Baby will only feed when sleepy in Breastfeeding

Posted by Anonymous on - 1 reply

At about 3 months (my baby is now nearly 5 months) stopped feeding well and would pull off and scream when I would try to latch her on. I've found the only way I can really feed well
Is to do so when she is sleepy and allow her to nap on me. I am at my wits end. Have you come across this before and do you have any advice?

Users' Replies

Apr 18, 2017 06:20 AM

Thank you for your question to Wellvine about your breastfeeding concerns. It sounds like you’ve been working incredibly hard with breastfeeding your baby. The past couple of months have been challenging as your baby only appears to feed well when she’s sleepy.

Yes, I have come across this before. It’s not an unusual phase for babies as they become older and much more interested in the world around them. They seem to want to spend as much time as possible observing what’s happening rather than spending time staring at their mother’s chest! This is entirely normal and may continue as your baby carries on growing and changing. Mothers in similar circumstances find that some of the following strategies can be helpful:

Accepting that some feeds may be longer and fuller whilst others are quick and over before you know it. Thinking about your baby’s needs being like yours may be helpful – sometimes all we need is a glass of water or a cup of tea and other times we’d like a full roast dinner followed by crumble and custard and petits fours! Babies are no different.

Babies are very clever and designed to survive. They will not ‘starve’ themselves but will take what they need when they need it. It’s not unusual for mothers of babies of a similar age describing their daytime feeds as being quick and business-like whilst evening and nighttime feeds are longer and fuller.

You are already observing and responding to your baby’s behaviour. When she’s pulling away as you encourage her to latch again it sounds like she’s telling you, ‘I’ve had enough now’. It may be more relaxing for you both to just acknowledge this and both do something else.

You know your baby best and are the expert on your baby. It sounds like you have been doing a brilliant job working with your baby’s growing and changing needs. Finding times in the day that work for you both to have a longer, quieter feed when she’s more sleepy and therefore not trying to take in the world around her. Some mothers like to time these feeds to coincide with nap time and bed time patterns.

Sometimes this behaviour can also be linked with the speed of milk flow from the breast. More experienced breastfeeding babies like yours can sometimes start to communicate their opinions about the milk coming 'too fast' or 'too slow’. It may be helpful to have a full breastfeed observed by a qualified IBCLC Lactation Consultant to fully assess what’s happening and give you some pointers on responding. For example, if a baby is coughing and spluttering during a feed the flow may be overwhelming. Mothers in these circumstances can find it helpful to lean their body back to slow down the flow as well as taking short breaks during the feed to allow their baby to catch their breath. On other occasions babies can appear frustrated if the flow is not as full as they would like. Their mothers might notice that their babies are not sucking and swallowing regularly but taking short, butterfly sucks or having long pauses. These mothers can find using breast compression strategies or switching breasts regularly can help their babies maintain a feed for longer.

Nancy Mohrbacher’s book below is a great resource for breastfeeding mothers with research-evidence based information on normal baby behaviour and answers to many of the questions that new mothers understandably ask. She has also designed an App to capture much of this information which you can find on her website.

I hope that there are some helpful ideas here for you. Please do let me know if you have any further questions.

Best wishes

Sharon George IBCLC