Does breastfeeding while lying down have any side effects on the mum, the milk supply and the baby?
When you have a baby, you barely have any time for yourself since you are focused on the process of caring for your newborn. This results in little rest and tiredness practically every day.
As a result, many mums fall asleep when sitting or lying down while nursing their newborns. This, however, can be exceedingly dangerous to children. It is recommended that you take the appropriate precautions to avoid falling asleep when breastfeeding your infant.
Side Effects of Breastfeeding While Lying Down
Done properly and staying conscious the whole time, breastfeeding while lying down has positive effects on the mother. According to WebMD, nursing your baby in a side-lying position (meaning you and baby are lying on the bed beside each other) can have the following benefits:
It helps the mother recover.
If the mum is recovering from a C-Section, an episiotomy, or vaginal birth, it can be quite uncomfortable and painful to sit for a long period, and we know breastfeeding sessions do tend to take a while. Breastfeeding while lying down may help the mum avoid pain while she's still recovering from giving birth.
New mums know that supporting the weight of a nursing baby can be hard on the shoulders, arms, and back. Nursing in a lying-down position eases the strain on her upper body. It allows the mum's body to rest. And if the mum is comfortable, the better and longer her breastfeeding journey will be. Moreover, mums say that find that night feeds are easier while laying down.
It helps avoid clogged ducts.
It is common for breastfeeding mums to experience some troubles at the start of their breastfeeding journey, such as a positions to help relieve and avoid clogged ducts. One of the recommended positions is side-lying. It is also helpful for mothers with large breasts.
However, as mentioned earlier, one of the most dangerous side effects of breastfeeding while lying down is sleeping. Because so many accidents can happen when a baby is unattended, which you'll find out here.
Nursing While Sleeping: Why Does It Happen?
When a mother breastfeeds, she produces oxytocin, a hormone that reduces anxiety and promotes a special emotional bond with her newborn child. Oxytocin, popularly known as "the love hormone," is a powerful hormone that, while it promotes good breastfeeding, has one potentially serious adverse effect: it also promotes sleep.
“New mothers are sleep-deprived and understandably stressed,” says neonatologist and safe sleep and breastfeeding specialist Michael Goodstein, MD.
“Add to that a state of hormone-induced calm and it’s not surprising that mothers struggle to stay awake while breastfeeding. Falling asleep is the natural inclination,” he adds.
According to previous studies, oxytocin counters the effects of cortisol, which is the known as the stress hormone. So it is natural that mums will feel more relaxed when breastfeeding their babies. So much so that oftentimes, we can't help but doze off.
Side Effects of Sleeping While Breastfeeding
It is common for babies, especially newborns, to nurse several times during the night. For mums, the first few weeks or periods of growth surges can feel like a feeding marathon. With such little and interrupted sleep, feeling tired and "out of it" during a breastfeeding session is very normal.
According to a survey of over 2,000 women, 72 per cent of those who nurse their newborns in bed fall asleep with their babies. And 44 per cent dozed out while night feeding on a sofa or recliner. This is highly concerning because a growing number of babies suffocate when sleeping in their parents' bed, and the risk is significantly higher when sleeping on a sofa or chair!
Moreover, research proves that most new parents are sleep deprived, and when we are exhausted, we have the same poor judgment and inattention as if we were drunk!
Furthermore, video studies show that bed-sharing newborns spend two-thirds of the night in the riskier side position, with their mouths covered with a sheet or blanket for more than an hour each night. When you're exhausted, you might not see that you're accidentally blocking your baby's face with a blanket or your arm.
It is risky to fall asleep with your infant at the breast. If you are nursing on a couch or chair, your baby may become entrapped in the cushions and have difficulty breathing. This puts your baby at risk of asphyxia, which can have terrible consequences.
When nursing in bed, you risk suffocating your infant with pillows, blankets, or your own body. Finally, if you fall asleep while breastfeeding in a rocking rocker, for example, your baby may shift and possibly fall out of your arms.
How Can I Stop Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding?
Six months old asian baby drinking breastmilk
“We can’t change mothers’ natural response to breastfeeding,” says Goodstein, “and we wouldn’t want to—oxytocin is incredibly valuable for mother-child bonding.
But we can do a better job of helping mothers manage their stress and their sleep habits during those early months. And in doing so, we can reduce unsafe environments.”
There are a few strategies you can do to stay awake if you feel too weary to keep your eyes up while breastfeeding. Here are a few suggestions:
Getting out of bed and strolling into another room can be enough to keep you awake for a long time. Make it a habit to move from one location to another every 20 minutes, depending on how much work you have.
To reduce the chances of falling asleep while breastfeeding, you can prepare ahead of time by propping up against something comfortable. You may lean on a giant pillow (something comfortable but not overly cosy!) or a large comfortable sofa.
Position yourself in such a way that your baby will be safe even if you unintentionally close your eyes. If you're seated on a sofa, keep your distance from the edges to avoid you or the baby falling off.
Maintain a straight posture
To stay awake, sit in a comfy chair without using overly soft cushions or pillows. Cosy sofas and chairs might make you feel drowsy, and you may fall asleep quickly. However, as previously stated, ensure that you are well propped up and supported.
To stay awake while breastfeeding, you can read a book or simply strike up a discussion with your partner. However, if your baby is napping, it is advisable to rely on books because chatting to your partner or anybody else may disturb the baby.
If watching TV keeps you awake and focused, consider binging a Netflix or Amazon Prime show that you've had on your watchlist for a long time.
Playing smartphone games with your buddies will put your brain to work and keep you entertained. While nursing, it's a terrific way to remain awake and even catch up with friends and relatives.
Image Source: iStock
While this strategy may wake your baby, if you have a tendency of falling asleep while breastfeeding, you could set an alarm or a timer to wake yourself up. You might try to keep the alarm level low or on vibration mode so that your kid is not disturbed.
It's also worth noting that using a phone near a newborn isn't recommended, so this approach should only be used as a last resort.
Drink water and have a snack
If you're feeling fatigued after a late-night feeding, consider sipping a big glass of water to stay cool and awake. A modest plate of snacks is also an excellent method to keep your metabolism going.
Eat a well-balanced diet and get enough calories every day
It will help you maintain your energy levels and a healthy milk supply. Breastfeeding consumes up to 500 calories per day, therefore eating a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated is crucial.
Ask help from your partner
You can request that your partner checks on you at a specific time to guarantee that you haven't fallen asleep. You won't have to be concerned about falling asleep if you know your partner or a family member will wake you up.
As a reminder, experts don't recommend sharing the same bed with your baby. So as soon as your baby is asleep (or already sleepy), don't forget to transfer her back to her crib. Also, if you are really feeling sleepy, let your partner or a family member know so that they can take over baby duties after you breastfeed so you can get your well-deserved nap.
Taking care of a newborn is difficult, and you will undoubtedly be weary most of the time. You will want to sleep as much as possible, whenever possible. However, it is critical to put your baby's safety first. A few precautions can go a long way toward reducing breastfeeding accidents.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it's important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn't serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.