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How to Stop Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding

by Maria Magher, studioD

It's not just waking up every two hours that can make breastfeeding mothers sleepy. The hormone oxytocin is responsible for the milk letdown during nursing -- and can also make you feel calm and sleepy, according to article published in the Winter 2005 issue of "The Journal of Perinatal Education." If you are already sleep, deprived, a few minutes after you start to nurse, you might find it difficult to keep your eyes open. Finding ways to stay awake during breastfeeding is important for the safety of your baby since co-sleeping could lead to suffocation and other hazards.

Get plenty of rest. Though it might be difficult to get a lot of sleep when you are caring for a baby, you can get the rest you need by sleeping when your baby sleeps -- even if that means taking naps throughout the day. Getting enough rest can make it less likely that you will succumb to those sleepy feelings when you are breastfeeding.

Sit upright. If you sink into a cozy armchair or leaning against a pillow on your bed, you may get too comfortable and start to drift off to sleep. Choose a comfortable chair, but be sure that you are sitting upright. Maintaining this posture can help you to stay awake.

Eat a healthy snack to boost your energy, advises WebMD. Keep in mind that while sugary snacks will give you a quick energy boost, the boost is then followed by a sugar "low" that saps your energy, leaving you feeling tired. Instead, choose snacks that are high in protein and contain healthy carbs such as wheat crackers and peanut butter or yogurt and nuts. Not only will these healthy snacks provide energy and help you stay awake, but you also need the extra calories to maintain your milk supply.

Read a book or play a game on your phone or tablet. The key is to do something that is mentally engaging so that you don't drift off to sleep. A tablet is a good choice since you can use it to read books, check your e-mail, play games or surf the Internet -- and all with one hand.

Chat with your partner. If it's not time for your baby to sleep, ask your partner to sit next to you and talk. The conversation will provide mental stimulation for you, but won't be keeping your baby up at bedtime.

Items you will need
  •  Snack
  •  Glass of water
  •  Book
  •  Tablet
  •  Comfortable chair


  • Do not drink caffeine or take other stimulants to try to stay awake. These can pass on to your baby through your breast milk.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • IT Stock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images