To help baby awaken and feed more eagerly:
- Try to wake baby during REM sleep. This lighter stage of sleep is recognized by fluttering eyelids, sleep grins, clenched fists, and limbs that are not limp. A baby in deep sleep is harder to rouse.
- Prod baby a bit. Undress both of you from shoulder to waist, and place baby skin-to-skin against your tummy and breast, while you drape a towel or lightweight blanket over baby’s exposed back and head. Your own body heat should keep him toasty (a mother’s skin temperature automatically goes up a bit while breastfeeding) but not so toasty that he falls asleep.
- If that doesn’t work, hold baby upright and talk to him to encourage him to open his eyes.
- Instead of the usual bonding positions (which relaxes babies), straighten out his body and extend his arms – postures that perk up the brain.
- Stroke the palms of his hands and soles of his feet to help him wake up.
- Rub baby’s face with a cool washcloth.
- Hand express a few drops of colostrum, your supermilk. Using your moistened nipple, tickle his lower lip to stimulate him to open his mouth. Talk him into continuing to nurse with a bit of gentle chatter while you feed. If he nods off, stroke his legs or pat his back.
- Get in the habit of switching breasts as soon as baby begins to fade. Intersperse a burp or a brief back rub on the way to the other breast. This is called switch nursing.
- If baby drifts off after only a few minutes of sucking, take him off the breast and help him wake up again before latching him on to the other side. Wake him up several times if you have to, until he has nursed well for ten or fifteen minutes. When baby is done nursing, let him simply rest at your breast and lick your nipple, actions that get the milk-making hormones flowing.