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How Can I Get My Baby to Stay Awake at the Breast?

Updated: Apr 2

Breast Massage, Compressions, and Hand Expression While Breastfeeding

"Massage" and "compressions" are different for breasts than for other body parts. When treated roughly, breast tissue can become bruised, inflamed, or swollen, which can make it more difficult for the milk to flow. This can cause clogged milk ducts. However, gentle massage and squeezing your breasts while baby is sucking can give baby a squirt of milk that will remind them to continue eating.

The videos below show the basics:

Breast compressions can help with:

  • Babies that sleep at the breast instead of eating

  • Long or excessively frequent feedings

  • Fussiness between feedings

  • Low milk production

  • Increasing fat content of the milk that comes out

  • Discomfort from full breasts

Watch for the chin dropping and pausing, indicating a big mouthful of milk being taken in and swallowed:

Even though this appears on the surface to be a shallow latch that could be painful, I wouldn't go so far as to assume it's a “bad latch,” given that this mother does not seem to be bothered by it, and the baby is clearly drinking.  We also cannot see the length and position of the mother's nipple just from the outside. 

Unless there is a problem (like maternal pain/nipple damage or poor infant weight gain), the latch does not have to look textbook-perfect to be comfortable and effective.

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