Monday, March 25, 2013

A trick to unlatch a sleeping nursling

Today's post is in the realm of passing on mama tips among the tribe. I'm sure other people have discovered this trick, but I've found it very handy and want to make sure it's out there where people can use it.

If your nursling has fallen asleep on the nipple and is comfort sucking, and you want to unlatch for whatever reason, what do you do?

Before I tell you what I do, let me just say something about comfort or non-nutritive nursing: It's totally beneficial so shouldn't be knocked. Particularly in early breastfeeding days, all that comfort sucking can help regulate and increase milk supply, so encourage it however you can manage if you have low supply issues.

Plus, there's no reason to feel like you "shouldn't" allow comfort nursing — don't feel guilt or pressure from silly people taunting you with "Your baby's using you as a pacifier!" No, no, no: Pacifiers are an artificial representation of comfort sucking on mama's nipple, not the other way around!

That said, there are times when you want baby off, and what better time than when she's asleep! I know for me, I prefer to unlatch during naptime so I can slip away, and at night in bed so I can roll into a more comfortable position for falling asleep.

So…here's one little tip I've discovered.

If your baby's sucking sucking sucking on one breast but clearly past the drinking phase, you'll be able to tell because the sucks get shallower and quicker and sort of fluttery on your nipple. You'll also not be able to hear the baby pause to swallow.

What do you do? It's easy:

Switch breasts!

To unlatch from the first breast, wet your index finger and slide it between your nursling's mouth and your nipple to gently break the suction, and then pull back.

If your baby doesn't wake up at this point … congratulations, you're done!

But if, like Alrik and Mikko before him, there's an unh-unh-unh ramping up of fussing and rooting back for the nipple? Then you pop in the other, full breast.

If it's truly been awhile since that side's been suckled, then it's likely much more primed to start spitting out a stream of milk again, and that's just what you want!

Wait for it to hear and feel if the fluttering comfort sucks turn into genuine gulping, moist feeding sucks. You'll also likely be able to feel your milk let down as this happens.

Then just wait till mealtime is over, which should be just a few minutes at most. Sometimes my baby delatches himself afterward and rolls away. But if not, do the moist finger–unlatching thing again and see if your baby doesn't roll away this time, content and quiet.

My theory on this is that the baby's in some sort of habit when comfort sucking of "This feels good; I'm going to keep sucking. Don't even think of taking this away from me, woman."

But then once the milk starts flowing and there's a whole snack going down, the thoughts change to: "Oh … was I eating? Yes … ok. This is good, too. Mmm. That was a yummy snack. All right, peace out. I'm going to bed."

Hopefully you'll get to view this milk-drunk look
as your baby fully passes out.

A milky meal seems to break the comfort-sucking jag by suggesting your baby had a different goal in mind all along — and has now reached it. Or perhaps it just fills his tummy to the point that he doesn't want to keep sucking for fear of overeating.

Does this trick always work? Not in the slightest, sorry. But it works enough that it's worth talking about and giving a try! Sometimes you don't even have to switch sides, because enough comfort nursing will trigger a letdown. But if you're wanting to hurry things along, switching's the way to go.

Do you have any little breastfeeding tips and tricks that you've acquired?

Top photo of Alrik and me is Lunchtime by Shannon Hillinger, part of our new Natural Parents Network photo pool! It's fast becoming chock full of charming pictures of what natural parenting really looks like. Head on over to add your own and enter the photo contest.


Emily said...

so timely. thanks! peace out, i'm going to try it.

Anastasia said...

That's been working for me too! It just kind of came instinctively to get him satisfied enough for a good nights sleep (or nap)!

Victoria said...

This was very helpful!! Thank you! I switched boobs and she pulled off when she was done eating! Thank goodness it has been rough. She’s only four months and teething.

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