One of the most common complaints among new nursing moms is that their baby is ALWAYS NURSING! They feel like a 24/7 milk factory, and find that their baby isn't happy unless on the breast. While it's true that there is never a wrong time to offer the breast, and I do FULLY ENCOURAGE you to nurse your baby often (at least 8 times every 24 hours!) there are likely times when your baby is trying to tell you that they ACTUALLY NEED SOMETHING ELSE.
The most common reason a baby is staying on the breast longer than what is ideal: Baby's cues are being misinterpreted which leads the mother to think she isn't making enough milk!!!
This is actually the #1 reason breastfeeding mothers give up and it's one of the most easily avoided breastfeeding "problems" when you know what you're looking for!
Usually, mothers mistake gassiness or sleepiness for hunger. When really baby is saying burp me or support me so I can go to sleep! OR another REALLY BIG misinterpretation- baby will cry after nursing and the mother will assume it means her baby is still hungry! This is BY FAR the most common misinterpretation. Crying after nursing is NORMAL and to be EXPECTED. It usually signals gas, indigestion, or the need to poop. There are rare instances where a mother is actually unable to produce what her baby needs, and if you think that is what's going on, please don't ignore it.
Listen to your instincts and check in with your support team!!!
Another reason baby may stay on the breast for longer periods is their latch may not be effective. This is usually accompanied with nipple pain, and nipples that look flattened, creased, or misshapen when baby comes off the breast. When your nipple is being compressed from a latch or positioning that isn't quite right, it can "kink" your nipple, kind of like a hose, and make drinking harder than it needs to be. If you're told your baby isn't gaining weight well, this may be the reason why.
Like I said, your baby is going to be an EXCELLENT COMMUNICATOR, you just need to read their body language. The trouble is, sometimes these cues are very subtle, or they look very similar to each other. The good news, that's what I am here for! If you're unsure what your baby is trying to say you can reach out to me for guidance. In the meantime, check out these videos to help you more fully understand your little one.
These videos are incredibly helpful, and come from Jan Tedder, owner of HUG Your Baby. You can find her videos on YouTube. I share these videos with the families I serve regularly. I began my journey into learning more about newborn's cues, states, and zones after taking Jan's training. I now use these skills in my own practice as a Lactation Counselor.
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE