Newborns are often very sleepy feeders. The effort involved in sucking and swallowing for a tiny baby is often exhausting and you'll find that your newborn falls asleep often during feedings in the first few weeks. Breastmilk also contains a hormone called oxytocin, which is necessary for breast feeding, but is also sleep inducing for both mothers and babies! Here are some tips compiled from various sources and from Baby Whisperer forum members on how to deal with sleepy feeders.
From the La Leche League breastfeeding answer book
(3rd edition)If you need to wake your baby to feed:
Try arousing the baby when he's in a light sleep cycle e.g rapid eye movements under the eyelids, lip movements, changes in facial expression.
unwrap the baby down to his nappy/diaper as sucking activity decreases in temperatures above 80F (27C)
Talk to the baby, make eye contact.
Hold the baby in a more upright positionIncreasing stimulation:
Rub or pat the baby's back or walk fingers up and down spine
Change the baby's diaper/nappy
Gently rub the baby's hands and feet
Increase skin-to-skin contact
Wipe forehead and cheeks with a cool damp cloth
Circle the baby's lips with a fingertip
Express milk onto the baby's lipsKeeping the baby interested
Make sure the hand supporting the breasts keeps the weight of the breast off the baby's chin
Use breast compressions to keep the milk flowing http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=doc-BC
Switch breasts as soon as the baby begins to lose interest
Burp the baby or change diaper between sides
Nurse using the football hold rather than the cradle hold
Massage the baby's crown in a circular motion while nursing.From Baby Whisperer forum members
*Both my Lo's slept for at least four weeks. WE didn't get into EASY until about 4-6 weeks and it was a gradual thing. AT 16 weeks my DD is taking great naps (usually) and sleeping from 10-6am at night...so waiting the few weeks wont hurt. It is fine to relax, enjoy your baby and build your milk supply now by feeding more often so that in a few weeks you can start some simple routines.
*It will take until LO is 4 weeks or so before there is any real activity time- and that's only a few minutes then. Just nurse and sleep- you and your baby!
*It is quite normal for a baby of this age to fall asleep while nursing. Something you can do would be when you are done feeding, change the diaper for "activity". Then, when baby is ready, put down for a nap. Activity at this age is minimal... staring at mom's face counts Additional tipshttp://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/newborn-concerns/sleepy-babies/http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/common-problems/techniques-waking-sleepy-babyhttp://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/waking-a-sleepy-babyIf your baby is losing interest in feeding quickly it may be valuable to get advice about your latch e.g from a helpline or trained lactation consultant. A poor latch could mean the baby is poorly motivated at the breast or is not getting enough milk. Remember a newborn baby should be feeding at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. This means a sleepy baby may need to be woken for feeds.