Breastfeeding while sleeping may kill your baby

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Breastfeeding Kenyan mothers have been warned to always stay alert when nursing so as to prevent accidental asphyxia to the baby.

"When a mother falls asleep while breastfeeding, the breast could press on the baby's nose, preventing them from breathing leading to suffocation," said Jane Ochieng, a nurse at Aga Khan hospital. "It is like when someone presses a pillow against your face forcefully, it leads to suffocation, the same way for the breast to the baby."

According to an article by the health online magazine, Live Strong, titled; Is It Safe To Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding; falling asleep with your baby while in a chair or on a sofa is risky, even if you are not breastfeeding. Your baby can fall or succumb to a condition called overlying. Overlying is when a baby dies of suffocation due to the obstruction of their airways while lying against the mother.

The baby normally does not have the strength to pull away from the mother's breast when she falls asleep.

Take the example of British mother Emma Hector in 2009, who woke up to find her baby dead in her arms after she fell asleep while breastfeeding.

Her husband, found the infant's lifeless body, lying in a foetal position facing his wife, the breast was covering the baby's face and the baby had blood in her mouth.

Jane also warns that breastfeeding while asleep could also lead to the baby choking to death on the breast milk. "There is a way the mother should hold her baby and breast in order to prevent an overflow of milk, " she said. " If she falls asleep then she cannot control it hence the baby will choke on milk because they will not be able to pull away."

On ways to stay awake if a mother is breast feeding especially in the middle of the night, Jane said: "breast feed while standing, move around, watch television or even get on Facebook if need be, just make sure you do not fall asleep."

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