Why Does My Baby Moan While Breastfeeding? (Let Down Reflex & Other Causes)

Your baby could be moaning while breastfeeding for quite a few different reasons. Some of those reasons could be a dirty diaper, not being able to burp, feeling overstimulated, tummy issues, or struggling sleeping which is easy to find a solution for. But you might also have a problem with your feeding, like a fast let-down, which can trouble your baby and cause them to moan. The treatment plan includes changing positions, getting a nursing pillow, or following a few other tips to maintain a normal let-down reflex. 

The whining or moaning baby can be unbearable for the new parents who haven’t slept in days and are still adjusting to everything. Seasoned parents know how to handle such situations, and within a few weeks or months, they know which sounds mean what and how to calm down their baby.

While not getting their feed is one reason your baby could be moaning, why are they doing it even when you’re feeding them? Understanding your baby can be challenging initially, so let me help break down the reasons behind their moaning. 

Also, what to do in such situations and how to tend your baby when they’re moaning. Let’s take a look at what you need to know. 

Understanding your moaning baby

Whenever your baby makes a sound, you get worried about how to help them and what to do to stop moaning or whining. But it’s only understandable for your baby to make such noises because that’s how they communicate to you.

Not knowing how to speak yet, it’s their way of communicating several things to you, including their hunger, diaper change, feeling angry or frustrated, and many more. It’s an essential milestone in your baby’s life, and it tells you that they’re thriving. 

But for a baby to be moaning while breastfeeding is a specific case where you might feel lost. Let’s see what’s that about.

Reason baby moans when breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a significant bonding period for you and your baby as it provides your baby with nutrients that promote healthy growth.

But breastfeeding can be tricky for many mothers, such as facing sore nipples, latching issues, and milk flow problems. 

Let down reflex

One such difficulty is the let-down reflex, described as the release of milk from the breast.

It’s a normal reflex which means that milk is being released when your breasts are stimulated and happens when your baby starts sucking. A chain of reactions starts, and your milk is released.

The issue with let-down is that this reflex only takes a few seconds for some mothers, while it might take several minutes for others. 

One issue is that this let-down process is often little initially, not satisfying your baby’s hunger. Or in some cases, this let-down is too fast for your baby to follow up with. In either of the cases, your little one faces trouble feeding breast milk correctly and moans when not satisfied. 

Ways to control fast let-down

A breastfeeding mom is trying to control her breastmilk letdown so her baby doesn't moan or choke from the flow

When the let-down is fast, it is difficult for your baby to keep up as each has a different swallowing pattern.

This is known as overactive milk ejection as the baby groans or moans while swallowing. In such cases, a mouthful of milk makes the baby moan with a suck-swallow-breath pattern. As a result, they might have rapid breathing or irregular breathing. 

At this time, your baby might make a clicking sound, and this loud noise tells you that they aren’t latched right to the nipple. In such a situation, adjusting the feeding position can help you out. 

  • You can lie down on the bed and put your baby over your breasts for a good flow of milk.
  • You can get a nursing pillow that supports your baby’s back and helps you feed more comfortably. It’s also helpful if your baby is choking or coughing, and it’s useful for an easy and fast flow of milk.
  • Take the baby off the breasts if you’re feeling a fast let-down. Either adjust your breastfeeding position or start feeding after a few minutes when your flow has been controlled. 
  • You can use your hand and squeeze a little milk before each feeding to avoid the fast let-down. 

Other than moaning or periodic breathing during breastfeeding when there’s a fast let-down, your baby might exhibit other behaviors such as biting off the nipples or spitting off after nursing. So, you need to take measures to control your fast let-down to avoid your baby from moaning. 

Ways to improve let-down reflex

A fast let-down can be problematic and be a reason behind why your baby starts moaning while breastfeeding but so can a slow let-down reflex too. 

For most women, the fast let-down can be an issue they want to fix, but for others, a slow let-down can also leave their baby unsatisfied and moaning. If you have trouble with let-down, there’re different things you can try to improve your situation:

  • Sip on a warm beverage
  • Listen to soothing, calm music
  • Take a warm shower before feeding
  • Hold your baby close to your body to let the natural reaction start
  • Gently massage your breasts to stimulate milk flow

Let-down is different for every person, and it’s not something that you should compare with other people. Some of these things can help you have a normal let-down reflex so your baby can stop moaning when breastfeeding. 

But there could be other possible reasons for your baby to moan when breastfeeding.

Other reasons baby moans while breastfeeding

1. Tummy issues

Your baby could be having tummy issues when breastfeeding too. It’s a common issue for babies as their digestive system is still developing. 

They could be wanting to burp, which they can only let you know by moaning in between breastfeeding. Moaning at the end of feeding is a sign of the burp they need. 

You can also try gently pressuring the baby’s tummy to help them with a gassy stomach. 

They could also be suffering from acid reflux. They must be in discomfort if facing this issue as the stomach’s content comes back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. It would be best if you saw your pediatrician for this particular problem.

2. Overstimulation

Breastfeeding needs to be a peaceful time for you and your baby. When this quiet time is disturbed by many noises or bright lights, it could lead to overstimulation in your baby.

Your baby could be simply moaning because of the environment around them while feeding. It’s easy for your little munchkin to get overwhelmed by loud voices or excessive activity around them. 

You just need to get away from such distractions and bring yourself to a calm place where they can feed without any such hiccups. 

3. Struggle to sleep

This happens mostly during nighttime feeding as your baby tries to sleep after they’re done feeding. Usually, they drift off to sleep while feeding, but they might become fussy and start moaning if they can’t fall asleep if their sleep keeps getting interrupted.

Keep the environment peaceful and dark to help them stimulate sleep. Make sure your baby’s sound asleep before leaving the room. 

Some other related issues could be exhaustion or dirty diaper too. If your baby hasn’t been able to get their required naps during the day or enough sleep last night, they might moan a lot when breastfeeding. The best thing is to let them sleep while breastfeeding. 

How to stop your baby from moaning?

A newborn baby is crying while mom is getting ready to breastfeed

Moaning can have different interpretations, and it comes up to the parents to know what their baby requires and how to help prevent them from moaning.

One thing’s for sure your baby is moaning only because they can’t speak yet, and by this, they are trying to communicate an issue to you. 

Showing kindness and affection to your baby in such times can help you understand the situation faster and help your baby keep calm.

  • When you hear moaning, it’s best to go through a mental checklist of the primary issues that could be causing a problem as you feed them. It can be anything from a soiled diaper, burp, or an uncomfortable feeding position. 
  • A fast let-down is a problem you can’t understand immediately, and it takes some time for the new moms to understand this issue could be causing discomfort to their baby. Understanding it and then taking measures to resolve it can prevent your baby from moaning again.
  • It’s crucial at times like these to keep your cool and calmly try to understand the situation rather than losing your cool. Ask your partner to cooperate if you’re too tired to make the right decision.
  • As your baby grows, they start understanding you a bit. So, if there’s any other issue they might be moaning about, you can ask them. Even though they will not speak correctly, you still might understand them. 

Moaning is not something you should be too worried about, and there are some basic reasons why your baby could be doing it. If nothing works, it’s best to visit your pediatrician and ask for their medical advice.

FAQs

How long does it take for breastmilk to let down?

Different women take different times when it comes to letting down. It might take a few seconds for some women, but it can take a few minutes for others. It’s not right to compare yourself to other women out there. 

Each time your baby begins to nurse, the nerves in your breast send signals that release the milk in your milk ducts. This let-down reflex usually happens after your baby has been sucking on it for a while. 

If you’re having issues with your let-down, then there are a few tips you can follow to help you with your milk flow. These include taking a warm shower before feeding, drinking a warm beverage, holding your baby close to you, or a breast massage.

What does forceful let-down look like?

If your let-down is forceful, you’ll know immediately as the milk won’t flow naturally. Both you can your baby will struggle during this. As your baby tries to feed, they’ll become fussy, moan, tug at your breast, and so on. 

If the milk flow is too much for them, they’ll start choking or pulling away, coughing or gasping. It’s essential to take note of your surroundings and how your baby is reacting to your feed. 

Why does my baby seem restless while breastfeeding?

If your baby seems restless while breastfeeding, it could be multiple things troubling them. It could be that they are poorly positioned, in need of a burp, have soiled their diaper, or are overstimulated, to name a few. 

Breastfeeding requires a peaceful environment around you. Pay attention to when your baby feels restless and try to find a solution with your partner. 

Do babies lose interest in breastfeeding?

It’s common for babies to lose interest in breastfeeding sometime around six months. This is a normal developmental activity taking place in your baby’s life and is nothing to be worried about. The best months for breastfeeding are till the age of 6 months.

Even if your baby stops nursing after then, they can start getting their nutrition from solid food. 

To summarize

Moaning is your baby’s way of letting you know that something is bothering them. When they can’t speak properly, this is how they communicate their issues to you. There’s a list of some fundamental problems that could be troubling them, and the solutions to them are pretty easy to follow.

But sometimes, there could be a problem with the feed itself, such as a fast let-down which might be troublesome for your baby. Trying to know this particular issue isn’t easy, so really pay attention to breathing noises along with how fast your baby is swallowing milk. There are different ways to ensure it doesn’t happen once you identify it.

Changing positions and following a few tips to achieve a normal let-down reflex can calm down your baby. It’s different for every mother out there, so in the beginning, it might take some time to learn how to feed your baby correctly. If you have any doubts and your baby still doesn’t stop moaning, it’s better to see your pediatrician. 

As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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