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5 Breastfeeding Positions to Try

Jennifer Lincoln, MD, IBCLC, Board Certified OB/GYN
January 3, 2019 . 3 min read

1. How to start breastfeeding

While breastfeeding is considered one of the most natural things a mother and baby can do, it still is a learning curve and takes practice. Many different breastfeeding positions exist, and a new mom should not feel compelled to try anyone first or think one is “best”—do what works for you and your baby! Find what is comfortable, and realize that as your baby changes and grows, that may change over time.

2. Cradle

Breastfeeding takes practice and the classic cradle position is one that moms will use in the long run.

For the cradle, make sure you are sitting up with support behind your back, and pillows to bring your baby to the level of your nipple may be needed in the first few weeks when he or she is smaller. The baby should be on his or her side with knees and body as close as possible to you—belly should be facing your chest and the head should not be able to turn away. The head should be on top the same forearm as the breast you are feeding from, and not stuck in the crook of the arm.

This positioning gives your baby space for a deeper latch, which is more effective. Let the baby latch on when he or she is ready.

3. Cross-cradle

The cross-cradle hold is similar to the cradle position in that the baby’s body is laying horizontal to your own, belly to belly. It differs from the cradle in your arm positions.

With the cross-cradle hold, your arm that is opposite the breast in use is supporting the baby’s upper body. This hand should be supporting the baby behind his ears and neck—don’t cup your baby’s head and push it to the breast, as this can cause them to reflexively pull away. The baby’s body should be facing toward yours and your free hand can be used to offer the breast to baby to self-latch. Allow the baby to latch on when he or she is ready.

4. Football

This is a great position for moms who have had a C-section or who have larger breasts.

Like a football, hold the baby tucked under your arm, so that he or she is wrapped around the same side of your body as the breast in use. The baby’s head should be positioned in front of your chosen breast with that hand cradling his or her neck in position (again, don’t cup the head and forcibly push baby onto the breast). Your hand opposite from the breast in use can be used to offer the breast, and if needed, can elevate the breast during the feed.

5. Side-lying

For nighttime breastfeeding success where you can get some rest as you feed, or if you are feeling pain in other positions, you may want to try side-lying nursing.

To prepare, you will want to have back support with multiple pillows. Lay down with your baby’s tummy facing yours and his or her head positioned right in front of your breast. Your arms can be positioned wherever is comfortable for you and baby—supporting your head, on your baby’s back, etc. Keep in mind this position may only “work” or feel right after your baby is a few months old, so if it as first it doesn’t succeed, try again!

6. Laid-back position

In this position, mom gets comfortable on a couch or bed with some pillows to prop her up a bit—she’s not totally flat, but semi-reclining. With mom leaning back, place baby on your tummy and let him or her self-latch to the breast. It doesn’t matter exactly how your baby is positioned so long as his or her front is in contact with yours, and the latch feels right. You may or may not need to support your breast. This is a wonderful nursing position for newborns (as well as their tired new moms!), when mom has a very forceful let-down or fast flow, or for babies who constantly pulls off the breast during feeds.

Sources:

  • The Health Guidance
  • The Best Breastfeeding Positions.
    KidsHealth
  • Nursing Positions.

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