Best Positions For Nursing
While there is no wrong way to hold your baby while you breastfeed, there are certain breastfeeding positions that are considered to be more comfortable than others.
There are several tried-and-true breastfeeding positions to choose from. Your goal would be to figure out the nursing positions that are most comfortable for you and your baby. When you are both relaxed, the breastfeeding experience will go a lot smoother.
For your convenience, this article has been broken up into three parts:
- Tried-And-True Breastfeeding positions to try. This includes breastfeeding pictures and videos. You will see the cradle hold, cross cradle hold, laid back breastfeeding, the football hold, the side lying position, the straddle hold, nursing in a baby carrier, nursing twins, etc;
- How to get a good breastfeeding latch. This also includes a helpful video and pictures;
- Helpful Breastfeeding Tips.
Tried and True Breastfeeding Positions For Easy Latching
This classic position is probably the easiest one. It’s everyone’s “go-to” nursing position, particularly if you are new to nursing and you are not familiar with other breastfeeding positions.
For this position, you need to sit straight up, while your baby lays on his/her side. Your baby’s head and neck will be laying on your forearm and his/her body will be up against yours. If you look down, you should be able to see your infant’s side.
With a traditional cradle hold, a straight line is formed from your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hips. In addition, your baby’s head and bottom should be level with each other if you are nursing a newborn.
If you are nursing a newborn baby, there is a bit more pressure to have everything lined up properly. The nurses at the hospital will train you to hold your baby as described above because proper form is required for nursing newborn babies. However, as your baby grows and gets stronger, you won’t need to feel pressured to make sure everything is lined up perfectly. Your main goal will always be that your baby is properly latched and both of you are comfortable.
Despite its popularity, it may not be a good option for younger infants as it does not offer as much support as other breastfeeding positions.
Some moms who choose to use this style prefer to also have a nursing pillow to offer support. A nursing pillow helps to keep any strain off your back or shoulders.
In addition, it is important to remember that if you are using a nursing pillow, you want to keep your baby at a level that allows your breasts to hang in their natural position. Doing this will help to prevent sore nipples and will allow for a more comfortable latch.
Cross Cradle Hold
This is very similar to the cradle hold. The difference here is that the body of your baby will lie up against the forearm on your opposite side.
The goal of this hold is for you to support the neck and head of your baby in such a way that it allows him to tilt his head up and latch on.
With your baby fully supported by one arm, this style allows new moms more control over the positioning of their baby, as well as the ability to manipulate your breast to better feed your baby.
The move is most used by moms of newborns and those who have smaller babies that are having a hard time figuring out how to latch properly.
Laid Back Breastfeeding
Laid back breastfeeding is often referred to as biological nurturing or the reclined position. This is a very popular position because it’s the most comfortable.
This is the style used for newborns right after birth.
Placed on mom’s chest, the baby will instinctually seek out the breast and latch on. Using skin-to-skin, or making sure the skin of both mom and baby are in contact, can often help to speed up this process. Because you are both laying down, gravity works with you, helping baby to stay where he needs to be and latched.
Laid-back breastfeeding can be used with babies of any age.
The position can be especially helpful:
- for babies that cannot maintain a proper latch in other positions;
- for older babies who do not like their head to be touched;
- if you have a forceful letdown; or
- for big breastfeeding moms.
This style of breastfeeding may be more comfortable for you if you are reclined rather than completely flat on your back. In order to do this, prop yourself up with pillows or cushions until you are able to see your baby.
For those that have recently had a c-section, laying flat on your back may actually be the most comfortable in this position. If you place your baby across your shoulder, he/she can nurse without any of their weight pushing down on your incision.
Football Hold For Nursing
With the rugby/ football hold, your baby is laying along your side, with his/her back resting on your forearm. Your baby’s head should be supported in your hand while your breast is supported with your other hand in the “C” hold. Your baby will not be able to push against the seat you are in as long as his/her legs and feet are kept tucked under your arm.
The position is suggested for moms of younger infants because it offers a lot of support for your baby while allowing you to have a lot of control as well as a good view of your baby. It is especially suggested for moms who have had a c-section, twins, or a premature baby.
Because you are holding your baby up to your breast, this position does require a nursing pillow or any other support to hold your baby.
The football hold, while effective, is not for everyone. Some moms find it a little awkward.
Side Lying Position
The side lying position is especially nice for those late-night feedings.
This position is especially comfortable for anyone who has had a c-section or stitches because you can stay laying on your side the entire time. Pillows strategically placed behind your back or between your legs can help you to get more comfortable.
Placing another pillow or rolled blanket behind your baby will ensure he/she cannot roll away from you.
Both mom and baby lay on their sides for this one, facing each other so that your bellies are touching.
Koala Hold/ Straddling Hold/ Sitting Position/ Upright Nursing Position
In this position, your baby is sitting up.
Your baby straddles your thighs. His/her spine and head are upright as they feed.
This is a good position for breastfeeding older children. However, you can also do this hold with a newborn if you offer your baby plenty of support, as the video below illustrates.
The upright nursing position is often the most comfortable breastfeeding position for babies who suffer from reflux or ear infections. It can also be a great way to feed a baby with a tongue-tie or one with low muscle tone.
Dancer Hand Nursing Position
For those who are having a difficult time getting their baby to latch properly, this is a great position to try.
This position is commonly used for babies with low muscle tone, premature babies, babies with Down’s syndrome, or babies who have an illness or disability. It is effective because you’ll be supporting your baby’s head and your breast.
This position begins with you cupping your breast with three fingers. Creating a “U” shape, your thumb and pointer finger will then be used to cup your baby’s head. With this position, you are supporting your breast and your baby’s head with one hand. This position also allows you to remain in control of your baby’s overall positioning.
This nursing position is very similar to the Koala hold/ straddling hold above. The difference is that you are supporting your breast and your baby’s head with one hand.
Breastfeeding While Using a Baby Carrier
Once you have this position mastered, you will be doing it all the time!
Breastfeeding in a baby carrier allows you to nurse your baby on the go. You can run errands, clean up around the house, etc while your baby is nursing and sleeping. It is quite empowering.
It is not only convenient but can be used at any age, from newborn all the way up to older children.
This position is suggested for those with slightly older infants after breastfeeding has been established. It is also easier for those infants who are already capable of keeping their heads up on their own.
To keep your baby safe, make sure you can always see his/her face and that your baby’s chin is not pushed against his/her chest.
Ergo baby carriers (as seen in the video above) are easy to use but you can nurse in most baby carriers.
FRIENDLY NOTE – If you do plan on nursing your baby in a carrier, do your research before you buy a baby carrier because some carriers are less versatile than others.
Double Football Hold For Breastfeeding Twins
This is a great way to breastfeed when you have twins. It not only allows both babies to be fed at the same time, but mom can keep her hands free as the babies grow older and need less support.
A breastfeeding pillow that has been specially created for feeding twins will be most helpful when using this breastfeeding position. These pillows will not only allow you better control over your babies but will also offer each baby additional support. At the same time, these pillows can reduce any stress you feel on your belly, which is a great help to those who have had c-sections.
When your twins are newborns, you will need help. As they get older, they will need less support, and this will allow you to go hands-free. Being hands-free is really helpful because you can burp one baby without interrupting the other baby’s feeding.
Dangle Feeding Breastfeeding Positions
Dangle feeding is a bit uncomfortable for moms so you probably will not be trying this position regularly.
For this position, your baby must lay flat on his/her back while you are above your child, crouching on all fours so that your nipple is dangling over his/her mouth.
This is not a popular breastfeeding position but some moms do use it if they are suffering from mastitis or plugged ducts. That is because this breastfeeding position allows your breasts to dangle freely, instead of being squashed or touched.
Some moms say that gravity helps unplug blocked milk ducts. While there is no scientific evidence to support this theory, it may be worth the try if you are suffering from plugged ducts or mastitis.
You can also try to dangle feed your baby while you’re kneeling, sitting, or almost lying down but propped up on your arms. You may need to use pillows to support yourself so you don’t strain your back or shoulders.
How To Get A Good Breastfeeding Latch
A good latch is very important for successful breastfeeding.
To ensure a good latch, you might try tickling your baby’s lips with your nipple. This will help to open your baby’s mouth, as if yawning. Bring your baby closer to you as you keep the nipple aimed at the roof of your baby’s mouth. You will know your baby is latched properly if you see:
- Your baby’s nose is fairly close to your breast;
- Your baby’s lips are flanged;
- Around 1/2 inch of your breast at the base of your nipple is in your baby’s mouth.
Helpful Breastfeeding Tips
No matter your favored breastfeeding positions, it’s always a great idea to be prepared before you start breastfeeding. Here are a few breastfeeding tips to follow:
- Go to the bathroom before you start breastfeeding.
- Keep everything you need close by. You can set up a little nursing caddy where you can keep the stuff you need, like a bottle of water, snacks, a magazine or your phone to keep you entertained, a burp cloth, nipple cream, and anything else you feel you may need. You may be sitting there for a while!
- Make your baby as comfortable as you can. This means supporting the head, neck, and spine. Some moms find a nursing pillow to be very useful.
- You should be relaxed too. Sit in a nursery chair or any comfortable chair. Add cushioning where you need it.