For some mothers and their babies, breastfeeding comes naturally from the get-go, but it may be more challenging for many others. Here is a list of breastfeeding positions to help you find a better position that’s more comfortable for you and your baby. It’s also great to have learned several positions since you’ll want to rotate between them so that baby is drawing from different milk ducts, helping you to avoid a clogged duct or mastitis.
This is the classic position you imagine when you think of breastfeeding. You will cradle your baby in the crook of one arm while their bottom is supported by your hand.
The first few times you breastfeed your baby, you may want to hold your breast with the arm that is not supporting their head to give them more guidance in finding your nipple. If your breast is more round and your nipple doesn’t protrude as much, try holding your nipple between your pointer finger and middle finger to help your baby get a proper latch onto the entire nipple.
To better your comfort, place a nursing pillow underneath your baby and one under your arm supporting their head; this helps your arms once you have a twenty-pound baby to hold for several minutes as they breastfeed.
With a newborn, you may also be wondering how to position your baby for their comfort. I remember looking down at my son and wondering if I was putting too much pressure on his arm being squished between our bodies. Your baby should be lying tummy to tummy with you, their arm tucked under yours so that you can’t see it. Make sure you are supporting their neck, spine, and bottom. If you had a cesarean, you might find that this position puts too much pressure on your abdomen, and another position may suit you better.
2. Cross Cradle
This is similar to the cradle position, but your arms are switching roles. If breastfeeding on your left breast, your baby’s head will not be supported by the crook of your left arm like in the cradle position, but rather by your right arm. Your right hand should hold your baby’s head with your thumb and fingers placed below their ears, supporting their head and neck.
This position is excellent for mothers and babies with trouble latching as you’re better able to guide your baby’s mouth to your breast with your fingers at the base of the back of their head and use your other hand to guide your nipple toward your baby.
This can be an excellent position for your very first latch!
3. Football Hold
It looks as it sounds. Pretend you are clutching a football! Your baby’s body will be tucked under your arm on the same side you’re breastfeeding from, and that hand will hold and guide baby’s head. Place your baby next to you on a pillow to obtain this position. Have their nose at the same level as your nipple. Place your arm underneath your baby’s head for support, but don’t put too much pressure that causes your baby’s head and neck to arch. Your baby’s head should be facing you with their legs behind your back, and their tummy should be turned towards you.
This is an excellent position for mothers breastfeeding two babies simultaneously, mothers whose breasts may be more round or nipples are flatter, as you can hold your baby’s head with your hand, and you have a free hand to help guide your baby to your nipple. This breastfeeding position is also great for mothers who’ve had a cesarean since it doesn’t put pressure on your abdomen.
4. Laid-Back Breastfeeding
This is a more relaxed position. Mom can recline on the couch or bed with a pillow supporting her back and one under her feet or knees. Baby should be lying on top of mom, stomach to stomach. This gives your baby more control over the flow of milk as they can scoot away and towards the breast, massaging the milk out. You have a direct gaze at your baby and are doing less work. Your nipple naturally points to the roof of their mouth where it should be.
This position could be great if you’ve had a cesarean as you could place your baby’s body higher up toward your chest or maybe diagonally off to the side as long as they are on top of you facing your breast. It’s a great position if you’ve had any perineum tears, as there’s less pressure on your bottom since you aren’t sitting upright. It’s also a great position if you have a fast letdown or an oversupply of breast milk.
If you are co-sleeping, this is a great relaxed option for breastfeeding during the middle of the night. Place a couple of pillows under your head and shoulders to recline your upper body as you lay on your side with baby’s tummy facing yours. You may choose to cradle your baby’s head with the hand of your bottom arm or more comfortably with the hand of your top arm as you tuck your bottom arm under your head and out of the way.
Try not to bend toward your baby or have to lift your baby toward you, but rather be in a comfortable position where their mouth is at your nipple. This may mean that you have extra pillows under your head, maybe one between your legs, or perhaps no pillows at all, see what fits you best!
This one is quite an interesting position! It is less known and so amazing when you have mastitis! Your baby should be lying on their back while you prop yourself up on a pillow and let your breasts dangle while you breastfeed. Gravity and your baby’s suckling will help drain a clogged duct.
There’s no right or wrong way of breastfeeding; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I hope this leaves you feeling empowered to get creative in finding the right breastfeeding position for you and your baby in any given situation.
Here’s a great video to show you examples of these (and more) breastfeeding positions: