A guide for moms who breastfeed
There is no "best" position for breastfeeding, but it is easiest when both you and your baby are comfortable. Some positions can work better than others. Here we explore the basics of:
- The cradle hold
- The football hold
- The cross-cradle hold
- Lying down
Some experts suggest alternating positions. That way, your baby will not latch on and apply pressure at the same spot every time.
Breastfeeding position: the cradle hold
Sit in a comfortable chair with support for your arms and back. Try not to hunch your shoulders. Support your breast with your hand in a cupped C-shape. Place your baby across your stomach, tummy to tummy.
Your baby's head should be in the bend of your elbow, and her mouth should be directly in front of your nipple. Use a pillow to support your arm.
If correctly positioned, your baby's body should form a straight line from her ear to her shoulder to her hip. Tuck her lower arm around your waist, out of the way.
Breastfeeding position: the football hold
Like a football player cradles a football, you will cradle your baby under your arm. This lets you see if he is latching on properly. This position often is preferred by moms who:
- Have large breasts
- Are concerned about latch-on
- Have a small or premature baby
- Are sore from a cesarean birth
Place pillows at your side to support your elbow and your baby's bottom. Tuck him into the side of your waist. Place his head in the palm of your hand. Support the base of his head between your thumb and forefinger. If he seems uncomfortable, place a soft blanket between your hand and his head for padding.
Breastfeeding position: the cross-cradle hold
This position often is preferred by moms who are having trouble with latch-on, and by moms with small or premature babies. It lets you see the latch-on more clearly than the traditional cradle hold.
Hold your baby across your body in the arm opposite the breast from which she will be feeding. Her position will be the same as in the cradle hold, but you will use your other arm to hold her. Your baby should be level with your breast, with her body turned toward you. (Some mothers find they can tuck the baby's bottom into the crook of their arm.) When she opens her mouth wide, pull her onto the breast far enough that the tip of her nose, her cheeks, and her chin all are touching your breast.
Breastfeeding position: lying down
This is a comfortable alternative position, especially at night or when sitting is uncomfortable.
Lie on your side, using one pillow to support your head and another along your back. Your head and neck should be comfortably propped up with pillows. Or lie on your side with one arm bent under your head and the other hand supporting your breast. Put a pillow or rolled-up blanket behind your baby's back. Lay your baby next to you on the bed so her mouth is opposite your nipple.
Your breastfeeding position might change over time
Even if one position does the trick at first, you might find that varying how you feed helps with back strain. As your baby grows, the tried-and-true football clutch might stop doing the trick. Many moms find different positions work better for older babies than for newborns.