So, you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby. Now what? If you’re like me you probably assume that you cradle the baby, place him or her on your nipple and let the feeding begin. Boy am I thankful for my Lamaze classes! I definitely had lots to learn before I embarked on this journey. I didn’t know that they were different breastfeeding positions to choose from and I definitely didn’t know that positioning mattered.
There are many breastfeeding positions and finding the one that is most comfortable to you while ensuring a good latch from baby, is very important especially in the newborn stages when you are trying to establish breastfeeding. A good breastfeeding position basically sets the tone for how the process progresses.
I had my fair share of trying to find a position that worked for me. There are 4 main positions that are talked about and I tended to stick to those until my daughter (and my arms) decided I need to find more comfortable options.
It’s very important to know, though, that no matter your chosen position, there a few basics to remember and put in place. This will make breastfeeding a bit more bearable for you and you little one.
- Chest to chest! Chest to chest! Chest to chest! I can’t say it enough. Baby’s chest must always be close to yours. This isn’t just for the purpose of being all close and cosy but to ensure a deep latch rather than just nipple.
- Baby’s ear, shoulder and hip need to be in alignment. Basically, baby’s head shouldn’t be in one direction while the body is turned elsewhere.
Cradle Hold Position
This position seems to be the go-to for most moms. It’s natural to want to just cuddle and cradle your baby all the time so why not feed the same way? This was the only position I knew. The few times I saw anyone breastfeeding, the baby was always held in the crook of the elbow so naturally, I assumed this was the one and only position.
In the cradle position, baby is supported by the arm on the same side that mom is feeding from. To start, place your baby’s head in your forearm, with his/her outer hand tucked under your arm (not too tightly). Your arm is then used to support his entire body. With your free arm, you can support your breast or either place it under baby’s buttocks (as shown in the pic above) for extra support, or you can use it to use your phone, drink water, eat or whatever else your feel like. I can assure you that in the early days, you probably will be using that hand to stroke baby’s face of play with his hair. The feeling is…unexplainable.
The drawback to this position is that it may not be the most comfortable for a mom who got a c-section. Having baby rest on the belly may be painful thus making it not so ideal.
The cross-cradle hold is very similar to the cradle hold; the only difference is the hand positioning. You will be supporting the back of baby’s neck with the hand opposite the breast you will be feeding with. With the hand on the side you’re feeding with, you will support your breast. This can be quite a convenient position for moms trying to get used to breastfeeding.
Cross-cradling makes it a lot easier to control the baby’s head as well as your breast while you position them for the best latch.
Although I thought I’d be mainly using the cradle position at the start of my breastfeeding journey, the cross-cradle position was actually easier for me and a lot more comfortable. The good thing about it too is that it allows you to make an easy transition to the cradle hold once your baby is latched on well.
Just as the name suggests, you pretty much hold the baby like a football. Baby is held against your body with his legs tucked under your arm and head and neck supported with one hand. This position is ideal for moms with twins, moms with larger breasts and moms who had a C-section.
The football hold was another very helpful position to me in the early stages of my breastfeeding journey. As my daughter got heavier, it became less convenient for me to use without a nursing pillow.
Being a new mom can be extremely exhausting and the lack of sleep doesn’t help at all. The side-lying position enables mothers to nurse their babies while getting a little rest. It’s easy to fall asleep in this position though, so be very careful (maybe I should take my own advice LOL).
You and your baby will be lying on your sides facing each other with one of your arm cradling him for support. It can become quite uncomfortable resting on your free arm, so it’s best to use a pillow or two to support your head and shoulders.
I first used this position when my daughter was 2 days old. I was very tired from feeding her every hour and she kept crying and crying and crying. Thankfully, there was this nice nurse aid who decided to help me out by showing me this position. It was an absolute dream! I even fell asleep. But this position seemed to soothe my baby better than anything else.
To this day, this is my go-to when she wakes for her night feedings. It’s just so convenient and relaxing. Initially it was a bit difficult for me to get my baby to latch on well while lying down. I found that starting in a sitting position then easing into the side-lying position worked well for me.
Laid Back Position
Next to the side lying position, this probably is the most comfortable and ideal position for tired mamas. You pretty much just lie back and let baby do his thing. It is important to have lots of support pillow wise.
The laid back position is also very helpful for moms with an oversupply or fast let down. Once you are reclined in a comfortable position at a comfortable angle, you place baby chest down on your body with their cheek near your breast. Babies will naturally turn to find the nipple to start feeding.
There are 4 positions that can be used in laid back breastfeeding; below your breasts, across your breasts, at your side or over the shoulder.
Having baby across the breast or supported at the side may be best for C-section mothers so that pressure isn’t placed on the scar.
What’s The Best Choice?
There is no single “best choice”. I used to think that breastfeeding comes naturally but I’ve learned that trial and error goes a long way. The right position is what feels comfortable for both you and baby. And for you, that may be more than one position. I’m almost 8 months into my journey and I use different positions depending on my location as well as my mood. If my daughter isn’t feeling a particular position, I switch it up. What’s important to me is that she is comfortable, latched well and feeding.
It may take you a while to find your groove or if you’re lucky, you’ll find your go to position within the first week. Either way, just do what works for YOU. There’s no need to feel pressured into one position over the other because of what someone tells you.