8 Best Breastfeeding Positions

You may have recently given birth to your newborn or you want to be prepared ahead, and the concept of breastfeeding always seems very instinctive and natural to you. While that may be true for the most part, there is still some trial and error in the process before everything clicks into place. When your lactation period starts, there are a lot of things to take into consideration including foods to eat during breastfeeding, your breast milk supply and more importantly, the breastfeeding position for a newborn.

Although the correct position to breastfeed depends entirely upon the equation between a mother and her child, there are some widely recognised positions that work for most people. When you begin to breastfeed, make sure that your baby latches on to your nipple the right way, otherwise, the feeding would be insufficient and you can even suffer from soreness afterwards. Without further ado, here are the best breastfeeding positions to help you find your own rhythm and routine:

1. The Cradle Hold

A mother holding her child in a cradle hold.

One of the most popular breastfeeding position for a newborn, the cradle hold is a classic. Here, you cradle the baby’s head on the crook of your arm or near the inside of your elbow. You can sit on the bed with the support of a lot of pillows or sit on an armchair and keep your feet on the bed or a stool too. This way, you are not leaning down on your baby as you feed them. Cradle your baby’s head on the right arm if they are feeding on the right breast and vice versa. If your arms ache while holding the baby, put additional pillows in your lap to support the weight.

2. Laid-Back Position

The laid back position of breastfeeding is relaxing.

This is one of the most comfortable and relaxed breastfeeding positions for the mother. It is especially great when you are tired, have sore nipples or your baby has difficulty in latching on. For this, you have to be in a semi-reclined position or at 45 degrees, and lay your baby down so that his or arms hug your breasts. As he or she lay on your stomach, both of you have proper yet comfortable support. This is also the best breastfeeding position to stimulate feeding reflexes.

3. Cross-Cradle Hold

A mother can keep a better eye on her baby in a cross-cradle hold.

The cross-cradle hold is also known as the crossover hold, simply because you cradle your baby in the hand opposite of the breast he/ she is feeding from. For example, you hold the baby in your right arm and guide them to latch onto your left nipple. Use your palm and fingers to support their head while they feed. This position can easily transfer into the bottle feeding phase as well.

4. Football Hold or The Clutch

The football clutch requires extra support for the baby’s body.

This position is also one that you breastfeed in while sitting up. Hold your baby under your arm and support their head with your palm to help them latch onto the nipple near your arm i.e. right nipple with right arm or left nipple with left arm. Placing a pillow below that arm also helps in creating stable support. It is called a football hold because a person tucks a football under their arm in a similar manner.

5. Upright or Koala Hold

Women breastfeeding outside their homes are often seen using the Koala hold.

This is the best breastfeeding position when you don’t have a bed or comfortable sitting arrangement around. Sit up and hold your baby while having his/her legs straddled over yours. Support their head with your hand guide them to latch on to your breast. One of the breastfeeding tips to keep in mind here is to constantly support their head and neck in staying upright. This position also works well when you have to feed your baby out of home as you can strap to a carrier and can make use of both hands. 

6. Side-Lying Position

The side-lying position is often restful for young mothers.

The side-lying position specifically requires a surface where you can lay down and is used by mothers at home. As the name suggests, lie down side-ways and lay your baby facing towards your breasts. Help them in latching onto your nipple and support their head so that he/ she doesn’t strain to reach there. Support your own head with a pillow and the upper body with your arm. Make sure you are not bending down on your baby. It is a relaxing position, so make sure that you don’t fall asleep in the middle of or immediately after feeding.

7. Twin Hold

A twin hold for breastfeeding is a modification of the football hold.

People often say that twins are a handful and during your lactation period, this might hold true more than ever! It is a little tricky to feed both babies together, so make sure that you have a lot of support. Put a pillow on your lap and hold both babies into football holds in both arms respectively. Getting into this position may also require the additional help of your partner or other family members.

While your breast milk supply will be enough for both of your babies, the strength in your arms may not be. Another one from the breastfeeding tips given by mothers of twins is to take turns in feeding each baby if possible.

8. Post-Caesarean Hold

Breastfeeding after a C-section is often hard, the post-caesarean hold helps.

After having a baby through a C-section, your condition might be tender and the stitches are often painful. Therefore, the side-lying position and the football holds are the best breastfeeding positions in this case, so that no stress is put on your abdomen. Another breastfeeding position for a newborn in this scenario the post-caesarean laid back hold. Sit in a semi-reclined or 45-degree position and hold your baby over your shoulder in a way that their mouth comes to your nipples and their feet are near your shoulder. This is not the easiest to achieve and is often only chosen by mothers who want to rest after C-section surgery.

Additional Breastfeeding Tips

  • Make sure that both you and your baby are comfortable and their airway is not blocked. 
  • You should alter between both breasts equally, unlike what most breastfeeding myths suggest.
  • Ensure that your baby’s mouth is latched fully on to your nipple during all times in a feeding session.
  • You can switch the breastfeeding position for a newborn as per both of your needs.
  • It is possible that the same position and routines might not work for a second baby, twins or otherwise.
  • Your body produces as much milk as is required by your baby, so there is usually no need to increase breast milk production.
  • Soreness from breastfeeding can be reduced using nipple creams.

Once you get hold of the position that suits you and your baby best, it will take no time in getting into the groove of it. And with each feeding, your baby will let you know when he or she has had enough and when the time to stop is. This way, you can recognise the diet and subsequent growth pattern of your baby too. A healthy and happy breastfeeding period is important in the bonding of a mother and her child.

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