5 Different Breastfeeding Positions, With Tips!
Hi, friends! I’m Amanda DeWeese, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with Lactation Link and breastfeeding mama with four sons. Today, with the help of Milky Bae, we’re going to explore the answer to one of our most frequently asked questions:
“What position should I use for breastfeeding?”
I get this question all the time! You may not believe the answer: whatever works best for you and baby!
The most important things are that the position is both effective and comfortable (for both you and baby). If baby is able to effectively transfer milk, and if it’s not painful for you or baby, it doesn’t matter what the position looks like. And trust me, as they get older, the positions can get really, um, creative.
Okay, so it may not look exactly like this, but nursing gymnastics can definitely get interesting!
And guess what? You don’t have to use only one position, and the positions that you use may vary throughout your breastfeeding journey, or even day by day or feed by feed, especially if baby is sick, born prematurely, becomes distracted, has an injury, etc. Being relaxed and flexible can help make the experience easier for both you and your little one!
So now let’s talk about some of the most commonly used positions.
1. Cradle Hold
This is probably one of the most commonly seen breastfeeding positions portrayed in media and social media. Baby is latched on to your breast on the same side of the arm that is supporting baby’s body. Your opposite hand is free to help with positioning/latching. You can use a pillow to help lift baby’s body, so that you don’t have to painfully lean or hunch over your baby.
2. Cross Cradle Hold
This is another really commonly used position. It is similar to the cradle hold, but instead, baby is latched on to the breast opposite of the arm that is supporting baby’s body. This leaves the hand on the side that baby is nursing on free to help with positioning/latching. You may like this position because it gives you more control.
3. Football Hold
Another great position to try is the football hold. In this position, baby is supported with your arm on the side of your body, similar to how a football player carries a football. This can be a comfortable position for after a Cesarean birth, since it doesn’t put pressure directly on the incision. Pillows can help support baby in this position as well.
One of my personal favorites is the side-lying position! Both you and baby are lying on your sides facing each other while lying down. This one can take a little bit of practice to get the hang of it, but once you do, I often hear that this is a favorite! With some practice, you may even find that you are able to elevate baby to be able to nurse on both breasts without having to turn over. This position can be especially helpful if you find it to be uncomfortable to sit upright for extended periods of time, like after a difficult birth.
Laid-back positioning, also called biological nurturing, is another great position for relaxing and putting your feet up. Using pillows or cushions to support your body, lean back so that you are in a reclined position with baby resting on his tummy on top of you. This is a great position to try doing skin-to-skin with your little one and encourages natural breastfeeding instincts.
Positioning twins or multiples can take some extra practice and extra hands! You may find that it’s really beneficial to have a helper as you learn how to get your babies latched on, especially if you would like to feed two at the same time. You may find that feeding one baby at a time works best or that it’s more convenient to feed simultaneously—whatever works for you and your little ones is perfectly fine! Many of the positions shown here can be adapted to multiples, but please let me know if you have any specific questions!
Want to see these positions in action? Check out Lactation Link’s gorgeous video collection! Need more step-by-step demonstrations individualized for you and your little one? We can walk through them together. E-consultations provide the expertise of a lactation specialist without having to take one step away from the couch, while in-person visits provide the convenience of learning these positions firsthand.