So many questions surround breastfeeding positions. The most commonly asked question is, “Which one is best for my baby?” The answer is, “Any position that ensures your baby is transferring milk and does not cause you pain.” Many times it is simply a matter of personal preference, as some positions feel more comfortable for some women than others. Many times, the position in which a mother feeds her baby in the hospital or birthing centre is what she and her baby gravitate toward.
There is no good or bad position. However, depending on your baby’s needs and type of labor, one breastfeeding position may be more comfortable for Mom and optimal for her baby. Correct positioning is important – it is the foundation of achieving a good latch, which then leads to efficient feeds for your baby and eliminates nipple pain and damage for Mom.
The Different Types of Breastfeeding Positions
This is one of the most popular breastfeeding positions. It involves holding the baby in your arms, using the same side for nursing and support. If nursing from the right breast, use your right arm to support the baby by making sure that his head is snuggled into the nook of the same side elbow. TIP- use pillows to support your back and arm and also to prop baby up to bring him closer to you. You want to have yourself positioned and supported so that you bring baby to you and not you to baby. Make sure your baby’s body is snuggled up close and turned towards you think, “Tummy to mummy.”
Cross Cradle Hold
This is the same concept as cradle, except your arms switch roles. Picture baby is snuggled in against you, just like with the cradle hold. It can be hard to understand just reading about it. Think of it like this, if you are nursing from the right breast, you will use your left hand to support baby’s neck and their body will lay across your left arm. TIP- Watch out for holding the back of their head to ensure it is supported. Instead, support by placing your hand at the base of their head, supporting head neck and shoulders. Babies do not like the back of their head being touched, which makes sense. Would you want someone touching the back of your head while you were trying to eat? Not the most comfortable when having a meal! A supportive nursing pillow, like my brest friend, or any pillow can be a helpful tool to navigate how to support and hold your baby while nursing. Again this is a matter of preference; try it out to see what works best for you.
Many mamas with larger breasts gravitate toward this breastfeeding position. It is also helpful for moms who had a c-section, as there is no pressure on the abdominal area. Baby is still nicely snuggled in against you, but at your side. Again, pillows for support are your friend! You will hold your baby on your arm with your hand supporting the neck at the based of their head and their legs tucked against your body, going backwards. This is also a nice position to get a deep latch. This is due to the way the baby is positioned, they can get more of the bottom part of the areola in their mouth. TIP- Make sure that baby’s feet are tucked in and supported, not dangling.
This is the one position where you go to baby and don’t bring your baby to you. Lie baby down, go on your hands and knees, and dangle your breast so that you are above the baby as he feeds. This position is good for working out clogged milk ducts as gravity helps. It is also helpful if you are feeding on the go and do not want to take baby out of the car seat.
This is a great position for post c-section also and to lie down and give your body a break. Lie on one side, say for example the left side. You will be feeding from your left breast. Have a pillow ready and take your left arm and put it under the pillow supporting your head and extending your left arm straight out. This also raises your breast slightly. Tuck your baby, who is lying on their side like you, close up against your body. Bring baby up so that he is facing the breast and when nipple touches nose, this will cause him to open his mouth and you can gently help him latch. TIP- You can use your right hand to support their back or use a rolled up blanket for support.
Laid Back or Biological Hold
Some mothers love this position and others say it does not feel comfortable. It’s all about your personal preference and how your baby nurses best. For this position, like the name says, you will lean back. Scoot your bum and hips down so you are not sitting upright. For newborns who are very new to the world, placing them high on your tummy so that they are looking up at the breast works well. You can hold your breast and gently guide them to the nipple. Any “up-hill” position like this works well for babies who have reflux and moms that have a strong let down, as gravity is helping with feeding the baby in an upright position to reduce reflux. They can manage the milk flow better in this position. TIP- In this position, baby’s knees are up and flexed out to either side in a frog-like position.
This is another great position for babies that have reflux, ear infections, tongue-ties and for moms who have a strong let down. Hold your baby upright facing your breast head on, with their legs straddling your torso in the same flexed frog-like position. You can place your arm under their bum or at their back to support them while the other hand holds the breast until they latch. Once latched place your hand to support their shoulders or back.TIP- Once your baby can support their head you can use this position to feed while in a carrier or sling.
Dancer or Supported Koala
This breastfeeding position is hugely beneficial for babies who have low muscle tone, special needs, or a disability. These babies need more of a helping hand and support for their body and face. Similar to upright koala, bring baby close and facing you. Use your hand to make a “U” shape under your breast. Use the thumb and pointer finger of that same hand to support baby’s jaw and face at your breast. Your thumb will be placed on their jaw and one cheek, holding baby’s face.our pointer finger will support the other cheek. TIP- Skin to skin is great in this position.
Try these breastfeeding positions to find what is comfortable for you and your baby. While you’re at the hospital, after delivering, ask for the nurses to guide you. That is what they’re there for! If you get home and are still looking for some guidance, please contact Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. We can send an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to your home to offer you some guidance.
About The Author
Olivia Wojcik, RN has a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from SNHU, summa cum laude. She is a Certified Lactation Consultant through ALLP and Reiki level II practitioner. Olivia is trained as a Sleep Coach and Newborn Care Expert with BBN&N. In addition she is the mother to a beautiful two year old girl.