There are many breastfeeding positions you can try with your baby to decide what works best. Here are some popular positions.
Before you start
Regardless of what position you take, you should always make sure that:
- Your baby’s body is close to yours
- Your shoulders are relaxed, and your baby’s body should be slightly lower than your nipples
The classic hold: Cradle hold
The cradle hold is perhaps the most common position to hold a baby. Here is how to establish it.
- Hold your baby with your arm and rest the neck on the crook of the arm; the hand supports the rest of the body
- Align the baby’s ear, shoulders, and hips in a straight line
- Place the baby’s lower arm under yours
- Feed the baby on the breast that is on the same side as the supporting arm
Although most common, some women have found this position challenging to feed a newborn or when the baby becomes too big to hold with one arm.
Good for a newborn: Cross-cradle hold
This position can be very effective in helping a newborn establish a good latch because the mother’s hand is controlling the head.
- Hold your baby with your forearm and use the hand to support the neck; the crook of your arm is under the baby’s bottom
- Use your hand that is on the same side as the feeding breast to support your baby’s head and bring it to the breast
- Make sure the neck and the body are in line with each other
Natural and intuitive: Reclining hold
As the name suggests, in this position, the baby rests on your reclined body and is allowed to find the nipple and feed. This is how you can try this:
- Sit on a reclined surface with your neck and head supported
- Place your baby on your body, with the head at the breast level and close to the nipples; make sure that the neck is not bent
- Use your hand or arm to help your baby as much as needed
The baby’s instinct will guide them to your nipple to start feeding. Make sure that the nose is not obstructed.
C-section or feeding twins: Football hold
Also known as the Clutch hold, the football hold is popular among women with large breasts or who have undergone a C-section because the baby’s body is not on top of the mother’s abdomen. You should have a pillow next to you on the feeding side for support. Start by:
- Holding your baby on the arm; your hand supporting the nape of the neck
- Positioning the baby’s body near your waist with the baby’s hip next to yours
- Bringing the baby’s mouth to the nipple that is the same side as the holding arm
Mothers with twins who choose to nurse their newborns simultaneously also use this hold.
Resting: Side-lying hold
Many moms choose to breastfeed their babies in this position during sleeping hours as they will be lying next to each other. Here are the steps.
- Lie on your side facing your baby, with the lower arm supporting your neck
- Use the upper arm to gently guide your baby close to your breasts while lying on the side
- Support your baby’s back and neck with the free arm
- Make sure the baby’s neck and back are inlined
In this position, please take precautionary steps to minimize the possibility of suffocation and SIDS by removing any blankets or pillows nearby. Also, avoid falling asleep during the session.
Older babies: Upright hold
This position is suitable for older babies who can self-support when staying upright. In addition, it is very convenient when the two of you are outside.
- Place your baby on your lap or straddle your leg with their legs strapped around your waist, or not, whichever the baby prefers
- Support the baby’s back and neck as needed
There is no right or wrong position in breastfeeding. The best position is the one that brings the most comfort and satisfaction to both of you throughout the nursing sessions.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (10 November 2021)