These are the best breastfeeding positions that should be learned and practised by every new mother. There is no single position that fits all. Every mum and her baby will find their own ideal position they both find most comfortable. Try these nursing positions to figure out which one you enjoy the most.
1. Cradle Hold (also called Madonna Hold)
This is probably the most traditional baby holding style. The cradle position is used most frequently and works better for bigger babies (three months of age and above). Also, it’s perfect for mums who desire to breastfeed discreetly outdoors.
How To Cradle Hold A Baby
Lay your baby on your forearm on the same side you’re going to breastfeed from (e.g. to feed from your right breast, cradle your baby in your right arm). Your baby should rest comfortably on their side while you support their head with your arm like a cushion. Prop up your arm and your baby with pads of any type, positioning baby’s mouth directly in front of your nipple.If you are feeding a neonate, their backside should be lined up with their head. With bigger babies, try to cradle them such that their head is a bit higher than their bottom. Your opposite hand will lift and position the breast if necessary.
Recommended for: infants who are past the newborn phase and who have already learned how to latch and feed efficiently. For new moms who want more privacy when feeding in public.
2. Cross-Over Hold (also called Transitional Hold)
Being a variation on the cradle hold, this type of hold is ideal for small babies in the first weeks of life who have trouble latching and whose breastfeeding is not well established.
How to Breastfeed in the Cross-Over Hold
Place a soft padded material on your lap to help support the baby and carefully lay them across your lap. In this hold the baby’s body and head are supported with the arm opposite the breast you use for feeding. For example, if you feed from your right breast, cradle your baby in your left hand and arm. Your thumb should be placed behind baby’s right ear and your other fingers behind their left ear. The back of your baby’s head and his neck are secured in the center of your palm. Prop baby’s shoulders and their upper body with your open hand. Cup your breast with the hand on the same side. Help your baby latch by rubbing the nipple against their top lip until baby opens their mouth wide. Then, move baby’s body towards your breast and gently insert it deeper inside their mouth.
Recommended for: infants who require assistance with proper attachment, as well as low birth weight and preterm babies.
3. Laid-Back Position, also referred to as Biological Nurturing
This position is often the first moms and babies instinctively use after delivery. Mom is lying comfortably on her back and baby is placed on her chest. This skin-to-skin stimulates his reflexes and he starts looking for the nipple. Newborn is securely kept in position by gravity and maternal body curvature. Research finds that this most natural nursing style promotes the baby’s primitive neonatal reflexes to find the breast and nipple and start to feed all by himself.
How To Nurse Biologically
Lie back against some cushions or pillows. Make sure you feel comfortable and relaxed. (You don’t have to lie flat on your back, just support yourself into a slightly reclining position.) Many mothers discover that button-downs and tank tops are most suitable for keeping baby skin to skin.
Put your baby on his front on top of your bare abdomen, so that you are skin to skin with your baby. Wait till your baby finds the nipple, or let them find it on their own. When using laid-back breastfeeding, there is not just one right way to do it, so each mama selects her own favorite versions by experimenting.
Recommended for: Newborn babies, babies who struggle with latching, mothers who want to nurse and repose at the same time.
4. Clutch Hold (also called Rugby/Football Hold)
This hold is especially good for mothers who have delivered via C-section as it protects their abdominal scar from baby’s weight. It scores for twin mums as well since both babies can be breastfed simultaneously. This is not the most favorable hold if your child is drowsy or asleep because in this case valuable physical contact will be wasted.
How To Breastfeed In The Clutch Hold
Lay your child belly up beside you. Baby’s body should extend along your side with their feet pointing towards your back. Put pillows underneath your baby to lift it to the height of your nipple. Hold baby’s head with the hand on your feeding side, similar to the cross-over position. Support your breast using the opposite hand and pull baby’s head close to your nipple. Baby’s body should take a semi-reclined position. Add some more cushions to bolster your little one and your arm so that you don’t strain.
Recommended for: babies born by C-section, nursing two babies at the same time, and twin mothers.
5. Lying Down Position aka Side-Lying Nursing
This style is the most challenging to get the hang of but as soon as you master it you’ll find how extremely useful and comfortable it is. This hold is an invaluable aid for mums who co-sleep with their babies and is best for nursing in bed at night. It allows you to breastfeed while you’re lying down, plus you can take a little nap while your child nurses.
This hold is excellent for obtaining enough healthy sleep, which is essential for getting through the first weeks with a newborn.
How To Breastfeed While Lying Down
Lie down on the side you will nurse from with your bottom arm tucked under your head or holding your child (it’s good to prop your baby up with a rolled-up diaper so they don’t suddenly roll backwards). You and your baby must be tummy-to-tummy, with baby’s mouth right next to your nursing breast. To allow baby to self-attach, you may raise your upper body slightly, propping yourself up on your elbow. Keep your baby in position with your bottom arm, while adjusting your breast with your upper hand.
Once baby is attached to your breast, lower your body again carefully. Or, you may want to ask your husband or someone close to you to assist baby in latching so you don’t have to take a semi-sitting position. Another way to use this position is to put a newborn on it’s side face to face with you and hold yourself up on your elbow while you’re getting settled. Next, bring your child in close to you or slide yourself toward your baby so they are able to reach your breast easily. Then, grab your breast with your hand and hold it close enough to your baby so they can get a good deep latch. When baby is attached, you can fully relax and even snooze while baby is feeding. Just make sure your elbow is supported beside your face and that it doesn’t interfere with your baby’s mouth.
Recommended for: breastfeeding during the night, for mothers who feel sick or want to relax/take a nap while feeding. Also, it works better for bigger babies or toddlers who are already expert nursers.
6. Breastfeeding In A Baby Carrier
It’s probably not a legitimate “nursing hold” though, but it definitely deserved to be mentioned as many mamas love to breastfeed their babies while wearing them in a carrier. That’s a double duty mom! This is probably the best way to nurse bigger babies who are experienced at nursing and have strong head and neck muscles. The hold also allows to nurse discreetly, which many mothers will find helpful.
How To Use A Baby Carrier Method
Pull baby closer to your breast. Once it’s latched, get it to rest the side of its face against your breast so that your baby’s airwaves are not obstructed.
Recommended for: infants who have already mastered breastfeeding and have steady head-and-neck control. Moms who want less exposure when feeding in public.
Why You Should Change Breastfeeding Positions Frequently
Quite often, new moms naturally find the best suitable breastfeeding position (usually, the cradle hold) and keep nursing their baby like that, never changing the hold. Yet, using just one position for breastfeedinf is not enough and may put your health at risk! Why? And what happens if you stick to one nursing hold?
When the baby latches to your breast and starts nursing, the strongest part of their mouth is the chin, so they are extracting milk effectively from the area their chin is pointed at. Having said this, I don’t mean that other parts of the breast remain filled with milk, however, some areas in the milk ducts might have some stagnant milk left in there.
If the breast is not emptied well during one breastfeeding session, you risk at developping a clogged milk duct, which is a red, sore and painful lump on your breast filled with stagnant milk. It is very serious, especially, if not treated properly and in time, because the more milk comes in, the more milk builds up in a clog making it worse. A clogged milk duct will never be cured by itself, so if left untreated, it may cause a severe inflammation in the breast, which is mastitis.
Now, in order to avoid that, make sure to change breastfeeding positions often and master at least three of them to alter throughout the day.
Fot those women who have bigger breasts I would also recommend to try hovering over your baby, so that your breast will hang down to their mouth. Since the most common problem with big breast is that there is usually more milk left in the lower part of the breast which again may cause the duct to clog.
3 Things To Read Next
29 Totally Awesome Breastfeeding Tips