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Breastfeeding Positions for Mom and Baby

Are you finding that your baby's breastfeeding positioning isn’t working? Not all breastfeeding positions are created equal! Finding the right one that works for you and the milk tyrant could be just exploring new ones. You could be trying the football hold, cradle hold, or laid-back hold: almost self-explanatory names but each with its benefits and positioning.

Which works best for you? Let’s first talk about what your baby wants – milk and then get into the positioning.

It starts with the production of milk: Colostrum to Breast Milk.

Colostrum is the first form of breast milk that is released by the mammary glands after you give birth. It’s high in antibodies and nutrient-dense. It’s superpower milk to empower your baby’s immune system. Your body starts colostrum production as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy and can be expressed immediately after birth. Within two to four days after your baby is born, it will turn into breast milk. Colostrum is thicker and more yellow than breast milk.

During this time, you’ll be practicing your delivery of milk from your breast to your baby's belly. With some trial and error, you’ll be able to find a successful breastfeeding position that works for both of you. Give yourself time to be successful. There’s no fine print that says you’ll have success right away. Before you know it, you’ll be a breastfeeding pro with a baby that’s a full belly pro.

How should you hold your baby during breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding starts by placing your baby on one side toward your breasts. You’ll want to position your baby to where their whole body is facing your chest. Try to get their ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line. Using a nursing pillow, bring your baby to a position that makes maneuvering them to your breast easier. Those tips are some rough basics, but there are many ways you can find success with your baby.

What are some of the most common breastfeeding holds? Let’s look into each one and position to be successful.

How do you do the Cradle Hold position for breastfeeding?

  • Place your baby in the bend of your elbow on the side you’ll be breastfeeding from. Use your other hand to support the rest of your baby’s body.
  • Cup your breast with your other hand and place your thumb above your nipple and areola in the spot your baby’s nose will touch. 

  • Compress your breast, so your nipple is facing your baby’s nose. You’ll want to have your index finger at the spot where your baby’s chin will be. Begin the latch!

How do you do the Crossover Hold position for breastfeeding?

  • Hold your baby’s head with the opposite hand to your nursing breast.
  • If you are nursing from the left breast, hold the baby’s head with your right hand.
  • Try to rest your wrist between the baby’s shoulder blades, your thumb behind one ear, and your other fingers behind the other. You should cradle the baby’s neck to allow natural movement.
  • With your free hand, cup your breast and repeat the same process as cradle hold.

How do you do the Side-lying position for breastfeeding?

  • Suitable for breastfeeding in the middle of the night.
  • Lay on your side, tummy to tummy with your baby.
  • With your free hand, you’re not lying on, cup your breast if you need to.

This position shouldn’t be used on a water bed, couch, recliner, or in a place with excess bedding. Clear your bed of extra stuff and lay on the sheet.

How do you do the Laid-back position for breastfeeding?

Suitable for women with smaller breasts or newborns with sensitive tummies (or lots of gas).

  • Find a bed or couch and create support of pillows for yourself in a semi-reclining position. You’ll want your baby’s head near your breast, and gravity will take over from there. Lean back into your pillow fort with your baby tummy-to-tummy onto your body.
  • As long as the whole front of your baby’s body is against yours and they can reach your breast – the baby can rest in any direction.
  • Your baby should be able to latch naturally from this position. You can direct your nipple towards their mouth if they're having trouble.

  • Lie back and relax.

How do you do the Football Hold position for breastfeeding

Suitable for women who’ve had a C-section, large breasts, a small (or premature) baby, or twins.

  • Position your baby on your side, facing you, and tuck their legs under your arm. If it feels like you’re holding a football, you’re doing it right.
  • Supporting your baby’s head with the same hand (on the same side), use your other hand to cup your breast.

What breastfeeding positions should you avoid?

Making sure your baby is positioned correctly will not only ensure that your breasts will be stimulated to produce more milk, but that they will produce enough milk in the first place. Some positions are better than others, but here are some you should avoid if possible:

Your baby’s body is too far away from your breast: We’ve talked about nipple biting before, but if your baby is too far away from the nipple, you’ll feel a toothy reaction to it.

Your baby’s head and body are facing different directions: If you were to grab a drink and try to swallow it while your head is turned on the side, it’d be pretty tricky, right? Exactly! Ensure your baby’s head and body are facing your breast while feeding.

Don’t hunch over the baby: You may find difficulty getting a proper latch if you’re hunching over the baby. Usually, in this position, you’re pressing your breast into the mouth without success. Keep relaxed and keep your back straight. Once that feels good, bring your baby up to your breast.

How do I unlatch the baby?

Break your baby’s suction first by pressing your breast near their mouth. Do not pull the breast out abruptly, as you could cause injuries to your breast. You could also gently insert your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth.

Finding the correct breastfeeding positions for you and your baby starts with experimenting. Not all positions are created equal. Your little one will quickly explain what works for them (probably not). If you need additional support, please contact our Customer Obsession Team.