Positions and tips to make breastfeeding work
Breastfeeding, one of the most natural acts in the world, takes practice. Learning how to hold and support your baby in a comfortable position for you calls for coordination — and patience. Here are some time-tested positions to try, plus tips to make nursing go smoothly.
1) The cradle hold
This classic breastfeeding position requires you to cradle your baby’s head with the crook of your arm. Sit in a chair that has supportive armrests or on a bed with lots of pillows. Rest your feet on a stool or other raised surface to avoid leaning down toward your baby.
- Hold her in your lap (or on a pillow on your lap) so that she’s lying on her side with her face, stomach, and knees directly facing you. Tuck her lower arm under your own.
2) The cross over hold
This position differs from the cradle hold in that you don’t support your baby’s head with the crook of your arm. Instead, your arms switch roles.
- If you’re nursing from your right breast, use your left hand and arm to hold your baby. Rotate his body so his chest and tummy are directly facing you. With your thumb and fingers behind his head and below his ears, guide his mouth to your breast.
3) The clutch or football hold
As the name suggests, in this position you tuck your baby under your arm (on the same side that you’re nursing from) like a football or handbag.
- First, position your baby at your side, under your arm. She should be facing you with her nose level with your nipple and her feet pointing toward your back.
- Rest your arm on a pillow in your lap or right beside you, and support your baby’s shoulders, neck, and head with your hand. Using a C-hold, guide her to your nipple, chin first.
- But be careful — don’t push her toward your breast so much that she resists and arches her head against your hand. Use your forearm to support her upper back.
You may want to try this hold if you’ve had a Cesarean section (to avoid having the baby rest on your stomach.
4) Reclining hold position
To nurse while lying on your side in bed, ask your partner or helper to place several pillows behind your back for support. You can put a pillow under your head and shoulders, and one between your bent knees, too. The goal is to keep your back and hips in a straight line.
- With your baby facing you, draw him close and cradle his head with the hand of your bottom arm. Or, cradle his head with your top arm, tucking your bottom arm under your head, out of the way.
- If your baby needs to be higher and closer to your breast, place a small pillow or folded receiving blanket under his head. He shouldn’t strain to reach your nipple, and you shouldn’t bend down toward him. You may need to lift your breast, with your fingers underneath, so he can reach comfortably.