There are many breastfeeding positions. In fact, there are no rules about the right position, but there are breastfeeding patterns that will facilitate attachment, swallowing and breastfeeding in general.
Different breastfeeding positions
Although positioning is widely taught in antenatal classes, there is no right or wrong way to feed your baby. Typically, mothers choose to alternate between different ‘holds’. It is worthwhile trying out positions to find what works best for you and your baby.
Important guidelines for all breastfeeding positions:
- Make yourself comfortable. To support the let-down reflex, you should sit in a relaxed position.
- Hold the baby close to your body, belly to belly, well supported by your cradling arm. Rest your arm on pillows for support if needed.
- Have a drink for yourself within easy reach.
- Shape your breast with your free hand in the same direction as your baby’s mouth, either vertically or horizontally.
The cradle hold is the most common breastfeeding position. It works almost everywhere.
This position is very good for experienced breastfeeding mums and babies. It is rather difficult for beginners, because the mother cannot give optimal support for the baby to latch on.
- Make sure the tip of your baby's nose is in front of your nipple. To latch on in this position, the baby needs to tip their head back slightly. This will make swallowing and breathing easier.
- Use your free hand to shape your nipple in the same direction as your baby's mouth.
Avoid drawing the baby to your breast by pushing on the baby’s head. This will bury their nose and block your view of their face. The baby’s lips should be flanged out.
The cross-cradle position allows you to optimally support your baby during the learning phase. Once the baby has learned to latch on properly, mothers usually continue in the cradle position.
- Take your baby in your arms as shown in the picture. Your hand supports their head, your forearm their back. If you have your baby on your right arm, you will feed them on your left breast and vice versa.
- Shape your breast from below with your free hand. Your shaped breast and the baby's mouth will fit together perfectly.
Once the baby has latched on and is feeding, you may take your baby in your other arm and move to the cradle position.
In this position, support for latch on is optimal: it is easy to bring the baby to your breast and you can see your baby’s entire face.
This is a very good position for feeding nervous babies, because holding the baby tightly to your body makes the baby feel safe.
It is also a very good position for feeding sleepy babies. Just position the baby so they are almost sitting beside you.
- The baby lies on your left arm when feeding from the left breast and on your right arm when feeding from the right breast.
- Your hand supports their head, your forearm their back.
- Your baby’s feet are in between your back and the back of the chair. The baby’s body is bent into a 90° position.
This is a comfortable position for experienced breastfeeding mums to use at night. For beginners, it is a rather difficult position.
- Lay your baby at your side, belly to belly.
- The baby should be ‘downhill’ from your breast (your nipple should touch the baby on the nose). Support your baby’s back with a towel or pillow.
- Your baby will sense the nipple and push up to take it (this will tip their nose away from the breast and allow the baby to breathe freely, swallow properly and the two of you to look into one another’s eyes).