The Best Breastfeeding Positions
It’s so important to find the best breastfeeding positions for you and your baby. The last thing you want to do is start out breastfeeding uncomfortable.
I’ve seen it too often: mom hunches over, cranes her neck and tries to latch her baby. Then her baby latches and…
She can’t move.
By the middle of feeding time, mama’s back is screaming at her and she may even start to shake. Often, the latch is lost and they have to start over.
That’s why it’s so important to start out comfortable!
Use as many pillows as you need to prop yourself up, grab a stool to bring your feet higher, anything you need! Then, choose one of these fantastic breastfeeding positions to breastfeed your baby!
The Most Important Breastfeeding Position
Before I get into the 6 best breastfeeding positions… lets talk about the most important thing.
I already mentioned it.
Like I said, make sure you’re comfortable! Use a good chair, support your feet, grab as many pillows as you need.
But so is your baby’s comfort.
Your baby needs to be comfortable in order to latch well and breastfeed successfully.
Comfortable Breastfeeding Position For Baby
Your baby needs to be positioned in the right way for breastfeeding success.
Here’s how to tell your baby is comfortable while breastfeeding:
- Head, Shoulder And Hip Are In A Line. Look at your baby and draw an imaginary line from their ear to their shoulder and hip. If it’s straight, your baby is positioned well!.
- Head Isn’t Turned. Be sure your baby doesn’t have their head turned to the right or the left. It isn’t very comfortable or effective to eat with a turned head and neck.
- Neck Is Straight, Chin Neutral. Don’t try to feed your baby with a tucked or extended chin! They can’t latch well if their chin is tucked or extended. Make sure your baby’s neck is straight and their jaw is in a natural position.
- Freedom To Move. Allow your baby to move their head freely. While you need to support your baby’s back and neck, don’t press their head into your breast. Your baby needs freedom to move their head while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Positions For Babies
Here they are! These are the 6 best and most common breastfeeding positions for babies.
Cross Cradle Position
In this pose, baby and mommy are “tummy to tummy”, and mommy supports baby with the arm opposite the breast baby is feeding from.
Offer baby support with your hand, but make sure that your baby can still tilt their head back while feeding. This position frees the hand on the feeding side for use with breast compression if needed.
Cradle pose is similar to cross-cradle, but baby’s head is supported by the arm on the same side as the breast.
The other arm may be used as extra support behind baby’s shoulders. Many moms find placing a pillow under their arms makes the feeding session more comfortable and offers more support.
Football pose places baby at the mother’s side, with support coming from the arm on the same side as the breast baby is feeding from.
This can be helpful for women with big breasts, as the hand on the opposite side is free for any breast manipulation that may be necessary.
In this position, mommy should comfortably lean back against a pillow or other supportive surface. Baby will lay on mommy’s stomach, and may have head support with mommy’s hand.
Again, it is important to remember that baby needs freedom to move their head if necessary. Sometimes this position is useful for women with a forceful letdown.
This is also called the “down under” pose because the mother is down under baby. The baby is lying on mommy’s chest, and may be supported by either of mommy’s hands.
This position may be necessary for mothers that have an extremely forceful letdown or an overabundance of milk. The baby can more easily control the flow of milk so they are not overwhelmed.
Both mommy and baby are laying on their sides, facing each other with side-lying pose.
Baby can be supported with mommy’s free upper arm if needed, or mommy may place her supporting arm under baby’s head.
This is a useful position for nighttime feeds because it’s comfortable and allows you to stay laying down!
Breastfeeding Positions For Newborns
Believe it or not, breastfeeding positions are different for newborns and older babies!
In essence they are the same (called the same thing)… but positioning a newborn is very different.
An older baby is able to move more easily. You might have heard of gymnastic nursing. It’s when an older baby starts breastfeeding in all sorts of crazy positions.
The above positions are useful for newborn babies that can’t position themselves yet.
Perhaps the best newborn position is the laid-back position.
That’s because it allows your baby freedom of movement and to lead the breastfeeding session. But whatever you choose, know that newborns need a little more help.
You have a larger role to ensure that a newborn baby is comfortable when breastfeeding. Double check their alignment, support their body, and make sure your newborn’s head is in a comfortable position.
In Conclusion: Breastfeeding Positions
The most important part: be comfortable! Make the breastfeeding experience positive by choosing the right position for you and your baby.
If you need professional help to find out which position is best for you, Little Bear Care offers online lactation counseling from the comfort of your home! Click here for breastfeeding help.
Kealy Hawk, BSN, RN, CLC
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own baby feeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their feeding journey. She specializes in breastfeeding support and evidence-based formula recommendations. To talk with Kealy or take one of her breastfeeding or formula classes, visit https://littlebearcare.com.
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