No matter how prepared you are for breastfeeding, once your baby arrives, you may have a lot of questions and concerns. Many moms wonder what position they should use for nursing, and while there is no right or wrong answer, there are a few common positions you might want to try.
These positions are fairly easy for you to do on your own, but you may want to have someone help you get settled in until you get the hang of it. Pillows under your arms or behind your back can support you and your baby and make breastfeeding more comfortable and relaxing.
This position is fantastic for new moms, especially right after delivery. Cross-cradle allows you to control your breast and help your newborn latch on. To achieve the cross-cradle position, use the hand opposite of the breast you want to feed on to support your baby’s head at the base of the neck. Use that arm to support your baby’s body. You can then use the hand on the side you’re feeding on to support your breast and aid your baby in latching on. So, if you're nursing on the right side, use your left arm to support your baby and your right hand to help him or her latch.
Moms typically use this position when they’re more comfortable with breastfeeding and their babies are a little bigger and stronger. Cradle your baby in the arm on the side from which you plan to breastfeed. The base of your baby’s neck and head should rest in the crook of your elbow. Use your opposite arm and hand to support your baby’s bottom or use that hand to support your breast and assist your baby in latching on. So, if you're nursing on the right side, use your right arm to cradle your baby and your left hand to help him or her latch. This position may be a little challenging in the first couple of weeks, but you will get better at it with practice!
This position can make breastfeeding less painful for a busty mom or one who birthed via C-section; with cradle and cross-cradle, your baby’s weight may put pressure on the incision site. To use the football hold, support your baby with the arm on the side from which you will be nursing. Your baby’s body will be wrapped around your side rather than across your front, as it is in cradle and cross-cradle. Make sure your baby’s head is even with your breast. To support the head, place your hand on the nape of your baby’s neck; use your arm to support his or her body.
Laid-back or reclined
This position is a great way to feed babies since they love to be tummy to tummy with their moms. It’s also a great position for babies struggling with reflux or overactive letdown. Many moms who have delivered via C-section find it comfortable too. While in a laid-back or reclined position—whether in a hospital bed, recliner, or sofa—place your baby on your chest and allow him or her to bob over to your nipple, mouth gaping. If left undisturbed while skin to skin, many healthy newborns will often self-latch. You can also help guide your baby to your breast, using one hand to maneuver your breast where needed.
This position allows moms to get some rest while nursing. Lie down on your side in bed, keeping the area around your baby free of pillows and blankets. Place your arm or a pillow under your head or wherever is comfortable. Bring your knees up in a fetal position and place your top arm on your legs or over your baby. Pillows behind your back can help support you in this position. Place your baby on his or her side facing you, tummy to tummy, with your nipple even to your little one’s nose to encourage a nice, wide latch. You can use either breast when nursing side lying – so if you’re lying on your right side, you can nurse using your right or left breast, depending on the size and shape of your breasts and what is more comfortable. This position gets easier with time, so try not to get frustrated when attempting it; it may be an easier position for older babies and larger-chested moms.
You can vary your position for each feeding or throughout a feeding. You can even get creative, coming up with your own special position that works for you and your baby. Know that whatever breastfeeding position you use, your baby is being fed and bonding with you. Choose the position that is most comfortable and relaxing for you and enjoy snuggling and nourishing your little one.