Breastfeeding is a uniquely intimate bonding experience between a mother and baby. But let's be honest - it can also be a challenge, especially for new mums figuring out the best breastfeeding position. Correct positioning can ensure your baby latches on properly and feeds well, while also reducing the risk of discomfort or nipple soreness for the mother. However, each mother-baby relationship is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. So, let's explore five different breastfeeding positions to help you discover which one could be right for you and your baby.
Most Common Breastfeeding Positions
#1: The Cradle Hold: A Classic Choice
A traditional and widely used breastfeeding position is the cradle hold. The baby is lying across the mother's lap with the baby's head resting peacefully in the crook of her arm. Make sure the baby's mouth is level with the nipple and that their entire front body is touching the mother.
After the first several weeks, when both the mother and baby have gotten used to breastfeeding, the cradle hold is frequently more comfortable for moms. The mother must, however, prop her arm on a pillow so that the baby doesn't fall off her lap and she doesn't become fatigued quickly.
#2: The Cross-Cradle or Transitional Hold: For Extra Control
The cross-cradle posture can be more advantageous for mums in the first few weeks of a baby's life since it gives them more control. The mother is holding the infant in this posture while also holding the breast she will be feeding from with the opposite arm. Her forearm cradles the baby's back while her hand holds their head and neck.
The cross-cradle grip affords the mother improved control during the latch-on procedure and permits a clear view of the infant. Mothers of smaller or premature newborns may find this especially useful because it makes it easier for them to effectively direct the infant.
#3: The Football Hold: Ideal for C-section Mums
For mothers who have had a C-section, the football hold, often referred to as the clutch hold, is ideal because it takes pressure off the abdomen. Similar to how a football player tucks the ball under their arm, the mother cradles the baby in this position by tucking the baby's legs under her arm on the same side of the breast she is nursing from.
In addition to providing a clear view of the baby's mouth, this position also makes it easier to keep the baby's head still while it latches. For mothers who have large breasts, twins, or a strong let-down reflex, the football hold is also helpful.
#4: The Side-Lying Position: Perfect for Night-time
For nighttime feedings or when the mother is recuperating following a challenging delivery, the side-lying posture can be most appropriate. On their sides, belly to belly, the mother and child are lying. To prevent rolling onto her back, the mother can place a pillow behind her back. The infant's body should be in a straight line, with the nose level with the nipple. This position assures the baby's safety because the mother's arm acts as a barrier against any potential dangers, allowing her to rest or even sleep while nursing.
#5: The Laid-Back Position/Biological Nurturing: A Relaxing Experience
A more laid-back method of nursing called "Biological Nurturing" supports both you and your baby's innate desire to breastfeed. The mother adopts a relaxed posture by relaxing backwards in bed or on a couch while using cushions to support her neck and back. The infant is curled up against her chest and is held in place by gravity.
Due to the influence of gravity, this posture not only makes breastfeeding a peaceful and intimate experience, but it also encourages better milk flow. It's a great position since it lets the baby take the lead and is perfect for mothers who prefer a more natural approach to breastfeeding.
#6: Upright or Koala Hold
The baby is supported by the mother's thigh or hip in the upright or koala position, with their stomachs pressed together. For newborns who like to stay upright due to reflux, have trouble handling a lot of milk, or are nursing while the mother is out and about, this posture is ideal.
Keep in mind that there isn't a universal posture that works for every mother and child pair when it comes to breastfeeding. Since every pair is different, what works perfectly for one might not be as effective for another. The comfort of both you and your baby, as well as their capacity to latch and nurse successfully, should be your top priority. Finding a balance that works for your needs, your comfort, and the needs of your child is key.
The greatest person to determine what feels right for you and your child is you. It might be difficult to breastfeed, especially for new mothers. In the beginning, when you're trying to figure out what works best, it can feel a little overwhelming. Never forget that asking for assistance is acceptable. There are several accessible services, such as La Leche League Leaders who specialize in breastfeeding support and lactation consultants. These experts have a plethora of knowledge and may offer direction, guarantees, and helpful advice to help you navigate this journey.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding is more than just a means of providing food for your infant. It requires love, endurance, and nurture. You will both look back on this particular time in your lives and the life of your child with nostalgia in the years to come. It is a period of bonding that creates the framework for a relationship with your child that will last a lifetime.
If you're having difficulties with breastfeeding positions, experiencing discomfort or pain during feeding, or if your baby is having trouble latching or feeding, it's important to consult with your midwife. They can provide guidance and strategies to improve your breastfeeding experience. In OT&P, we offer the services of lactation consultants. Remember, it's never a bother to seek help; your comfort and your baby's nutrition are paramount.
La Leche League International. (n.d.). Positioning. https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/positioning/
Help at Annerley
Our midwives have assisted many new mothers throughout their postpartum journey. Our clinic provides a wide range of services, including postnatal home visits and lactation consultations by IBCLC qualified professionals. Book an appointment here or join our free ‘Just Pregnant?’ workshop to learn more.