Breastfeeding for first-time mothers often seems like a complicated process. It requires practice and preparation is always recommended. Many mothers prefer to breastfeed when sitting in cozy chairs that have armrests or a glider. Footstools and pillows especially donut-type pillows provide great support while nursing. Finding a comfortable nursing position is important, not just for the mother but the baby as well. Below we have a few breastfeeding positions that should help you have a comfortable nursing experience.
4 Best Breastfeeding Positions
1. The Cradle Hold
The cradle hold is a very common breastfeeding position that allows you to cradle the baby’s head while supporting it with the crook of you arm. You will need a chair with armrests or if breastfeeding in bed you will need to have lots of pillows for arm support. Raise your legs using a coffee table or stool so as to avoid straining your back while leaning toward the baby. Hold your baby in your lap and lay her body on the side with her face and entire body facing you. Keep the baby’s lower arm tucked into your arm and rest her head on your arm’s crook. Lengthen your forearm to provide back, neck and bottom support for the baby. Essentially, the baby should lie in a horizontal position or side angle.
This position is best for mothers who underwent normal delivery. Women who underwent a cesarean section may not be too comfortable with this nursing position, as it applies pressure on the abdomen. It may also be easier to use this position on a baby when the baby has a more developed spine.
2. The Cross-Over Hold
With this breastfeeding position, you use your arms to support the baby’s head as opposed to the crook of your arm. When breastfeeding using your right breast, use your left hand and arm to support and hold the baby. Rotate the baby’s body and have her tummy and chest facing you directly. Place your fingers and thumb behind the baby’s head and gently guide her to your breast. This position is great for infants or small babies who are unable to latch well.
3. The Football Hold/ Clutch
The football hold/clutch nursing position requires that you hold your baby under the arm of the side you are nursing from. Place the baby on your side, facing you. Her nose should be on your nipple level with her feet pointing to your back. Ensure that you use a pillow to provide arm support. This also helps in supporting the baby’s back and head. Guide your nipple to the chin and be careful not to push the baby too hard in the direction of your breast. Your forearm needs to support the upper back part of the baby.
This hold is great for mothers who underwent a cesarean section, as it avoids the abdomen. If your baby is small or has problems latching, this hold should help guide the baby to the nipple. The position works well with women who need to nurse twins or those with large breasts.
4. The Side-lying Position
The side-lying breastfeeding position is also known as the reclining position and provides a laid back way to nurse. You will however need back support. Use pillows to support your head and shoulders, and also use a pillow to bend your knees. The whole idea is to keep the entire body straight as you nurse. Your baby should face you and you can cradle her head with the top or bottom part of the arm. If you need to keep your baby at a higher level or closer to your breast, use a small pillow or blanket to support her head. Neither you nor the baby should strain with this position. The side-lying position is great for mothers who are recovering from a cesarean section or those who underwent a difficult delivery. It also works well when nursing in bed.
More breastfeeding positions and instructions can be viewed in this video.
Tips on Breastfeeding Positions
1. Support your body by choosing a comfortable chair to nurse. Go for chairs with armrests and also use pillows for back, neck and arm support. Use a few pillows for feet support to as to avoid straining while you bend towards your baby. A footstool or coffee table also could provide leg support. Ensure that you place your baby on your breast and not your breast on your baby.
2. Support your breasts when nursing by using your hands. Your breasts are at their largest while nursing and you will need to support them using your fingers. Hold your breast with a C-hold by placing your four fingers on your breast and thumb underneath. You can also use the V-hold which is basically holding the breast between your index and middle finger. Keep your fingers about 2-inches from the nipple area.
3. Support your baby to ensure that they nurse with ease. You can use pillows, or your arms and hand to support the newborn’s head and body. Keep the baby in a straight line using all nursing positions and swaddle her arms on the side to make the nursing process more comfortable for both parties.
4. Have variations with your nursing routine. You can avoid developing clogged milk ducts by alternating your breastfeeding routine. Alternating the breasts also boosts milk production.
5. Relax before you nurse and ensure that you stay hydrated at all times.
How to Latch on Properly
Once you have your baby in the right nursing position, you now need to ensure that they latch on the breast properly. Ensure that the baby’s mouth is wide open with her tongue down when helping her latch on. Support your breast using your fingers as this helps the baby latch. Glide your nipple into the baby’s mouth and ensure that the baby takes in a large part of the areola. The baby’s nose should not press against your breast, but slightly touch it. Once your baby is properly latched in, you will feel some pain though for a limited duration. You will also feel a tug as the baby sucks but, for a short while. If breastfeeding becomes uncomfortable or painful, stop nursing and reposition the baby.