Best Breastfeeding Positions

Use Our Tips to Find the Best Position for You & Baby

Many new moms get discouraged when breastfeeding doesn’t go as smoothly as they anticipated. But the truth is, breastfeeding takes practice. It’s not something you can just immediately do perfectly on the first try. You’ll have to learn how to hold and support your baby, which takes coordination, and learn how to get them to latch and stay latched, which requires patience. It’s important to take the time needed to learn these things and not give up when things aren’t working right away. The Women’s Clinic is here to provide breastfeeding and lactation support for new mothers in Northern Colorado. Read on to learn more about different breastfeeding positions and tips to find the best option for you. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.

Find the Best Position for You

If you’re a new breastfeeding mama, it’s best to try several different feeding positions until you find one that is most comfortable for both you and your baby. There are countless different positions to try, and everyone will learn their own tricks along the way as they learn what is best for their baby. That being said, certain positions are better depending on how you delivered, when you delivered, and the age of your baby. Some of the most popular breastfeeding positions include:

  • The Cradle Hold: This is a classic breastfeeding position where you cradle your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. The baby should be lying on their side, directly facing you, with their head resting on the forearm on the same side as the breast they’re latching to. You can support their neck, spine, and bottom by extending the same forearm and hand down their back. In this position, the baby should be horizontal or at a slight angle, with their knees against your body or just below the opposite breast. This position is best for full-term babies who were delivered vaginally and may be best for older newborns, usually four to six weeks, as younger babies may have trouble latching.
  • The Crossover Hold: This position is a variation of the cradle hold, but the arms switch roles. In this position, you will use the opposite arm to cradle the baby. For example, if you’re feeding from the right breast, you’ll use your left hand to support the baby’s head and neck, while the right arm holds them up from under their back and bottom. This position is best for newborns, small babies, and infants who have trouble latching.
  • The Clutch or Football Hold: As the name implies, you hold your baby like you would a football or handbag in this position, with baby tucked under the arm of the same side you’re nursing from, and their feet extended out away from your body. You can then support your baby’s shoulders, neck, and hand with the same arm and hand. This position is an excellent choice for mothers of twins who are nursing both babies at once. It also works great for mothers who have had a c-section because it avoids putting pressure on their stitches.
  • The Side-Lying Position: This is a popular position when moms are at home with baby, as it allows them to both lie down and relax. Lie on your side in bed or on a couch with your baby facing you. You can prop yourself up with pillows or use your arm to support your head. Bring your baby close enough that they can reach the nipple comfortably without straining their head and without you bending toward them. This position is ideal if you’re recovering from a c-section or difficult delivery or if you’re nursing in the middle of the night.
  • The Koala Hold: In this position, you will hold your baby securely upright with their legs straddled over your leg and their head in line with the breast. Baby’s head will naturally lean back once they latch on, and you should be sure to support their head and keep one arm around their body until they can support themselves. Once you get the hang of this position, you can try using it while the baby is in a soft carrier for hands-free feeding. This position is excellent for babies with reflux as nursing upright can be better for digestion.
  • The Laid-Back Hold: Nursing in a reclined position can help stimulate feeding reflexes in both mothers and babies, making this an ideal position. In this position, you will lie back in a semi-reclined position with your head and shoulders supported. Then, lay your baby facedown on your stomach with their arms hugging your breast. Gravity will help to keep them in the best position and deepen the latch. This is a good option for mothers with sore nipples are babies who have difficulty latching. It’s also great for cuddling opportunities.
  • The Post-Cesarean Laid-Back Hold: This position is ideal for mothers who had a c-section, as it takes pressure off your incision site. It may look a little funny, but your baby will still be able to feed effectively. Start by finding a comfortable position where you can sit in a semi-reclined position. Lay your baby over your shoulder with feet away from you and their head facing your breast. Make sure you’re both comfortable and secure before guiding them to latch.
  • The Twin Hold: The twin hold is similar to the football hold, just with two babies nursing simultaneously. It may help to support the babies with a large pillow or cushion across your lap. It’s also helpful to have another person nearby to hand your babies to you once you’re ready. In this position, you’ll put one baby under each arm and use your arms and hands to support their backs and heads. This is ideal for nursing twins as it saves you time.

Positions to Avoid When Breastfeeding

It’s essential that both you and your baby are comfortable during breastfeeding. If your baby is not positioned properly, your breasts may not get adequate stimulation to produce more milk. Furthermore, the baby may be getting enough breast milk in the first place, which can cause them to be hungry more frequently and lead to problems in the future. To help you ensure optimal feeding, here are some things you should avoid while breastfeeding:

  • Hunching Over Your Baby: Many moms and babies face trouble latching because the mom is hunching over the baby and shoving her breast into the baby’s mouth. Rather than doing this, you should sit up straight and bring the baby to your breast.
  • Baby’s Body and Head Facing Different Directions: Your baby’s body should never face a different direction than their head. Therefore, if their head is facing your breast, so should their body, essentially laying on their side. If the head and body are facing different directions, it can make it hard for them to swallow.
  • Baby’s Body Being Too Far from the Breast: If the baby is too far from your breast, they will pull on your nipple while feeding. This can be painful for you and unsatisfying for the baby.

Tips for All Breastfeeding Mothers

No matter which position you use to feed your baby, there are some additional tips that can help make feeding time more comfortable and effective. The main thing to keep in mind when setting up for a feeding is support for both you and your baby. Once baby is latched, it can be difficult to move around, and you’ll be in the position for quite a while as the baby gets their fill of milk. For this reason, it’s important to ensure you and your baby are comfortable before beginning. To develop a successful feeding routine, be sure to:

  • Support your body by sitting in a comfortable chair with armrests and using pillows to support your back and arms. You should also support your feet with a footstool.
  • Support your breasts during feeding by using a C-hold (four fingers on one side of the breast with the thumb on the other side) or a V-hold (index and middle fingers spread on either side of the breast). This can make feeding more comfortable as your breasts are bigger and heavier during lactation.
  • Support your baby by using your arms, hands, and pillows to prop up their head, neck, back, and hips, keeping them in a straight line.
  • Change things up frequently by experimenting with new nursing positions to find the ones that work best for you. Varying your routine can help to avoid clogged milk ducts and sore nipples.

Attend a Breastfeeding Class for More Tips & Guidance

Though it’s a natural part of motherhood, breastfeeding isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a new mom. It is definitely a learning process, and many mothers find that they benefit from taking a class or consulting with a lactation specialist. At The Women’s Clinic, we host breastfeeding classes to help new mothers learn the best feeding positions, as well as other critical breastfeeding tips like how to latch and unlatch the baby and more. We’re here to support moms as they take on motherhood, helping them thrive in this new role.

Contact Our Clinic in Northern Colorado

The Women’s Clinic offers two convenient locations in Northern Colorado, one in Fort Collings and one in Loveland. We provide comprehensive care for women, including breastfeeding and lactation support. If you have any additional questions about breastfeeding or are curious about how to sign up for a class, please feel free to reach out to our team today. We can schedule you an appointment Lactation Consultant.  (970) 493-7442 ext. 3951.