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7 Ultimate Breastfeeding Positions

Learning I was pregnant was such an exciting time. However, imagining how I was going to nurse my baby and what breastfeeding positions to use was totally overwhelming. After much research and following all of the moms’ groups I could, I knew I wanted to learn as many breastfeeding positions as I could before leaving the hospital. I had purchased all the gadgets; pumps, bottles, pump parts, nipple creams, and the popular baby buddy nursing pillow. Nevertheless, I still wasn’t even close to realizing what I was getting myself into. Did you know there are 7 ultimate Breastfeeding Positions? So I want to share them with you.

The hospital staff were amazing and the lactation consultants couldn’t have been a bigger help. So what was the problem? When I exited those hospital doors, all of my resources stayed behind. My husband, myself, and our baby were on our own. I no longer had an electric bed, an oversized recliner, or two more sets of hands. Also, I was left fighting with pillows for back support to find comfortable breastfeeding positions for both baby and me to nurse and achieve the most effective latch. 

As every mama can attest to, each and every baby is unique and usually nothing like the previous! Right when you think you’ve got breastfeeding nailed down, your next baby comes along and throws you a curve ball.  Whether you are having one baby or multiples, here are 7 breastfeeding positions to try to help you nurse more comfortably. 

Key principles of breastfeeding

Remember some key principles before trying to latch your baby:  Position baby belly to belly and nose to nipple; Bring your baby to the breast not the other way around; Babies feed best when they are calm and alert; if baby is fussy, hit the “reset” by putting them skin to skin until calm. A fussy baby will not latch!

Cross-cradle and football positions are often the easiest to attempt when learning how to breastfeed — they give you the most control of your breast, as well as the positioning of your child at the breast to achieve a deep latch.

Try these breastfeeding positions

(1) Cross-cradle hold

  • As the name implies, cradle baby on your forearm using the opposite arm as the breast your child is feeding on.
  • Your free hand will make a breast sandwich to aid baby in a deep latch (make sure your fingers are not too close to your areola!).
  • Once baby is latched, perform breast compressions or rest.

(2) Football hold 

  • Make sure you have firm back support or a nursing pillow to help support baby (holding them can lead to shoulder and wrist strain for you mamas!).
  • Lay back slightly so you are bent at your hips and still upright.
  • Football hold allows you a great view of baby while they nurse, and gives them more control over the feed.
  • This is an excellent position for women with large breasts, flat nipples, or a sore incision from a caesarian birth. The football hold is also effective if mom has oversupply or a fast let down.

(3) Cradle hold

  • Mom is holding baby on the arm of the breast they are latching to and using the opposite hand to control her breast. It is important that your child’s head is not too deep into the crook of your elbow.

  • We suggest saving this position for a few weeks postpartum — once you and baby are feeling confident in latching deeply every time you nurse.

(4) Side-lying position 

  • Lay down on your side. Place baby facing you — they should still be positioned belly to belly with you and lined up nose to nipple.
  • Roll a blanket (or use your breastfeeding pillow) to place behind your child’s back and keep them on their side, or wrap your arm around them while feeding.
  • Placing a facecloth under the breast can help lift the nipple to the appropriate level for your child to effectively latch.
  • This position is awesome for latching issues and night-time feeds. 

If you have twins, these positions are terrific

(5) Laid back

  • Lay on your back with or without pillows. Do not place pillows under baby unless needed for larger breasts or body frame.
  • Baby will come across your shoulder with their feet facing away from you to latch onto the breast closest to that shoulder. 
  • Great for post-c-section, multiples and strong letdowns.

(6) Upright 

  • Sit anywhere you are comfortable with or without back support.
  • Place baby facing you and straddling the same leg as the breast they will be nursing from. If nursing two babies, place the other baby on the opposite leg to nurse from the opposite breast.
  • Make sure they are still belly-to-belly with you. For older infants with more neck control, they may move their heads about to look around and this is okay.
  • If nursing a newborn in this position, just be sure to provide a lot of shoulder support with your hand or bend of your elbow. 
  • Good for babies with hip dysplasia. 

(7) Sling nurse

  • Place baby or babies in a sling facing you or on your hip.
  • Make sure baby is at the right height to nurse. Their nose should be at your nipple line.
  • Expose breast on the same side as baby. Nursing-friendly tops and bras work great for this because you don’t have to pull your whole shirt up under the sling.
  • Support baby’s shoulder either with your hand or the sling, while making sure the sling is not too tight on baby’s head. 
  • Good for one or two babies.

BONUS

(8) Laid back breast crawl

  • From the moment babies are born they have the instinct to nurse. If you were to place a newborn on a bare mother’s chest they would use their arms and legs to inch toward one breast to nurse. This position is just that.
  • Lay back in a semi-reclined position with good back support and place baby’s chest down on your chest. Support your baby’s back and hips and watch what happens! Your baby will make their way to your nipple.

Last Thoughts

If you are pregnant and want to learn more about breastfeeding, we have an excellent Prenatal Breastfeeding Workshop to set you up for success.  We also have an Antenatal Hand Expression Workshop if you are interested in collecting colostrum prior to your baby’s arrival. 

If your baby is already here and you are struggling with breastfeeding, please reach out!  One of our nurses would be so happy to support you on your feeding journey!

Remember mamas, you are doing better than you think and are exactly what your baby needs!  Sending so much love and support, Carrie ❤️

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The Mama Coach is a global team of Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners.

Our mission is to guide families through every stage of their parenting journey by providing evidence-informed education infused with non-judgmental support, compassion, and empathy.

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