Breastfeeding Positions And What You Need To Know

a mom holding her baby on her chest

Did you know that more moms than ever before are deciding to breastfeed their children from infancy? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight out of every 10 mothers choose to breastfeed at birth.

Breastfeeding isn’t just good for your baby’s nutrition and health – it can also provide a special bonding experience between mom and infant. Many new moms believe that breastfeeding will simply come naturally, and sometimes it does. However, it’s helpful to know a few things, including the best positions for you and your baby.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common and most comfortable positions for breastfeeding, what makes them work and when they are most ideal to use.

“Breastfeeding can provide a special bonding experience between mom and infant.”

Cradle

The cradle is a common position that has baby lengthwise across Mom’s abdomen, using the elbow to support baby’s head. The Texas Department of State Health Services recommended using a pillow in your lap and then placing baby on his side with his nose in front of the nipple, and his lower arm tucked under the breast. The cradle can also be modified for twins, where Mom holds both babies in her lap, supporting their heads with her elbows.

Parents Magazine noted that this hold is best for older babies who are able to easily latch, however, some women have found success and comfort using this position for nursing infants.

Crossover

The crossover, or cross-cradle, is similar to the cradle, but Mom uses her hand, as opposed the crook of her elbow, to support baby’s head, and uses her other hand to position for latching and supporting the breast. If nursing from the right breast, for example, the left arm and hand will come around the back of baby for support, with the right fingers holding the breast.

The crossover is easiest using a pillow for support, which helps make sure that baby’s mouth is at nipple level. This position is one of the best for babies that have trouble latching or need extra positioning. The crossover allows Mom to use her thumb and index finger at baby’s ear level to hold and control his head and make sure he latches on appropriately.

Football

The football position will have Mom put a pillow to her side for support and place baby on top of the pillow with baby’s legs positioned under her arm. Mom will move her forearm underneath baby’s back and neck, using her hand to support baby’s head. Mom can use her hand to help guide baby and help him latch.

This position is one of the easiest for moms new to breastfeeding and more comfortable for moms who’ve had cesarean sections, as baby isn’t positioned tummy-to-tummy. Many moms also prefer this position for larger babies, who may be more comfortable under Mom’s arm, supported by a pillow.

Similar to the cradle, this is another position that’s also helpful for moms of twins.

Laid back

In the laid back position, Mom will sit back or recline to about a 45-degree angle, and place baby on her chest. Using a pillow to support Mom’s head and neck can make this position more comfortable.

This is another hold that can be used with twins. It’s also best for older babies who can better hold up their heads. Mom can also let baby crawl and self-attach to the breast in this position.

Lying down

This is a horizontal position that has Mom lay on her side in a fetal-like position with bent knees for support. Pillows can also be helpful in this position, including between Mom’s legs, behind her head and neck or behind the back. Baby is situated on his side, with his head facing the nipple. Mom uses her other arm to support baby – another pillow or a rolled-up blanket can work here too.

This is one of the most comfortable positions and can be best for new moms, especially those who have had a difficult delivery. Lying down is also good for night-time feedings. Parents Magazine recommends making sure that baby can appropriately latch before trying this position.

Mom breastfeeding babyFind a breastfeeding position that works well for you and baby.

Other breastfeeding tips: Make sure you’re comfortable

No matter what position you choose to use, it’s important to put yourself in a comfortable place for nursing and breastfeeding. Many moms like to sit in a rocking, gliding or easy chair with armrests, but some positions might be easiest in bed.

Make sure you have plenty of pillows handy, for you and your baby. A footstool or ottoman can also be helpful to make sure you’re in a relaxed position.

Some women may experience problems with latching, but don’t worry, it’s very common and there are a few tried-and-true solutions you can try.

Breastfeeding is an important time in your and your baby’s lives. Be sure to take time to enjoy the connection and bonding experience.