Breast Feeding Positions | Natural Birth and Baby Care.com

Breast Feeding Positions

There are many different breast feeding positions to choose from. Read through the directions on this page. Then pick the position that's the best fit for you and your baby. Experiment with other positions as your confidence increases!

Mom and baby in one of the side-lying breast feeding positions

Getting Comfy

You want to relax as you nurse your baby because you'll nursing a lot! Have pillows to prop yourself and baby up at a comfortable height. I highly recommend a nursing pillow, but any and all pillows are helpful. You may also want a stool under your feet.

Sitting up? Choose a chair that has a firm back to it. This is helpful while you are learning to breast feed. If you're using a soft, cushy chair have pillows close by to put behind your back or shoulders. If you're going to try a “laid-back” position, settle on the couch or in a recliner with pillows to support your body.

If you have large breasts and find yourself getting tired of supporting your breast through the entire nursing session, try a rolled up blanket or cloth diaper under your breast for support.

Have water nearby. A snack, or a small cooler of snacks, is a good idea to have in arm's reach. A book, magazine, your phone, or tablet is nice to read once you get baby nursing comfortably (or just watch your sweet baby ;))

Positioning Basics

Remember to bring your baby to your body. When you're “latching your baby on,” pull you baby towards your body as opposed to leaning over to her.

Have baby facing you, so that her tummy is towards your body. Make sure that your baby's ear, shoulder, and hip are in line. You don't want your baby's head turned towards you but her body flopping over!

Turn your head and swallow, and you'll see why this makes nursing harder for her. As she gets older and the two of you become nursing pros, you won't have to be so careful of positioning.

The Cradle Hold

mother nursing her baby in the cradle hold

Me nursing my first baby, Cassidy, in a cradle hold!

This is often the position that first comes to mind when you picture yourself breastfeeding your baby. Your baby's head is on your forearm with her body resting along your arm.

Position her with her head tilted a bit so that she goes onto the breast chin first. You can put her bottom arm wherever it feels comfortable for you – some moms like it under the baby, and some moms like it around their side.

Notice in the cradle hold photo how well-positioned the baby is. That's my first baby, and she made positioning easy. See how her ear, shoulder, and hips line up? No part of her body is flopped to the side; she's completely facing me.

As I said above, this is important for breast feeding your young baby. It becomes less important in later months, but try to makes sure your baby is completely facing you in the early weeks – it's hard for your baby to swallow if he or she is flopped over!

The Football Hold

This position is sometimes called the “clutch hold.” The baby is facing you and her body is tucked along your side – much like an American football is held.

Her back is along your forearm and your hand is spread supporting her neck. Use pillows or a nursing pillow to bring your baby up to a comfortable height for breast feeding.

Be sure your baby doesn't have to arch her neck to drink. Bend her legs up against the chair back if you need to move her further back.

After you latch baby on lean back and relax. If your arm gets tired use pillows or rolled blankets to give yourself additional support. This is a good position to use after a c-section because the baby isn't over your incision.

Cross-Cradle Hold

The Cross-Cradle is much like the Cradle Hold with a Football Hold support for the baby. You hold your baby with her head towards your hand.

Have your hand supporting her upper back and your fingers spread across her neck. Your thumb will be behind one ear and your fingers behind the other. Don't push on her head; this may cause an arching reflex.

Baby faces you in the front just like the cradle hold, but you're supporting her body as you do in the football hold. This hold is good if you're having trouble with latch-on. It gives you a good view of the baby and some extra control. It is also a good hold for very small babies.

As with the other holds, use pillows to support yourself and to bring the baby to a comfortable level. Use pillows or rolled blankets to support your arm if you find it getting tired. A nursing pillow may be really helpful.

Once your baby is latched on and nursing well, you can slip your other arm around your baby and switch to the cradle hold. Some moms find breast feeding more comfortable this way.

Lying Down

Lie down on your side. Position pillows around you for good support. Some moms like to have a pillow between their knees – you may have done this while you were pregnant, too! A firm pillow (or your partner!) behind your back can be very helpful.

mother nursing her baby lying down

Learning to nurse while lying down can help both you and baby get the rest you need!

Pull your baby in close to you, facing you. She should be cuddled up right against your body, with her head at breast level. If you had a c-section, you may want to put a small pillow or rolled blanket over your incision to protect it from kicks. You can also roll a receiving blanket up behind your baby to keep her facing you.

You can latch baby on in this position and both of you can get some needed rest! You can lean forward and offer baby both breasts on one side, if you feel comfortable doing that. Or you can put baby on your check and roll to your other side, then reposition her on that side. It depends on what you are comfortable with.

What Works

Choose what works for you as you breastfeed your baby. You'll find some positions come more easily than others. You may never use some of the positions or you may use all of them at different times in your nursing relationship. Enjoy the time that you have nursing your baby, and use the position that works the best for the two (or three, or more!) of you 🙂

Want step-by-step tips and natural techniques for nursing your baby? Click Here for our 7 Steps to a Great Latch quick-reference guide and our How to Boost Milk Supply Naturally report (plus get our email mini-course on natural baby health, conscious parenting, and enjoying motherhood!). Opens in a new tab.

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Photo by Mothering Touch