It may take some time to figure out the most comfortable, effective breastfeeding position for you and your baby. What might work for one mom and baby may not work well for another. Do what feels good for both of you and whenever you can, breastfeed skin to skin. Some commonly used positions include laid-back, side-lying, football, cross-cradle and cradle.

LYING DOWN POSITIONS

Breastfeeding Laid Back Position

Laid-Back Position

This position is great after the birth of your baby and really anytime. Lean back with good neck, shoulder, arm and back support and your hips forward, like how you sit in a recliner chair. Place your baby’s belly on your belly with her head between your exposed breasts. When your calm, hungry baby feels your body against her chin, torso, legs, and feet, this triggers her feeding reflexes. When her chin touches your body, her mouth opens and she begins to search for the breast. Adjust her body position as needed, making sure she can breathe.

Babies can go to the breast from many angles. Your baby can lie belly down below your breast either straight or at an angle. After a cesarean birth, try other angles, so that your baby doesn’t rest on your healing incision.

Breastfeeding Side-Lying Position

Side-Lying Position

This is another relaxing position to try.

  1. Lie on your side facing your baby with one pillow under your head and one behind your back. Have a rolled-up towel or baby blanket within your reach.
  2. Put your baby on her side, facing you, with your nipple in line with her nose.
  3. Pull her feet and bottom in close. Lean back onto the pillow behind you until your nipple lifts off the bed to the level of your baby’s mouth.
  4. When your baby opens her mouth wide, she will quickly move towards the breast. At the same time gently press the palm of your hand between her shoulder blades to help her latch on deeply.
  5. Wedge the towel or blanket behind her back, leaving her head free to tilt back.
  6. Some mothers like their baby’s head resting on their arm. Others prefer their baby’s head on the bed.

UPRIGHT POSITIONS

You may also want to try sitting upright to feed. If so, find a seat with good back support. Place pillows behind your back and under your arms to help you relax while you breastfeed. Try a footstool for additional support. Have a rolled-up towel or baby blanket within your reach. Place the baby on top of the pillow at your side or in front of you (depending on which position you use) so that the baby is at breast level.

Breastfeeding Football Position

Football Position:

  1. Place a pillow at your side on the side you are going to breastfeed from. Lie your baby on top of the pillow, angled towards you. Her face should be near your breast with her feet back towards your back.
  2. The arm, on the same side as the breast you are going to feed her from, should be behind your baby supporting her. For example, your right arm if you are breastfeeding her from the right breast.
  3. Make a c-shape with your hand by spreading your thumb and forefinger apart. Support your baby’s neck/head in the web of your hand (between your thumb and forefinger) so that her head is tilted back a little. Her chin should never be touching her chest (this places her tongue and jaw in the wrong position for a good latch).
  4. Bring your baby in close to you.
  5. With the opposite hand, make a c-shape and gently support your breast, compressing it slightly, like you would if you were holding a sandwich. Make sure your fingers are parallel (in the same direction) to your baby’s lips. Keep your fingers off of the areola. This will help your baby get a deep latch.
  6. Point your nipple towards your baby’s nose. As your baby opens wide, use the palm of your hand to gently push between her shoulder blades and bring her in close. This movement will help her head to tilt back in the proper position to latch with her chin towards the breast and her nose slightly away from the breast.
  7. You may find it helpful to place a rolled-up towel or baby blanket under your wrist (holding the baby) for additional support.
Breastfeeding Cross-Cradle Position

Cross-Cradle Position:

  1. Place a pillow in front of you, in your lap and lie your baby sideways, facing you, on top of the pillow. Her ear, shoulders and hip should be touching the pillow, in a line.
  2. The arm, opposite from the side you are going to breastfeed on, should be behind the baby. For example, your left arm if you are breastfeeding her from the right breast.
  3. Make a c-shape with your hand by spreading your thumb and forefinger apart. Support your baby’s neck/head in the web of your hand (between your thumb and forefinger) so that her head is tilted back a little. Her chin should never be touching her chest (this places her tongue and jaw in the wrong position for a good latch).
  4. Bring your baby in close to you.
  5. With the opposite hand, make a c-shape and gently support your breast, compressing it slightly, like you would if you were holding a sandwich. Make sure your fingers are in the same direction as your baby’s lips. Keep your fingers off of the areola. This will help your baby get a deep latch.
  6. Point your nipple towards your baby’s nose. As your baby opens wide, use the palm of your hand to gently push between her shoulder blades and bring her in close. This movement will help her head to tilt back in the proper position to latch with her chin towards the breast and her nose slightly away from the breast.

Cradle Position:

(this position works well once you and your baby are breastfeeding well together)

  1. Place a pillow in front of you, in your lap and lie your baby sideways, facing you, on top of the pillow. Her ear, shoulders and hip should be touching the pillow, in a line.
  2. The arm, on the same side as the breast you are going to feed her from, should be behind your baby supporting her. For example, your right arm if you are breastfeeding her from the right breast.
  3. Her head/neck will be resting in your elbow. Her chin should never be touching her chest (this places her tongue and jaw in the wrong position for a good latch).
  4. Bring your baby in close to you.
  5. With the opposite hand, make a c-shape and gently support your breast, compressing it slightly, like you would if you were holding a sandwich. Make sure your fingers are in the same direction as your baby’s lips. Keep your fingers off of the areola. This will help your baby get a deep latch.
  6. Point your nipple towards your baby’s nose. As your baby opens wide, use the palm of your hand to gently push between her shoulder blades and bring her in close. This movement will help her head to tilt back in the proper position to latch with her chin towards the breast and her nose slightly away from the breast.

In all positions, check for the following:

  • Your baby’s head, shoulders, and hips are in line, not twisted or turned.
  • She is directly facing the breast, no head-turning needed.
  • Her body is pressed against yours, with feet, bottom, and shoulders pulled in close (no gaps).
  • Her head is free to tilt back a bit, and she comes to the breast chin first.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.