Breastfeeding positioning

What to Know

  • How to keep you and your baby comfortable during feedings
  • Learn 5 common breastfeeding positions

One of the best decisions you can make during the first 1,000 days of your baby’s life is to breastfeed (exclusively for at least her first 6 months is ideal), and finding the position(s) that work for both you and your baby is critical to breastfeeding success.

Mother breastfeeding her baby

And the most important thing to know about breastfeeding positions is that here is not one “right” position except for the one that works best for you and your baby as a pair, meaning, you are both comfortable and safe and your positioning allows for baby to latch well, suck well and feed adequately. Hopefully you’ll find at least one such position for when you’re sitting and at least one for when you’re reclining and when lying down.

Practice is part of the discovery process in finding the position that work best. Here are the 5 most common breastfeeding positions:

  • Cradle – your baby is positioned belly-to-belly in front of you, supported on one arm and latched onto the breast on that same side
  • Cross Cradle – your baby is positioned belly-to-belly in front of you, supported on one arm opposite to the breast (if left arm supporting, baby latches to right breast)
  • Football – your baby is wrapped along your side with her head at your breast and feet behind your back (think of holding your baby like a football player running with the ball)
  • Side-Lying – both you and your baby lay on your sides facing each other with your baby slightly below your breast so she must tilt her head back while you hug her in to latch on
  • Laid-Back – using pillows for support, you recline at a 45 degree angle with your baby’s head between your breasts allowing her to latch to either side

These positions are simply suggestions intended to support your experimentation. And if your baby likes a cross cradle position on the right and a football position on the left, that’s fine! If you and baby are both comfortable, baby is transferring milk efficiently and effectively and satisfied after feeds, that’s all that matters.

What to Do

Chat with a Happy Family Coach.

One of our Lactation Consultants can help you figure out the best position for you and your baby

Reevaluate your position if you’re experiencing discomfort

If you feel pinching (as opposed to comfortable tugging or pulling), try a new position. You may also want to re-evaluate the latch (read Breastfeeding Basics 101: Learning an effective latch for details). Keep experimenting until you find something that works for you and your baby.

Practice makes perfect for both of you. Try positions again in a few days and also in few weeks. What was once uncomfortable for you or your baby may end up being a preferred position as your baby matures.

Hug your baby into you

Bring your baby to your breast and belly rather than bringing your breast to baby by hunching over. Keep in mind that you should be able to stay in this position comfortably for 20-45 minutes (the length of a feed), so don’t begin in a place that you can’t sustain or strains your shoulders, back and neck.

Bringing the baby to you will not only be more comfortable, but it also helps to improve where your nipple should be to achieve a successful latch.

Use pillows for support as needed

Pile as many pillows as you need to bring your baby level to your breast: in your lap to support the baby, behind you to support your back or at your side to support your forearm and wrist.

Do be sure that no pillows will interfere with your baby’s breathing should you both drift off to sleep.

Pay attention to your baby’s cues

If your baby fusses when you turn her a particular way, she may be uncomfortable in that position. Keep experimenting until you both feel comfy and satisfied.

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