The 5 comfiest breastfeeding positions
For the new mums out there, breastfeeding can be quite the challenge, no matter how easy the glamourous #InstaMums make it seem. Although there’s no real right or wrong way to breastfeed, finding a routine and position that suits both you and your bub will lead to a happier life for everyone.
During those first few weeks after birth, many mums find themselves in a sea of guesswork – between the lack of sleep and adjusting to life as a parent, it’s hard to gauge whether your newborn has had their fill when their feeding, even if they fall into that sweet milk coma.
But like everything, feeding is a technique that comes with practice – from getting bub to latch, to working out when they’re done eating, to what position is comfiest. What suits one bub might be completely different for another child – even within the one family. Eventually, you’ll get settled into a routine that’s perfect both for yourself and your baby.
So, what are the most common breastfeeding positions? Here’s the top five, but there’s many more you can choose from.
This is probably the most common position to choose when feeding your baby, because it’s a) comfortable and b) gives you a chance to really bond with your child. Start off by lying down on a couch or bed in a semi-reclined position. Take your little one and place them over your belly, so that their tummy is touching yours.
Keeping bub close to your body, hold their head from behind with one hand, and use your other arm to support baby’s body – very much like a natural cradle-position. With so much physical touch between the two of you, it makes it very easy for your baby to latch, with just a little bit of your help.
Baby gets lots of space and support to not only find the breast themselves,it also gives them the ability to enjoy their meal. This helps them become more empowered and confident, and it’s a great position for bubs with issues latching. With enough patience, your baby will find your nipple by themselves, though if they’re a little younger, you may need to hold their head and body to help them out a little.
Are you one of the many mums concerned that your child isn’t really interested in breastfeeding? Try giving this position a shot, as it can help resolve such breastfeeding issues in babies.
A lot of mothers find feeding their babies in a sitting position quite tiring, as younger babies tend to feed slowly and take a little longer. Mums can also feel a little anxious about holding their feeding babies in their arms – so this supported position is a perfect fit.
Baby’s cross-cradle position
Make yourself comfortable by sitting on couch or bed with a back support, like a special-made nursing pillow. If in doubt, a U-shaped pillow also works well. It’s also a handy idea to find some support for your feet, like a small stool, just to keep your legs raised slightly.
Give your baby your left breast and support your breast with your left hand. At the same time, support your bub’s body with your right arm as they suckle happily.
This isn’t a common position, though it’s taught to many first-time mums in hospitals.New mothers usually find it easy to learn, and it makes it much easier – not to mention interesting – to watch your baby as they feed.
The cross-cradle position is best for slightly older babies, as newborns are a little harder to keep a hold of while you’re nursing. This position also allows your child to have a better grip on your nipple, allowing for a better feed.
If your arms tire easily – not hard, especially once bub’s thriving and starts getting those cute chubby legs! – you can also try using your nursing pillow to support your baby’s body, rather than your arms. Some mums love this position, as it’s a wonderful time to touch, stroke and massage bub while they’re nursing. If you’re out and about in public, you’re most likely going to end up using this position.
Baby’s cradle position
Quite a few mums find this cradle position incredibly comfy. Keeping bub’s head – as the name suggests – cradled against the nook of your arm, make sure your belly is touching their belly. Try to place baby’s nose against your nipple. Your other hand must be kept under your baby’s bottom, to help them get the best grip.
Some mums find it quite difficult to keep their baby held in this position for long enough to get a complete feed; others may find it painful as older bubs, with a little weight and strength behind them, start to nip and pull your nipple towards them.
Baby side-lying position
Lie down on your bed, and lay bub next to you, so that you’re facing each other. While supporting bub’s head and body, bring them closer to your breast until they’re able to latch.
You can use this position with older bubs, especially at night – it’s fantastic when you’re feeling sleepy, but your child is hungry. Your baby will eventually fall asleep and you can actually take a few moments to sit down and rest while you’re nursing. Your baby will lose the grip of your nipple once they’ve passed out.
Babies feel very safe and secure in this position, wrapped up in the warmth of your arms – it’s a beautiful way to bond.
Baby’s football hold
Hold bub up high, in a vertical position parallel to your breast. With one hand, bring your child’s head closer to your chest so that they can latch, and support them until they’ve finished feeding. You can also try propping a pillow or two underneath your baby or under your leg, to help you hold your baby for longer.
For some, the football hold – which has you holding your baby away from you – can be a little difficult to get used to, as bub gets quite heavy after a while, and you’ll be forced to change to another position, disrupting the feeding process.
Other mums also think that their bubs may not be able to latch properly in this position, and so are unable to feed well; or their face is being smooshed against their mother’s chests, which can’t be comfortable.
However, this position works well if you hold your baby’s shoulders and neck, rather than holding the back of their head. Some lactation experts suggest this to be a great position for mothers with large breasts, as it’s easier and much more comfortable on their backs.
Feed baby when they’re actually hungry, and try to follow a proper feeding schedule. It helps if you keep track of feeds, which prevents you from over feeding your baby or leaving them starving. As your baby ages and develops their personality, you’ll be able to identify clues and work out whether your baby is hungry or not.
Be careful that your baby is not being pushed hard against your breast, as this will cause them to have difficulty breathing. Do not fall asleep while nursing, either, as you may choke or suffocate them by accident.
Your baby will start to suck as soon as they find the right spot to latch on. You will get to know what your baby finds comfortable, and once they’ve had their fill, they will most probably fall asleep.
Insert a finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to open their jaw, which will release your nipple from their grip.
If you feel pain or get bruises etc. while feeding, this may mean your baby is unable to attach properly. This could also mean that they are not taking their feed well. If in doubt, consult with your paediatrician.