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Breastfeeding Positions – Finding What Works For You!

When it comes to finding the right breastfeeding positions for you and your baby, only you will know what feels most comfortable.

Endorsed by Lara Taylor, Specialised Midwife.

When it comes to finding the right breastfeeding positions for you and your baby, only you will know what feels most comfortable. What works for one mum and their baby, may not feel right to another!  So, we’re here to help you find what works for you, by taking you through our top tips for nursing comfortably and the different breastfeeding positions you can try.

Why Is Positioning So Important When It Comes To Breastfeeding?

Finding a breastfeeding position that works for you and your baby is vital, not only to make it a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, but to help your baby feed effectively.

To begin with it might feel like a game of trial and error, but that’s ok – it’s good to experiment and you'll soon work out which positions suit you both best. Some mums and babies may find there are actually two or three positions that work for them, whereas others may prefer to stick with just one. Remember, we’re all different so do what works for you.

Positioning goes hand-in-hand with attachment and so finding a comfortable breastfeeding position and understanding the reassuring signs to look for, will help your baby achieve a good, deep latch.

What Should I Look For When I Come To Position My Baby At The Breast?

When breastfeeding, it's crucial to prioritise both your comfort and your baby's attachment to ensure a successful feeding experience. Here are some key tips to help you and your baby achieve the best positioning and attachment during breastfeeding:

Natural Breast Positioning

Let Your Breast Sit Naturally:

  • Allow your breast to sit in its natural position without holding or lifting it.
  • Bringing your baby to your breast, rather than bringing your breast to your baby, helps maintain a consistent and effective latch.

Avoid Holding the Breast:

  • Holding or lifting your breast can affect the attachment when you let go, causing your baby to come off the breast or leading to a compromised latch.
  • Ensure that your breast stays in its natural position to promote a stable attachment.

Positioning for Comfort

Bring Baby to Breast, Not Breast to Baby:

  • Position your baby so that they are level with your breast. This reduces the need for you to lean in or hunch over, which can be uncomfortable and strain your back.
  • Use pillows or a breastfeeding cushion to support your baby at the right height and angle.

Comfortable Seating:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair with good back support to maintain a relaxed posture.
  • Use armrests or additional pillows to support your arms and prevent strain.

Proper Latch and Attachment

Optimal Latch:

  • Encourage a wide gape from your baby before latching by gently tickling their upper lip with your nipple.
  • Aim for your baby to take a large portion of the areola (the darker area around the nipple) into their mouth, not just the nipple itself. This deeper latch helps ensure effective milk transfer and reduces nipple discomfort.

Support Your Baby's Head and Body:

  • Hold your baby close to you, ensuring their head, neck, and body are aligned. This alignment helps facilitate a proper latch.
  • Support your baby’s neck and shoulders with your hand, but let their head tilt back slightly so their chin leads into the breast.

Maintaining a Healthy Attachment

Monitor the Latch:

  • Listen for rhythmic sucking and swallowing sounds, indicating a good latch and milk transfer.
  • Watch for signs of discomfort in your baby, such as fussiness or slipping off the breast, and adjust as needed.
  • Ensure the tongue and bottom lip are attached below the nipple, with the chin deep into the breast and the nose clear so they can breathe easily. If you must move your breast back for baby to breathe, then reattach or move baby’s body down slightly so their head tilts back and their nose becomes free.
  • Check that their cheeks are full and round when feeding, that you feel a strong, drawing sensation and their sucks are slow and long with a swallow every 2 to 3 sucks.

Avoid Leaning In:

  • Leaning in towards your baby can be uncomfortable and put unnecessary pressure on your back.
  • Ensure you are sitting upright and use your arm and hand to bring your baby to your breast, keeping your back straight and supported.

Practical Tips for Success

Frequent Burping: During and after feeding, burp your baby to release any swallowed air, which can help reduce fussiness and discomfort.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet to support your milk supply and overall health.

Seek Support: If you experience ongoing difficulties with latching or attachment, consider consulting a lactation consultant for personalised guidance and support.

By focusing on these tips, you can enhance your breastfeeding experience, promoting both your comfort and your baby's effective feeding.

What Are The Most Common Breastfeeding Positions?

There are many breastfeeding positions, and you may even find your own unique position, but the most common are:

  • Cradle hold
  • Cross Cradle hold
  • Laid-back position or biological nurturing
  • Rugby hold
  • Side-lying position

The Cradle Hold

The cradle hold is probably the most widely used breastfeeding position. In this position your baby lies across your body with its head resting in the crook of your arm, on the same side as you are nursing. The cradle hold is great for when you are out and about with your baby and is also ideal for older babies who latch on easily and have good control over their head movements.

How to do it:

  1. Lie your baby across your lap facing you, making sure that your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line.
  2. Place your baby’s head on your arm with your hand supporting their body, ensuring they can tilt their head back.
  3. Hold your baby close, align your baby's nose with your nipple and bring them close to latch.
  4. Your baby’s lower arm should be under your supporting arm.

LL UK Maternity Latching Holds Illustrations 01

The Cross-Cradle Hold

The cross-cradle breastfeeding position is similar to the cradle hold but gives the most support to your baby and enables you to see your breast and baby’s mouth easily. This position can be a helpful one to try in the early days of breastfeeding, when your new baby is learning to latch, if you have a small baby or if their suck isn’t too strong. It allows your one arm free to support your breast and help your baby to latch on.

How to do it:

  1. Lie your baby across your lap facing you, making sure that your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line.
  2. Use the arm opposite to the nursing breast to hold your baby, with their bottom in the crook of your arm. So, if nursing from the right breast, use your left arm.
  3. Support your baby’s head with your thumb and forefinger behind the ears.
  4. Use your other hand to support your breast if needed. Hold it in a C shape just outside the areola, gently squeezing together to make the area compact.
  5. Align your baby's nose with your nipple and bring them close to latch.

LL UK Maternity Latching Holds Illustrations 04

The Laid-Back Hold Or Biological Nurturing

The laid-back breastfeeding position is relaxed and comfortable, encouraging your baby’s natural reflexes to move towards the breast and find the nipple. Your baby simply lies tummy to tummy, skin to skin Is best, with you in a feeding-ready position. This position often encourages your baby’s rooting reflex, which is when baby turns their head, and opens their mouth instinctively to feed, so is great for newborn babies, twins and babies that struggle to latch…and new mums too!

How to do it:

  1. Lie back on a sofa or bed in a way that is comfortable for you.
  2. Use a cushion or pillow to support your back and place another pillow under your knees.
  3. Lie your baby on their front, tummy to tummy with you, so your body is completing supporting them.
  4. Some babies will find their way to the nipple, but you may want to help get them into position and help with the latch. Remember nose to nipple.

LL UK Maternity Latching Holds Illustrations 05

The Rugby Hold

In this nursing position, your baby's body should be tucked under your arm like a rugby ball, with your baby’s legs and feet extending behind your back. The rugby hold is also ideal if you’re recovering from a C-section, have larger breasts or have inverted nipples. If you have twins, the rugby hold position is extremely useful as it allows you to feed both babies at the same time (amazing!)

How to do it:

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with a cushion or pillow along the side you will be feeding from.
  2. Tuck your baby under your arm on the same side as the nursing breast, like holding a rugby ball. Your baby’s legs should point towards the back of the chair.
  3. Support your baby's head with your hand, ensuring they are facing towards your breast, checking their ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line.
  4. Use your other hand to support your breast.

LL UK Maternity Latching Holds Illustrations 03

The Side Lying Hold

Ideal for nighttime feeds or when you need to rest while breastfeeding, this position involves lying down on your side with your baby facing you. This position may also be more comfortable if you are recovering from a C-section or an episiotomy and will be relaxing for you both.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your side with pillows supporting your back, head, and legs if you feel you need them.
  2. Position your baby facing you, tummy to tummy, along the bed, making sure their nose Is in line with the nipple.
  3. Pull your baby in towards you with your upper arm helping to lead them to your breast.
  4. Move the hand closest to the bed to either support your head, cradle your baby, or use it to support your breast and assist with the latch…whatever feels most comfortable.

LL UK Maternity Latching Holds Illustrations 02

Whilst these are some of the most common breastfeeding positions, it's essential to find what feels right for you and your baby.

Experimenting with different positions can be key but if you do find that feeding is painful, their sucks are short and they seem restless coming off the breast regularly, seek guidance from your midwife, breastfeeding counsellors, lactation consultants or experienced breastfeeding mums. Support can be invaluable.

Don’t forget, learning to breastfeed takes time, and with patience and practice you'll soon discover the best way to breastfeed, for you and your baby...and hopefully you'll really enjoy the experience.

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How to get a good latch when breastfeeding

Frequently Asked Questions On Getting A Good Latch

What is a proper latch and why is it important?

A proper latch is when your baby takes a large portion of your breast into their mouth, not just the nipple. This helps ensure that your baby is able to effectively draw out milk and minimizes pain and discomfort for you.

Can flat or inverted nipples affect latching?

Flat or inverted nipples can make latching more challenging, but many babies can still latch with some assistance. Techniques that may help include:

  • Stimulating the nipple to make it more erect before feeding.
  • Using a breast pump or nipple shield to draw out the nipple.
  • Working with a lactation consultant for specialized techniques and support

Is it normal for my baby to fuss or pull away during latching?

Yes, babies may fuss or pull away for various reasons, including:

  • Needing to burp.
  • Discomfort or gas.
  • Fast or slow milk flow.
  • Seeking a better position. Try burping your baby, adjusting your hold, or allowing a brief break before attempting to latch again.

If you continue to experience difficulties with latching, consider reaching out to a lactation consultant or healthcare provider for personalized support and guidance.


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