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Breastfeeding Positions

March 26, 2010

Many new mothers who are trying to breastfeed for the first time will tell you that it can be a very awkward experience. You hold your new baby in your arms, expect things to go on automatically, and then are at a loss when baby doesn’t start to suck the way you see other babies sucking in pictures or in movies. How exactly should you hold your child and how do you make sure he/she is extracting that precious colostrum from your breasts?

Learning how to hold your baby so that you are both comfortable and he/she is able to latch on to your breast without difficulty is a crucial first step. There are different positions a new mother can use when learning to breastfeed. Finding the right position for you and your baby can make breastfeeding easier and more successful.

No matter what position you choose, make sure:

  1. You are seated properly, preferably in a chair with armrests, and use as many pillows as you need to make yourself feel comfortable.
  2. You don’t lean over or bend forward to bring your breast to the baby. Instead, raise your baby and turn him/her as needed to bring him/her closer to your breast.
  3. You always keep your baby’s head and neck aligned with his/her trunk. Instead of turning your baby’s head to your breast, turn your baby’s entire body to face you.
  4. You assist your baby in latching on by squeezing your breast/areola to get more into his/her mouth but do not push on your baby’s head to bring it to the breast. This will only make the baby push back against you and will make feeding unpleasant for you both.

CROSS CRADLE HOLD. This is probably the most popular position for mothers who are just learning how to breastfeed. Sit upright in a chair and make sure you are comfortable. If you are feeding from the left breast, hold your baby with your right arm. Support his back with your right forearm and his neck with your right hand. Turn him so that his tummy is touching your tummy and/or his chest is touching your chest. Use your left hand to guide your breast into your baby’s mouth.

To switch to the opposite breast, transfer your baby to your left arm and use your right arm to support your right breast as needed.

CRADLE HOLD. This is similar to the cross-cradle hold but the arm you use to support your baby is on the same side as the breast you are feeding on. To nurse on the left breast, hold your baby in the crook of your left elbow, supporting his trunk with your left forearm. You can cradle your baby’s lower body closer with the help of your right arm. As in the cross-cradle hold, make sure you are seated comfortably. Do not stoop or bend to accommodate your baby. Instead, bring baby up to your breast, using pillows on your lap if necessary. Again, as in the other positions, make sure baby’s entire trunk is turned towards your breast as well.

FOOTBALL HOLD. This position may seem awkward at first, but it works well for mothers who are recovering from a Cesarean section, those who have large breasts, those with flat nipples, and those who are feeding more than 1 baby at a time.

Make sure you are seated comfortably in bed or in a wide chair with low armrests. To feed on your left breast, hold your baby at your left side with your left arm. Your elbow should be bent (like you are holding a football). Your baby’s back is on your left forearm and your left hand supports his/her neck. You can use your right hand to support your left breast if needed. A pillow on your side can help support your baby’s body as well.

SIDE-LYING. This is a good position for mothers who are tired, are recovering from a Cesarean birth, or for some other reason are unable to sit up. It is also a great position for nighttime feeding.

To feed on your left breast, lie on your left side. Your baby should be lying on his right side facing you. With your left arm, bring baby closer to your breast. Use your right hand to guide your breast into your baby’s mouth. Once your baby is latched on properly, use your left hand to support your head and your right hand to keep your baby close. To feed on your right breast, lie on your right side.

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