Learn about different breastfeeding positions and how to make sure that your baby has latched on properly.
Get comfortable and choose a breastfeeding position. First and foremost, make yourself comfortable. Find a comfortable seat with proper support, such as an upright chair with arms, and choose a position that works well for you.
The Alternate Arm Cradle Hold
Support your baby's shoulders with the heel of your hand. The hand that holds the breast is on the same side the baby is nursing. This position works well if you are learning to breastfeed.
The Football Hold
Sit down in a chair or prop yourself up in bed. Place a pillow on your nursing side to support your elbow and your baby's bottom. With your baby resting on the pillow and facing you, support her neck and upper back with one hand. Use your other hand to support your breast. This position works well if you are learning to breastfeed, if you have a small baby, if you have large breasts, if you had a Caesarean birth or are nursing both twins at the same time.
The Cradle Hold
Cradle your baby in one arm with her head resting in the bend of your elbow. Your baby's mouth is at your breast, and the two of you are facing each other. You can use this position while sitting up in bed or in a chair, with pillows for support. This position works well after you are comfortable with breastfeeding.
The Side-Lying Hold
In this hold, you and your baby will face each other while lying on your sides in bed. Support your baby and maintain his side-lying position by placing a rolled-up towel behind him. Support yourself with a pillow behind your back. This position works well if you find it too painful to sit, if you want to rest when you breastfeed or if you had a Caesarean birth.
Comfort is Key
It is extremely important to ensure your baby's comfort while feeding. Otherwise, she may not nurse long enough to receive her essential nutrients for development. Check to see that her upper ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line.
The "C" Hold
To help your baby achieve a deep latch, hold your breast with a "C" hold. Put your thumb above the breast and your four fingers underneath for support. Make sure your fingers are positioned away from the areola, so your breast can go far into your baby's mouth.
Help your baby to "latch on"
"Latching on" is the way your baby grasps your breast. If she's latched on properly, she'll get all the milk she needs, and you won't become sore. You can help your baby latch on by touching her upper lip with your nipple. Wait until her mouth is wide open like a yawn. Then bring her to your breast with her head tilted back, chin forward and bottom lip as far from the nipple as possible. Her mouth should have a firm hold on your breast, not just your nipple.
Signs that your baby has latched on properly
- Her mouth is opened wide.
- Her chin is pressed into your breast.
- Some areola is visible above the top lip (if you have a small areola none may show).
- You do not experience nipple pain.
Signs that you baby is feeding well
- He is sucking rhythmically.
- He is calm while feeding.
- He is swallowing, which can be seen or heard.
- If your baby falls asleep after a few minutes, squeeze your breast to help your milk flow. This may help her to start swallowing again. To remove your baby from your breast, slip your finger into her mouth between the gums to break the suction.
- When your baby no longer has strong 'deep and slow' sucks and your breast feels softer, offer the second breast. She may only feed a short time on the second breast, if at all. At the next feeding, offer the breast that she fed on last. Often this breast feels fullest.
Try different positions. For all positions, check that:
- Your baby is tucked in close under your breast.
- You bring your baby in to you instead of leaning over or pushing your nipple into your baby's mouth.
- You are comfortable and well supported. Sometimes a pillow may be helpful.