Proper positioning of both mother and baby when breastfeeding, and in particular the attachment of the baby to the breast, enables your baby to get enough breastmilk and can help to prevent sore nipples and insufficient milk supply.
Make sure you are comfortable: either sitting up or lying in bed, or sitting in your favourite chair. Many mothers find it helpful to create a flat lap in the early days, either by elevating the feet or sitting on a pillow. Some mothers raise their babies to breast height, while others use the natural nurturing approach of holding their babies diagonally across their bodies.
Learn about the different breastfeeding positions and which one is right for you and your baby.
Cradle Hold Breastfeeding – Across Lap
With the across lap – cradle hold breastfeeding position, the baby’s head will rest in the crook of your elbow or on your forearm, with his whole body facing you, and will be supported with the same arm beneath his back and with your hand on his thigh or bottom.
Cross Cradle Hold Breastfeeding
With the cross-cradle hold breastfeeding position, the baby is supported at breast height by the opposite arm to the breast being offered. Your elbow is on the baby’s bottom with your forearm along his back. Your palm is on his upper back, fingers and thumb either side of his neck. Your forefinger supports the base of his head under the ear.
Rugby Hold Breastfeeding
During this particular rugby hold breastfeeding or clutch position, the baby lies on his side between your side and flexed arm with his feet out behind you. The baby’s shoulders, neck and the base of his head are supported by your hand, allowing your opposite hand to hold the breast if needed.
Side Lying Breastfeeding
Many mothers find lying down to breastfeed a comfortable position, particularly at night or after a caesarean section. Both mum and baby lie on the sides and face towards each other. You can use pillows in your back to ensure you are comfortable. A pillow or rolled up blanket can also be used behind your baby to ensure he doesn’t roll away from the breast. Try to keep your baby’s body in line to help him latch on and feed easier.
The koala hold is a great reflux breastfeeding position for babies as it’s the most comfortable to them. Sit your baby with one leg on each side of your thigh or hip, with his spine or head upright. This position is suited to an older baby if they can sit without any support.
Laid Back Breastfeeding
Laid back breastfeeding position refers to when you lie back or recline on a sofa or bed. This is particularly helpful if you’ve had a caesarean section, as you can lie your baby in a way that doesn’t affect your incision. Whether you want to lie them on your front, with their tummy resting on your stomach or lying them across your shoulder.
Regardless of the position you choose to breastfeed, make sure the baby’s head and body are facing the breast, and help him to come onto the breast chin-first, aiming the nipple to the roof of his mouth when the mouth is open wide. Your baby needs to take a good part of the areolar tissue into his wide, gaping mouth, with your nipple protected deep at the back of the mouth.
So long as you are comfortable and your baby is alert and ready to latch on, trying different breastfeeding positions will help you to work out which works for you both – but remember that breastfeeding is a learnt skill for you and your baby that comes with time and practice. If you are suffering from sore nipples, seek help from a breastfeeding counsellor. In the meantime, Lansinoh HPA® Lanolin can help soothe and protect your cracked nipples, and does not need to be removed before breastfeeding.