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When you first start learning how to breastfeed, one of the most challenging things is feeling like you have enough hands to help baby latch in a position that's comfortable for both mom and baby. There is no right or wrong way to breastfeed, but in this post I will go over the 5 most common breastfeeding positions (which each have many variations!) and some tips for ensuring comfort!
1. Cradle Position
The cradle position is the first one we think of when we picture infant feeding. This is one of the most common yet unnatural positions. Many moms find this position to be tricky at first because it can be challenging to hold baby and help him latch on. Surprisingly enough, this is because this is a bottle feeding position that we have tried to adapt to breastfeeding. While some moms love this position, and that's perfectly okay, it's certainly can require some practice.
- Be sure to keep baby belly to belly
- Keep ear, shoulder, and hip in alignment. (That alignment is the secret to comfortable nursing in any position!) Outward rotations can make latching more difficult, causing a fussy baby and frustrated mom.
- Using a nursing pillow when baby is little can help you figure this out.
2. Cross Cradle Position
This variation of the cradle position can make it a bit easier to help baby latch as you have a free hand, but it still has many of the same challenges as the cradle position.
3. Football Hold
The football hold is often recommended for women who have had Cesarean deliveries to prevent damage to the incision. Interestingly enough, I could not nurse in this position after my Cesarean, but preferred it after my VBAC. Using a pillow to prop baby and your arm can make this position sustainable for a longer feed. Football holds become less practical the bigger and more active a baby gets, in my opinion.
Nursing pillows are always a great tool, and I absolutely love mine. They are so versatile. That being said, regular pillows can work well also.
- Ensure alignment in the same manner as Tips from Position 1
- Use pillows
4. Side Lying
For some reason I found side lying to be horribly terrifying and awkward at first with a newborn. Once we practiced and mastered it though, it became a favorite nursing position. This is our go to position when Baby Bear is super fussy and won't focus to nurse. We are both able to relax in this position without paying too much attention to alignment, because it occurs naturally.
- With small babies I find propping their head on my arm is helpful until we've both gotten more comfortable with the position.
5. Laid Back Nursing (Supine)
This position is also sometimes referred to Biological Nursing. With baby and mom tummy to tummy, mom leans back to a degree that is comfortable for both her and baby. The illustration above shows a dramatic laying back, which works for some, but leaning back in a recliner or other comfortable chair at a 45 degree angle, or any degree that is comfortable, is okay too! The physics of this position allows baby to naturally, with little assistance from mom, attain a deep latch. Another interesting thing about this position is the full frontal contact puts pressure on certain points on baby's body that aids in relaxation and willingness to feed more comfortably.
This position is often recommended for moms experiencing nipple pain or strong let downs.
I like to adapt this position when nursing in public by letting baby's body fall diagonally across my torso as I put my bottom toward the edge of a chair and lean back a bit, supporting his body with the arm of whichever side he's nursing. Maybe I'll do a video on this one soon!
What were your favorite nursing positions? Did you have a favorite tool to help you nurse comfortably? Share your tips with us now!
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