Breastfeeding Positions: What's Best for you and Your Baby?
Congratulations on the birth of your baby. You're experiencing an exciting new time, full of memories.
And the time spent between you and your child while breastfeeding can be one of the most intimate experiences. You're not only bonding with your child, but you are also providing essential nutrients that will help them grow and develop.
But there isn't a one-size-fits-all way of breastfeeding your child.
Certified nurse midwife Jessica Costa, APRN, CNM, explains why it's important to have a few different breastfeeding positions in your routine.
Why Breastfeeding Position Matters
You've found a breastfeeding position that works for you. You shouldn't be afraid to try different breastfeeding positions as you feed your baby.
"Different breastfeeding positions empty the breast in different ways," says Costa. Different feeding positions can also help the baby latch in a different way.
If your little one has trouble latching, you can try switching positions to make it more manageable. Costa says that they will be more able to open their breasts freely.
Also, it's important to be attentive to early feeding cues of your child such:
- Move your fingers towards their mouth.
- To look at the breast, turn your head.
- Become more active and alert.
- Lip smacking or sucking on their lips.
- Their mouths can be opened and closed.
Costa advises that you should learn early feeding cues to ensure your baby does not get upset or cry. Otherwise, latching will be difficult and the baby won't want to breastfeed as soon as possible. To get a bigger latch, it is also important that your baby pulls his chin lower. Let your baby take in all of the nutrients and not just grab onto your nipple.
However, what if your breasts are smaller or larger?
Costa says, "It is all about personal preference." It will depend on how big your baby is and what size breasts you have. To find the best position for you, I suggest that parents test all possible positions.
Costa suggests that those with bigger breasts need to breastfeed while still able to reach their babies.
It is important to not let the breast go, she says. It will be more difficult for babies to retain the breast weight in their mouths.
Positions for Breastfeeding
Below are some breastfeeding options.
Breastfeeding with laid back
Also known as "biological nurturing", this is also called. Begin by laying down on your couch or bed and inclining towards the side. Your baby should be positioned tummy-to-tummy so that their head lies near your breasts.
Costa states, "This position is newer than what people have been using over the years." It will be easier for babies to use and more natural. It's easier for babies to unwind in this position.
She adds that if you have had a Cesarean Delivery (C-section), the best position to be in is the relaxed one.
Costa says, "You don’t need to be upright. This can create more pain and discomfort at your incision site." The laid back position allows you to use less abdominal muscle which will aid in pain relief .
Keep your Cradle
As it offers you maximum control , the cradle position is the most commonly used.
Stand straight up. Start by placing your baby on your chest. Your other arm and hand can be used to support the remainder of your baby’s body.
Costa explains that what's actually happening is that your baby is actually placing its weight on you. This is similar to lay-back breastfeeding, where your baby lies down in a seated position. In the cradle position you sit straight up and hold the baby. Your baby isn't actually lying on your chest."
You should be in a straight position. Your baby should be placed across your chest with your opposite arm. For the right breast use your left arm. Your right arm should be used for the left breast. You should support the baby's head by supporting it with one hand. You can use your other hand to support the breasts from underneath.
Costa explains that the cross-cradle works in the exact same way as the cradle except you are actually holding the baby with one arm. Cross-cradles allow you to have more control than with a traditional cradle. The cross-cradle allows you to position baby's head and move it around a lot more efficiently.
Football holds the future
The clutch hold, also called the underarm position or clutch hold is this. Place your baby in front of you, with your elbow bent. You will place your baby's forearm on your arm. Your baby's head will be supported by your support hand. If necessary, you can support your breast with your left hand.
Costa notes that the football hold "is very nice as it drains breasts in a different way." It is possible for some babies to latch in this position better. This position might make them more comfortable.
This position will require support, such as a pillow.
Additionally, she says that it is recommended to use a pillow in all positions. This is especially important for babies who are very small. The parent must hold the baby, and then do all of it. It's a good idea to use a pillow for support when you are in a difficult position.
Place your baby on your stomach and face your partner. To support your baby, use the arm that isn't lying down to hold it and cover your breasts if necessary.
Costa states that it is beneficial to parents who are trying to rest, or to nurse their baby in the middle the night. You want to ensure you are able to stay awake, alert and not get snoozed with your baby before you even attempt to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is possible.
Place your baby upright. Your baby should be placed on your hip, or crossed your thigh. As they feed, you want to ensure that their spines and heads are straight.
Costa states, "This is going to take more time for older babies." It's a good position for older children who can keep their heads up and are able to hold on.
Do not eat from the dangle.
Your baby should be lying flat on its back, either on your stomach or on a flat surface. For feeding, your baby can be placed on their back with your hands over your stomach. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you may also be able to kneel or lean forward.
Costa says that if a parent's primary task is to get ready for work or do other things, it can be more relaxing than others. Costa says that this is not the best position for prolonged periods.
Hold double football
Do you have multiple babies? You may choose to breastfeed your babies separately. You can use the football hold to breastfeed one child on either side. Use pillows to support them both.
Tip for Breastfeeding
Numerous new parents have difficulty breastfeeding.
What is the most important tip? Costa advises that you breathe. Costa says, "You'll want to ensure that your baby is calm and you are calm."
It is also recommended that you attend a class on breastfeeding before giving birth.
Breastfeeding can seem overwhelming. She continues, "It's so many information." It's helpful to have some understanding and to be ready before you give birth to your baby.
Costa recommends that you consult a lactation consultant if you have tried other positions but are still unsuccessful. A lactation consultant can help you determine if your baby or yourself are not functioning properly.
Don't forget that breastfeeding is not an easy journey.
Costa says that breastfeeding can lead to depression in people who are unable to feed their baby. You can get help. It's not all your fault.