When your sweet little slimy baby is placed on your skin for the very first time, if you give them time, they will crawl up your body and make their way to your breast to start suckling (amazing, right?!).
Or, if you want to get right to it, you can place them into positions that help them get onto your breast effectively right from that very first feeding.
Throughout your days, months, or years of nursing, you will most likely switch up positions that work best for you and your babe as they grow. Simply because of their size, their strength, where you are located, and your size of breasts, you will end up having your go-to’s.
Getting into an optimal position will help your baby feed more efficiently and your nipples to stay healthy. I hope you try all the different positions and pick the one that makes you and your baby feel comfortable and supported.
To start, get in a comfy spot that has great back support. Next, get yourself a breastfeeding pillow! My favorite is the Brest Friend because it clips around your body so you can make a shelf for your baby so they are in the perfect height at your breasts. The breastfeeding pillow gives you some freedom with your hands too (especially necessary in those early days, when you’ll need to control your DVR and your phone to text your new mama friends).
1. Cross cradle
The cross cradle position is my go-to when helping new mothers nurse. It allows you to have the most control over your baby’s body and head. It’s helpful for small babie, new babies, and babies who have trouble latching. It can also assist with mothers with flatter nipples. In this position, lay your baby totally on his/her side across your body. If you are starting with your right breast, your left hand will be at the base of the baby’s shoulders and neck, supporting the head, while their tushy will be tight in your left elbow crease. Your right hand will be supporting the underside of your breast making a U shape, which will mimic the direction of your baby’s lips. Have their left hand/arm under your breast and the other on top to hug the breast
While this position can certainly work for newborns, you will have much less control over your baby’s head, so this position is best for a bigger baby, women with larger breasts, and a confident breastfeeder. If you are feeding on your right breast, unlike cross cradle, your baby’s head is in the nook of your right arm while your hand and arm are supporting your baby’s back and buttocks. Your left hand is lifting up your right breast to place it near your baby’s mouth. Your baby will be either horizontal or on a slight angle.
3. Football or clutch
In this position, you will tuck your baby underneath your arm beside your body, on the side you are nursing them from. This position is definitely recommended for women with very large breasts, for women who have soreness on their belly’s from a cesarean section, and it’s the BEST for feeding your twins at the same time. When you place your baby in this position make sure you have enough pillows underneath their body so their nose is high enough to be in line with your nipple. Their feet should not be pressed up against the couch behind you. Instead, have their butt resting against the back couch cushion and feet up to the ceiling. If we are nursing on the right side, your right hand will be holding the back of their shoulders and neck to support the head. Your left hand will be supporting your right breast mimicking the direction of your baby’s lips, in a C shape.
4. Side lying
This position is the best for middle of the night feeds or early morning feeds where you can still be cozy with your baby in a half sleep. It is also great for when a mama has an oversupply or fast letdown because it allows the overflow of milk to trickle out of the corner of the baby’s mouth. If you are nursing on your right side, you will have a pillow supporting your back and head, your baby will be on their left side with their whole body facing in toward you. Their nose will be at the height of your right nipple. Your right arm will be around the baby, supporting their back or it can be placed up behind your head, and your left arm will be around the baby supporting their body. If you are the mama with lots of milk or a spitty baby, you should have your baby’s head resting up on your right arm which will tilt their head up as they nurse.
5. Laid Back (biological nursing)
In this position, you are semi-reclined and every part of your body is supported by pillows. The baby lies on their tummy slightly tilted up on your tummy, and the breast is made available to the baby. There is nothing to remember, no rules, no specific way of holding, you just let your baby make its way to your breast and nipples. Most infants will self-attach. This position can also be helpful for mothers with fast let-downs because gravity will help slow the flow.
6. In a carrier
For moms who lead a busy life-style with their kiddo in tow, baby wearing is so yummy for both you and the baby, and its super easy access to your breasts for nursing. All you need to do is line your baby up so they can reach your breasts. For example, if you use the ErgoBaby 360, wear your baby facing in toward you, lower one of the shoulder straps enough so that your little one will be right in line with your breast. Take your breast out and voila! You can be subtle, concealed, and can carry on about your day while nursing.
Every time you get setup to nurse your baby, have a big glass of water next to you. Get comfy. Grab your pillows. Remember the baby should always come to your breast, not your breast to the baby. When you make a C or a U shape with your hand to hold your breast, make sure your hand is far enough away from the areola so the baby does not hit your fingers when trying to latch. If its painful, try adjusting the baby’s position, and if its still painful, gently break the suction and re-latch. Switch up your routine or settle on a position that you and your baby both love. And most importantly, enjoy it.