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Five breastfeeding positions and why a mom's comfort matters

Updated: Mar 21




Okay, let me first say that moms are AMAZING! I regularly see them twisting their bodies into pretzels and wincing through pain while breastfeeding their babies. Moms will do anything for the baby’s health and happiness, even at their own expense.


Moms are selfless and determined, and they often have very, very sore backs!


I want breastfeeding families to know that moms are allowed to be comfortable. In fact, it is in a baby's best interest for their mom to be relaxed during breastfeeding. Here’s why:


  1. Relaxation = milk flow: When a mom is comfortable, relaxed, and at ease, her body releases hormones like oxytocin, which can help with let-down and milk flow.

  2. Comfort = more breastfeeding: When a mom is comfortable, she's more likely to breastfeed for longer durations and more frequently, which helps maintain a healthy milk supply and ensure the baby is getting enough.

  3. A good latch is pain-free: A comfortable position allows for a good latch, which is crucial for effective milk transfer and prevents nipple pain and damage.

  4. Breastfeeding is bonding: Breastfeeding is important for mother-baby bonding. When a mom is comfortable, she can focus on connecting with her baby during feeding sessions.

  5. Breastfeeding goals: If a mom finds breastfeeding uncomfortable or painful, she may be less likely to continue. Ensuring her comfort supports her breastfeeding goals, empower her, and providing her baby with the benefits of breast milk for longer.


A mom's comfort matters. When a mom is comfortable during breastfeeding, it is easier to maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship and a positive breastfeeding experience for both the mom and baby. Also, the mom avoids a few trips to the chiropractor!


Breastfeeding positions make a difference.


After giving birth, many moms are shown one breastfeeding position in the hospital. Unfortunately, that particular position may not work well for the mother-baby pair. This leads to a lot of unnecessary stress and discomfort. Families may not realize other positions could make a huge difference.


It’s a good idea for parents to try several different breastfeeding positions. I’ve seen babies suddenly feed well when a new position is tried. I’ve also seen nursing pain lessen and disappear. Not every problem can be solved by positioning, but it’s an excellent place to start!


Below, I’ll describe five popular breastfeeding positions and how to achieve them. Each position has advantages and may work better for some, depending on comfort, circumstance, and the needs of the mother and baby. When done correctly, both mom and baby should feel comfortable and calm.


Are you a new mom learning to breastfeed? Read on to find your new favorite position! (Can you guess mine?)


Five popular breastfeeding positions


Cradle

This is the position you probably think of when you imagine a mother breastfeeding her baby. It is the position most often depicted in art, photos, and movies.  Here are the steps:

  1. Hold your baby in one arm with their head resting in the crook of your elbow.

  2. Use your free hand to help latch your baby to your breas.t


Pros: This position is familiar to most new parents. It allows for close contact

between parent and baby, which can be comfortable for many moms.


Cons: If the baby has a poor latch, it isn't easy to correct since moms have little control in this position.


Cross-cradle

This position is similar to Cradle. However, the baby is flipped, so your hand supports their head. In this way, parents have more control over the baby’s latch.


  1. Support your baby’s body with your forearm.

  2. Support your baby’s head with your hand in a C-shape with your thumb and finger behind the head and below the ears (base of the skull, not back of the head)

  3. Turn your baby’s body towards your body (think “belly to belly”)

  4. Align your baby’s nose to your nipple (opposite the arm you are holding them with)

  5. Use your free hand to help latch your baby to your breast.


Pros: Moms have better control and support over the baby’s head and latch


Cons: This is a very technical position, with several steps and small things to watch for, which can sometimes be frustrating when learning.


Football

This position is often taught to new parents in the hospital. Here’s how you do it:


  1. Position your baby beside you, their head below your breast, and their legs behind you.

  2. Support your baby’s body with your forearm

  3. Support your baby’s head with your hand, with your thumb and finger behind the head and below the ears (base of the skull, not back of the head)

  4. Your baby should be mostly straight and not wrapped around you

  5. Use your free hand to help latch your baby to your breast.


Pros: Great for tandem feeding and moms recovering from cesarian delivery.


Cons: It is very technical for parents and unnatural for babies. Babies also outgrow this position quickly, requiring more space for their legs.


Side-lying

Have you tried side-lying yet? It can be a lifesaver for night feeds, tired days, and getting babies (and toddlers) down for naps!


  1. Find a firm but comfortable surface.

  2. Lay down on your side (arm under your head or pillow) with your baby facing you, also on their side (think “belly to belly”)

  3. Use your free hand to align your baby so the middle of their forehead is at your nipple (think “forehead to nipple”)

  4. When baby opens wide, push gently between baby’s shoulder blades, bringing them into you to latch.


Pros: This is great for tired moms looking for rest, moms recovering from a cesarian delivery, and fussy babies/toddlers who struggle to feed in other positions. This is a wonderful position!


Cons: Some parents recovering from a cesarian delivery have difficulty sitting up and lying down for this position. Exhausted parents may find it challenging to stay awake.


Laid back

This is also known as the “biological nurturing” position.  When placed in this position, babies use their instincts to feed. Parents need to do very little but lay back and enjoy the bonding.


  1. Make your breasts available by removing your top and/or bra

  2. Recline comfortably with your baby lying vertically on top of you with their head between your breasts (think “belly to belly”)

  3. Gently support your baby by holding them under their armpits while they remain against your body (gravity helps)

  4. Watch as your baby begins using their instincts to find your breast and self-latch

  5. If your baby has trouble latching, bring their mouth directly over your nipple (legs can straddle your thigh)

  6. After the baby latches, your arm closest to your baby relaxes – the hand supports your baby’s bum, and the upper arm becomes a pillow for your baby’s head.

  7. Use pillows and armrests to support your body in this position.


Pros: Easy for parents. Easy and instinctive for babies. It can resolve many latching difficulties. This is my favorite position!


Cons: Some parents have never seen this used and initially find it awkward. Moms recovering from cesarian delivery may find this puts too much pressure on the abdomen.


Your comfort matters


Moms should find a position that best suits their unique needs and preferences. However, beyond just finding the correct position, prioritizing a mom’s comfort during breastfeeding is essential for a positive and enjoyable experience. When moms feel relaxed, comfortable, and supported, they connect better with their babies, produce more milk, and breastfeed longer.


Whether you’re a new mom learning to breastfeed or a seasoned pro looking to try something new, remember that your comfort matters – It really, really does.


Do you have a favorite feeding position? Tell me about it in the comments section!
 

Do you have questions or want to learn more? Click the "Book Now" button below to schedule a First Meeting with me!





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