The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Positions

Being successful at breastfeeding can be as simple as finding the right position. 

Certain breastfeeding positions work better for some than for others, depending on the situation and your comfort level.  It’s a good idea to try out various different breastfeeding positions until you find one that is comfortable for you.  You may even use a combination of breastfeeding positions in a single feeding or throughout the day and night.

Check out this guide to ensure that you are utilizing all the breastfeeding positions correctly and getting the most out of your breastfeeding experience.
The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Positions
*This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author. This post may also contain affiliate and/or paid links. Rest assured that I only work with companies and individuals that I trust. While some of those companies and individuals may work in the medical field, this post is not intended to be a substitution for medical advice. Always speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental or physical health.

Most Common Breastfeeding Positions

1. Cradle and Cross Cradle Nursing Position

Both are the most common nursing position of all time where you carry your baby within your arms to breastfeed.

Cradle hold

In which your baby is lying on the forearm of the same breast you use to breastfeed (i.e. if you breastfeed from the right breast, your baby is held with your right forearm and vice versa). 

Cross-cradle hold

The same as cradle hold except your baby is on the opposite forearm of the breast you use to breastfeed (i.e. if you breastfeed from the right breast, your baby is held with your left forearm and vice versa).

Breastfeeding Positions - Cradle Hold
Cradle Hold Breastfeeding Position

Important notes

      • Your baby is on their side with their head and neck in the same straight line. In other words, if your baby’s neck is tilted down, the swallowing process would be hard which affects the milk extraction negatively and hence your milk supply.
      • Your breast is at the same level at baby’s head.
      • Always keep your baby’s head free to move back to enable them to catch your breast deeply and widely.
      • Baby’s stomach should be placed against your stomach.
      • Baby’s legs are around your waist for more comfort and control.

2. Football Nursing Position

This position gets it’s name from the way football players carry the ball under their arm. Your baby is on their side or back and their head is between your armpit and the breast they are feeding from.  Baby’s body is wrapped around your side and back.

Important notes

      •  This particular position is preferred if you have had a c-section as it does not place any additional weight on your abdomen.
      • You can also try a double football hold for breastfeeding twins at the same time.
      • Try to keep your baby’s legs away from any solid surface such as the back of the chair or sofa.  That is because of a natural reflex called the stepping reflex, when their legs step on any solid surface, they instinctively push against that surface.  This makes the latching process hard and unstable.

3. The Laid Back Nursing Position (it is also called Biological Nurturing)

With this position, you are lying on your back in a semi-reclined position by using two pillows under your head and neck and your baby is positioned along your body.  In this breastfeeding position, you can use gravity to help baby latch, without the need of pillows or extra effort to support.

Breastfeeding Positions - Laid Back NursingHold
Laid Back Breastfeeding Position

Important notes

      • It is the most recommended position after birth and within 1 hour.
      • The biological nurturing helps your baby to self-latch by searching for your nipple.
      • This is a great breastfeeding position to encourage skin to skin contact, which can stimulate a let down as well as help you bond with baby.
      • This position is also suitable for moms after c-section, simply rotate the baby 90° degrees clockwise or counterclockwise to avoid the weight on your abdomen.

4. The Side-Lying Nursing Position

Nursing while side lying is another in-bed breastfeeding position which is great for breastfeeding in the middle of the night.  You simply lay beside baby in bed or on a flat, stable surface and they can nurse while lying on the bed beside you. 

Breastfeeding Positions - Side Lying Hold
Side Lying Breastfeeding Position

Important notes

      • It is suitable if you co-sleep with your baby.
      • Once baby is latched, keep the tummy to tummy contact using your free hand by pushing his body gently into yours.

5. Koala Hold or Upright/Sitting Nursing Position

In this position, your baby is sitting upright in front of you.  Make sure to support their neck and shoulders with your hand on the same side of your used breast. The other hand is to support your breast to help baby latch on properly.

Breastfeeding Positions - Koala Hold
Koala or Upright/Sitting Breastfeeding Position

Important notes

      • This is a good breastfeeding position to use when your baby is older than 1 year.
      • This position can help if you have a fast/strong milk ejection letdown reflex.
      • If your baby has acid reflux (GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disease), this position can help reduce symptoms during feedings.

Additional Information

After birth, make sure to get your baby checked from a professional health care provider for any anomalies within their mouth like tongue tie or cleft palate.  In such conditions, you may need to use specific positions in order to achieve breastfeeding success. 

Pick the quietest and the most comfortable room in your house for breastfeeding.  Relaxation has a positive effect on the breast milk supply.

Try using breast massage before latching to enhance the blood circulation within your mammary glands.

Make sure to utilize breast compression while breastfeeding to ensure that your baby is getting more of the fattier hind milk with each feed. 

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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It is highly recommended to shift between different breastfeeding positions until baby is done nursing, and your breast have been emptied.

Always support your head, neck, and shoulders using pillows to avoid back pain.  And remember that any type of pain would put you under stress which decreases your milk supply.

During breastfeeding, make sure your baby’s nose is free and you can pass one finger between their nose and your breast. You also want to make sure that baby’s chin is pressed up against your breast.  These are signs of a proper latch.

Consider taking a breastfeeding course for additional tips, resources and information.  I recommend Milkology online!