Mom holding her baby.


Exploring Breastfeeding Positions: Finding Your Best Fit

Breastfeeding can be a difficult transition for new mothers. While some babies have a strong latch from day one, most newborns require a little practice. To help your baby get the most out of your nursing sessions, you can try several variations of breastfeeding positions. The different angles, support, and gravitational assistance can help improve your confidence and determine what works best for both you and your baby. To help you on this path of discovery, here’s some information on finding the best breastfeeding position for you.


Tips for Breastfeeding Preparation

Regardless of the position you plan to use, taking some time to prepare for your nursing sessions can make the world of a difference. Gather everything that you’re going to need when breastfeeding and make sure items are easily accessible. This could include a drink, snacks, your phone, a book or magazine, your favorite podcast, or the TV remote. Having everything nearby will help you avoid disturbing your baby’s feeding process.

Right before you sit down to nurse, go to the bathroom. Holding your bladder while breastfeeding is not fun and can have negative side effects on your healing body. Then, find a comfortable position and use pillows, towels, or cushions for added support as needed. Your baby should also be comfortable and have plenty of support. While trying different breastfeeding positions, make sure that their head, neck, and spine remain in alignment.


9 Effective Breastfeeding Positions to Try

Once you’re settled, it’s time to start breastfeeding. Some babies have a strong latch in several positions, while others are more successful with one type of hold. As you try each of the following positions, check to see if your baby is latching correctly. A strong latch is important for successful breastfeeding. If one position doesn’t work or feel right, don’t worry. There are plenty of options and with a little trial and error, you’ll find something that works for you both.


  1. Cradle Hold

    The cradle hold position is considered a classic breastfeeding position and is instinctually used by both new and experienced moms. During the cradle hold, you position your baby with their stomach against your body. Support your baby using the arm on the same side as the nursing breast. Just make sure you keep your baby’s neck and spine in alignment with their head for a safe nursing technique. You can adapt the cradle hold with a nursing pillow to reduce strain on your arm or help support your elbow.


  2. Cross-Cradle Hold

    If you find the cradle position difficult or uncomfortable, try a cross-cradle hold. This tends to be the most effective latch for newborns as you have more control in positioning without straining their spine. The way you hold your baby is similar to a cradle hold, but you’ll use both hands to support your baby’s body and head. In this variation, use the arm opposite of the nursing breast to support your baby’s body and the hand on the side of the nursing breast to support their head and neck. Keep your baby flush against your stomach so that your breast hangs directly in front of their mouth. It might take some practice, but the cross-cradle hold is a great way to ensure a deep latch.


  3. Reclined Position

    Another way to capitalize on your baby’s instinctual nursing reflexes is to utilize the reclined position. This is also referred to as biological nursing, as it complements your baby’s innate reflexes while providing you with a good degree of comfort. While a reclining chair is helpful, it’s not entirely necessary to master this position. Instead, recline comfortably using pillows for support and position your baby on your chest with their stomach touching yours. Their head should be at nipple level with their neck properly aligned with the spine. You may need to shift positions to find the perfect spot, but your baby’s reflexes will likely guide them to your nipple naturally. Feel free to experiment with this position and find something that works for you. Just make sure you keep your baby’s spine and neck in alignment with their head for a safe nursing technique.

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  4. Lying on Your Side

    Breastfeeding on your side is great for women who have undergone a c-section. Similarly, it’s a relaxing way to nurse your child when you’re tired or just need a moment to relax. However, side-lying breastfeeding often takes some trial and error to get right and is best for babies who are a little bigger. You can choose either side for this position with your baby lying next to you. Make sure that baby's mouth can reach your nipple and hold them close to your side, using your arm, a nursing pillow, or a small blanket to support their back. Depending on the size of your baby, they may be able to choose between either breast. Avoid the side-position if you’re exhausted as falling asleep here can be dangerous for your baby.


  5. Football Hold

    The football hold is also called the clutch position. It’s a great option for moms who have undergone a caesarean section as this position doesn’t put any added pressure on the abdominal area or surgical site. To achieve the football hold position, sit in a chair with a cushion or pillow on your side and position your baby. You’ll place your baby on the side of your nursing breast atop the pillow. Your arm should be under your baby’s body for support with their hips in alignment with yours. Make sure your baby’s nose is in line with your nipple and their neck is supported with your hand.


  6. Double Football Hold

    If you have twins, the double football hold is a wonderful way to comfortably feed both babies at the same time. It allows you to tandemly nurse without occupying your hands. This provides a relaxing nursing session for mom and both babies. You may need to purchase a twin breastfeeding pillow to optimize this position but doing so will help your babies achieve a deep latch without added strain on your abdomen.


  7. Koala Hold

    A popular position for developing babies is the koala hold, also referred to as upright breastfeeding. In this position, your baby will be sitting upright either straddling your thigh or supported on your hip. With a neutral spine, hold your baby’s head to your breast. Once your baby is able to support their own head, this position becomes even more convenient for busy moms. Regardless of the age, koala holds are great for babies who regularly suffer from reflex, ear infections, tongue ties, or low muscle tone. 


  8. Dancer Hand Nursing

    Some baby’s struggle to stay latched or find a deep latch when breastfeeding. This can result in nutritional deficiencies and low milk supply. To combat these types of issues, or if your child was born prematurely, with a disability, or has an illness, try the dancer hand nursing position. You’ll use one hand to support both your baby’s head and your breast. To do this, cup your breast with your fingers on one side and your thumb on the other so that your index finger and thumb form a “U” shape in front of the breast and three remaining fingers are used for support. Then, rest your baby’s jaw in your hand, with their chin at the bottom of the “U.” This is great for added support and control of your baby’s latch.


  9. Dangle Feeding

If you experience engorgement, mastitis, or blocked milk ducts, try dangle feeding. Although a little untraditional, some moms find this position to be helpful when they are experiencing discomfort from the above conditions. To engage in dangle feeding, you’ll crouch over your baby on all fours and allow your breast to dangle into their mouth. Use cushions or pillows to support yourself and avoid strain. While this position isn’t always the most comfortable, it’s not meant to be used regularly.

If you’re still unable to secure a strong latch or find a comfortable position, consider working with a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant will be able to help you address everything from a weak latch to uncomfortable or sore nipples. Ask your doctor for a recommendation or find a specialist in your network online. Whether you’re struggling with breastfeeding or looking for a way to supplement your nursing sessions, Byram Healthcare can help. We offer a wide selection of insurance covered breast pumps to new and expecting moms to help ensure your baby is getting the nutrients they need for a healthy development. Browse our product selection and get started with our easy, three-step ordering process today.