Breastfeed - All about positioning
We answer your questions about breastfeeding comfortably and provide you with helpful positions.
If you’re a first-time parent, breastfeeding your newborn may seem complicated until you’ve had some practice. But a little preparation can help you feel more comfortable.
Basic Steps for Optimal Positioning
- Position yourself comfortably with back support, pillows supporting your arms and in your lap and your feet supported by a footrest or a telephone book.
- Position baby close to you, with his hips flexed, so that he does not have to turn his head to reach your breast. His mouth and nose should be facing your nipple. If possible, ask your helper to hand you the baby once you are comfortable.
- Support your breast so it is not pressing on your baby’s chin. Your baby’s chin should drive into your breast.
- Attach or latch baby onto your breast. Encourage him to open his mouth wide and pull him close by supporting his back (rather than the back of his head) so that his chin drives into your breast. His nose will be touching your breast. Your hand forms a “second neck” for your baby.
Common breastfeeding positions
This is the first hold many mothers will try, often soon after their babies are born. To start, cradle your baby’s head in the crook of your arm with your baby’s nose opposite your nipple. Use that hand to support your baby’s bottom. Turn your baby on his or her side, so that your baby is belly to belly to you. Then, raise your baby to your breast. You can support your breast with your other hand. Let the baby snuggle in the crook of your arm. The baby should be on her side rather than on her back. Place a pillow on your lap so that you do not have to lean forward or strain your side.
Reverse Cradle Hold (Cross-Cradle)
A reverse of the cradle hold, this across-the-body position allows better visibility of baby’s mouth during latch-on and better control of baby’s head. It’s a good alternative to the clutch hold if your baby needs extra support during latch-on, but you like the maternal feelings that come from having baby across your body. Use this position in the following situations:
- Babies who have difficulty latching on.
- Babies who come off the nipple frequently during breastfeeding.
- Babies who are small or premature.
Many mothers find lying down to nurse a comfortable position, especially at night. Both mother and baby lie on their sides facing each other. You can use pillows behind your back and behind or between your knees to help get comfortable. A pillow or rolled blanket behind the baby’s back will keep him from rolling away from you. The baby can be cradled in your arm with his back along your forearm. Having his hips flexed and his ear, shoulder and hip in one line helps your baby get milk more easily. Some mothers find that practicing with this position during the daytime is very helpful.
Prop a few pillows under your forearm and lay the baby down on your arm with your head on your hand. The baby should be held close to your body like a football and the baby‘s mouth is then brought to the nipple. It is tiring so it would be good to place more pillows under the arm for support. Repeat on the other side.
Breastfeeding sessions may take up to 40 minutes in the early days. It is therefore important to pick a comfortable place for the sessions. Find a quiet spot if you are easily distracted by noise or if you find the feeding times boring, you may want to feed in front of the television. Do this only when breastfeeding is well established or watching TV may become a distraction. Some mothers may even read a book or surf the internet during breastfeeding sessions. You‘ll have to find a place and a position which what works best for you.
Hold your baby in a position that won’t leave your arms and back sore and support your arms and back with cushions if necessary. You and your baby should be relaxed before you start feeding. If latching on hurts, break the suction by inserting your little finger between your baby’s gums and your nipple – and try to latch on again. Once you ensure that your baby latches on properly, she‘ll be able to do the rest.
Should I feed from both sides or just one side?
Take your cue from your baby. She may want to have milk from one or from both breasts at each feed.
What are the best positions for breastfeeding after Caesarean?
The best ways to feed after a Caesarean is to lie down on your side or in a semi reclining position. You can place a soft pillow over your belly so that your baby doesn‘t kick at the wound. Having a pillow under you arm can also help to make you more comfortable.
If you breastfeed by lying down on your side, hold your baby on her side, facing you with her mouth facing the nipple. You should support your baby‘s back with your arm. You can offer your baby the other breast by simply placing her on your chest and then rolling over. Over the next few days, you can try to nurse the baby in an upright position. But do so at your own pace and always ask for help from your family to help you position the baby if you are unable to move much due to the wound.
The football hold is also a good position for the mom who’s had a C-section and also for mothers with large breasts or small babies. Mothers with twins who want to feed the babies at the same time may also choose this position.
Watch this video to learn more about breastfeeding positions for newborns.
Need Help? Don’t fret!
When in doubt, please refer to a lactation consultant, who can offer you more personalised advice according to you and your baby’s situation.
theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum advice.