Breastfeeding Positions – The 8 Best Positions & Everything You Need To Know

Is breastfeeding difficult? Um…let me think, YES, absolutely! But, that shouldn’t discourage you from breastfeeding, because after all the pain and exhaustion, it becomes second nature, and believe me it’s totally worth it when you know that your baby is getting the most nutritious food every time through breastfeeding. But, yes, the question arises, how do you go from hard to easy?

There are methods and ways for a comfortable breastfeeding session. First of all, you need to be sitting or lying comfortably before you start breastfeeding. Second, bring your baby closer to you. Third, you need to get a good latch every time you breastfeed; it’s the only way to make sure that your baby is getting enough milk, and the process doesn’t become painful to you. You can know that your baby has a good latch by seeing signs like her ears moving while swallowing, ½ inch of your breast is in her mouth, you can hear swallowing, there’s no clicking sound while breastfeeding, and baby’s lips are flanged like ‘fish lips’. You can try out positions like cradle, cross-cradle, football hold, side-lying position, laid-back feeding, dangle feeding, carrier position, upright feeding, or koala hold. For twins, you can try out the double football hold, cradle-clutch hold, or the double laid-back position. You can determine that your baby is getting enough milk if she has 6 or more wet diapers, gaining weight every month, and is alert, active, and healthy.

How to get a good latch?

How to get a good latch?

It’s a myth that babies know how to perfectly latch and breastfeed properly. Sure, they are born with a sucking reflex, but latching them correctly on the breasts takes time and lots of trial and error.

The first and foremost step of nursing is establishing a good latch. It’s better for both you and your baby, as she’ll get sufficient milk and you’ll feel little to no discomfort.

I wish I had known a good deal about getting the latch right, because this is where I made a mistake, and it turned out to be very painful. Right after giving birth, the nurse brought my baby to me for his first breastfeeding session. Little did I know that there are certain techniques to get the latch right. Being a young, first-time mum during a pandemic (when there’s no one to help), I just plopped him on the boob, and there he went on, sucking. At first, I thought umm… well, this is not so bad. This is actually easy. But, the second day, it was the day when it all started, the cracked and the sore nipples left me crying in pain every time my bub would start feeding. That’s when I went on a research mission and possibly read everything that is there online, and I wouldn’t wish in a million years for someone to go through what I did.

So, here are few tips and techniques that helped me (and I hope it helps you too!) to get a good latch.

  • First of all, be comfortable. If you’re sitting, then don’t hunch over; that will cause severe back pain in the coming months (another mistake I made).
  • Once you bring your baby closer to you, so she is tummy to tummy. Support your baby’s neck with one hand and hold your breast with the other hand.
  • With the baby’s head tilted slightly back and chinned up, lift her and bring her close to the nipple.
  • Place your thumb above the upper part of the areola, and your index finger should be at the bottom part, where your baby’s chin will be touched, and lightly compress your breast.
  • Now, gently tickle her upper lip with your nipple. At this time, she will open her mouth wide (as if yawning).
  • Bring her closer to your breast without pushing or forcefully inserting your breast in her mouth. She will take the nipple and the areola in her mouth.
  • Your baby’s lips will be flanged outward like ‘fish lips’, with her tongue between the lower gum and the areola.

She may not get the entire areola in her mouth, especially if you have a large areola, and that’s okay, as long as she has a good part of it in her mouth. Make sure that she isn’t just sucking the nipple; otherwise, it’ll create a huge discomfort and painful for you.

Remember, it’s not supposed to hurt while breastfeeding. If you have sore nipples, it means that she hasn’t latched on properly. Don’t worry, insert your pinky finger from the corner of her mouth and detach her, and try to latch her again. Latch and unlatch as many times as you want, till you get a good latch.

How to know if your baby has a good latch?

To see whether your baby has a good latch while breastfeeding, look for these signs-

  • You can see your baby’s lips as they are turned outward instead of tightly tucked inward.
  • Your baby has a good mouthful of your breast and is tightly sealed.
  • While sucking and swallowing, you’ll be able to see your baby’s ears move, which indicates a strong and efficient sucking reflex.
  • About 1-inch radius of the areola is in your baby’s mouth.
  • You can hear your baby swallowing.
  • Your baby’s cheeks get fuller and not caving in during sucking.
  • You don’t see milk being leaked from the corners of baby’s mouth.
  • Lastly, you don’t head clicking sounds. If you do then your baby’s tongue is not positioned correctly, and she hasn’t latched correctly.

Things to remember before you start breastfeeding

  • Get comfortable. Get as many pillows you want for back support, and try to keep one on your lap.
  • Have a bottle of water near you. Breastfeeding mothers tend to get thirsty often (so true!).
  • Get yourself some snacks, and keep the TV remote near you, in case you want to watch something while breastfeeding.
  • Make sure that your baby’s head, shoulder, and hips are in a straight line, no matter which breastfeeding position you try.
  • Before you breastfeed, take a wee because you might take more time than you think.
  • Get a good latch first and stay alert to check occasionally whether anything is not blocking your baby’s airway.

Breastfeeding positions

There is no one perfect breastfeeding position that every mom should follow; rather, there are plenty of different positions that you can try with your baby. The important thing here is that you and your baby should be comfortable in any position you adapt. Knowing different breastfeeding positions will only help you to be versatile, especially when your baby grows or when you’re travelling.

The major breastfeeding positions are –

The Cradle Hold

This is a ‘mummy-to-tummy’ position. It works great if you’re out and about in public breastfeeding. In this position, the baby’s head is resting on the crook of your elbow, and her back is parallel to your inner arm and palm. Her front body should be touching your tummy.

How to hold this position –

  • Sit in an upright position. If at home, then use pillows for back support and you can use a breastfeeding pillow below your arm, or any ordinary pillow can do the same job.
  • To nurse your little one in this cradling position, she should be lying on her side, resting on her shoulders.
  • Neck, shoulder and hips should be in a straight line, with her tummy facing you, to avoid straining her neck.
  • Her head will be on your forearm or elbow and her mouth should be closer to your nipple.
  • When you look at her, you should see her side.

Tip from a fellow mother: If you’re planning to sit on a chair while breastfeeding, make sure that your rest your foot on a stool or prop them up a little bit to avoid leaning forward because this can give you a severe backache.

The Cross-Cradle Hold

Many mums I know prefer the cross-cradle position in the initial days after delivery. This position which is slightly different from the traditional cradle hold helps you to support your baby’s head with your arm, rather than the crook of your elbow.

How to hold this position –

  • Sit in an upright position similar to the cradle position. Prop up enough pillows to avoid scrunching over.
  • If you’re breastfeeding from the left breast, then you should support your baby’s neck with the right hand, and hold your left breast with the left hand. Hold the baby by the opposite hand to the feeding breast (right breast = left arm).
  • The baby’s neck should be supported properly with your thumb and index finger at both sides of the baby’s ears. Your hand should play as the ‘second neck’ for your baby, and your palm resting between the baby’s shoulder blades.
  • Your baby’s body will be resting on the inner arm of your right hand.
  • Bring your baby closer to the nipple and tickle her upper lip with the nipple.
  • Let her mouth open wide and take a mouthful of your nipple with the areola.

The Laid-back hold

The ‘biological nurturing’ position is my go-to position for the majority of the time. It is the best position for new mums, and it helps not only to relax your whole body, but studies also show that it stimulates the baby’s instinctive breastfeeding reflexes. The mom is lying on her back, and the baby is placed on top of your body. It will also be helpful if you practice this position skin-to-skin.

How to hold this position –

  • Lie on your bed or a couch with proper back support, and pillows to support your head. Instead of lying completely, lie semi-reclining on your back.
  • Place her on your chest, with her tummy facing down, and let gravity hold her in place with her body resting along your curves.
  • Let her cheek rests somewhere near your bare chest. Slowly, rub your nipples on her upper lip and let her open her mouth.
  • Remember, to let your baby’s chin touch your breast first, and then her nose.
  • Flex your baby’s hips towards you so that she doesn’t have to turn her head to reach your breast.
  • Make sure to support her body with your arm. Hold your breast with one hand and hold your baby’s thighs or bottom with the other hand, so that her feet are not dangling in the air.

The Side-lying Position

The side-lying breastfeeding position

Truth to be told, I like this position the most whenever I feel lazy or tired after a day’s work. You and your baby can relax together at the same time. Even many mums I know prefer this position, though it takes some time for a few mothers to master this position, many like the side-lying position.

How to hold this position –

  • Lie on your side with pillows supporting your back and under your head.
  • Place your baby parallel to you, belly to belly.
  • Use your free hand to guide your baby towards your breast and keep the arm behind your baby to support her back.  You can also place a pillow or a rolled-up blanket behind your baby’s back to keep her from rolling away.
  • Her ears, shoulder, and hips should be in line, with her hips flexed towards you. Your baby shouldn’t be breastfeeding with her tummy facing the ceiling. It can be quite uncomfortable this way.

The Football hold

Also known as the ‘clutch hold’ or the ‘underarm hold’, this position is best for new mums who had a c-section as there won’t be any pressure on the abdomen. Most newborns like this position where the baby is held snugly under your arm, and also if you have forceful let-down; the baby can handle the flow easily.

How to hold this position –

  • Sit propped up in a chair or on your bed.
  • Place your baby to your side with their legs tucked under the arm, closest to your breast.
  • If she’s feeding on your right breast, then your right hand will support her back and her neck.

Though at times, I found the football hold to be a comfortable position, I did need pillows to support my back and kept one under my arm. So that baby’s mouth matches the level of my breast.

Upright breastfeeding or Koala hold

Upright breastfeeding or Koala hold

This has become a comfortable position for many mothers, once their babies have grown a bit. The upright hold is where the baby is propped up on your leg sitting, so although this position is best for kids who can sit unaided, you can also try with newborns but with sufficient support to their neck and their back. This position also works well with babies having acid reflux or an ear infection, tongue-tie or low muscle tone.

How to hold this position –

  • Sit with a pillow supporting your back.
  • Place your baby on your thigh with her legs on both sides of your thigh.
  • Support their neck with your palm.
  • With your other hand, support your baby’s hips or lower back and bring her closer to your breast.

Dangle feeding

Dangle feeding position

I knew a mum who swore by this breastfeeding position whenever she had a clogged duct, and her breasts were too sore even to touch. You and I both know how much clogged milk ducts can hurt, and it can slowly start mastitis if not treated at the earliest, and if there’s a position that claims to somewhat relieve you from it, then why not! Let’s try it.

In recent times, I came across so many mothers who would adopt this unconventional position at least once a day, whenever their breasts became too full. I think they would let the gravity do its magic, although there’s no scientific evidence to support this yet. You can also dangle feed your baby while sitting or kneeling up over your baby on the couch, and even lying down by propping up yourself on your arm. Make sure to use pillows to support you so that you don’t put unnecessary strain on your neck and shoulder.

How to hold this position –

  • Lay your baby on a flat surface- the couch or the floor.
  • Crouch over top your baby on all fours.
  • Use as many cushions as you want.
  • Let your breast hang and bring it closer to your baby’s mouth.

Breastfeeding in a sling/carrier

I think this position comes handy when you’re busy doing something else, like working, doing a chore, out in public or even while looking after an older kid. But, this position is recommended only to experience breastfed babies who also have good neck control.

This position may take a little practice in the beginning, but hey! Great way to be discreet if you’re in public or if you’re baby doesn’t like to be put down for feeds.

How to hold this position –

  • Place your baby in a ring sling, or stretchy wraps, or even front carriers.
  • Let your baby latch on to your nipple properly.
  • Encourage them to lean their cheek on your chest.
  • Keep an eye on them so that their airway is not blocked or their chin is not pressed up against their chest.

Breastfeeding position if you have twins

Breastfeeding position if you have twins

Doctors recommend that you breastfeed your twins separately, especially during the early days so that you can focus on each baby and create a bond with them. You can also track each breastfeeding sessions, poop and the number of diapers that your babies used, on your mobile. With time as you get confident, you can try different breastfeeding positions to feed your twins simultaneously and see what works best and is comfortable for the three of you.

Double Football hold

This position is for mums who have twins. Similar to the Football hold, in Double Football hold, you will support both of your babies within the web of your palm. The babies will be snuggled under both of your arms, with their neck, shoulder and hips in a straight line.

You can also use special breastfeeding pillows designed to support the twins, while giving extra support and also applying less pressure on your abdomen, especially if you’ve has a c-section. With the help of the pillow, you’ll find your hands to be freer and you can tend to one baby while not disrupting the other.

Cradle-Clutch hold

If you’re trying this position for the first time, then it’s better to have a helping hand for the first few times to get the hang of it.

Place one of the twins tucked against you in a cradle position while the other snuggled under your arm. Try the cradle position for the twin who has a better latch, and if 0ne of the baby has latching trouble, then try latching her first.

Double laid-back position

This is great for the exhausted mums, and I have no doubt that looking after not one but two of them can be very stressful and tiring. So, you can try out this breastfeeding position and see if it works for you.

Trying the biological nursing has the same benefit as it does for breastfeeding one baby. Babies who have trouble with deep latching can latch easily with this position.

Lie on your back with pillows for support. Place your babies on your chest, tummy to tummy, and just as the laid-back position, let them latch.

How to know if your baby is getting sufficient milk

How to know if your baby is getting sufficient milk

For the first three months after my delivery, I have always been worried sick thinking whether I have sufficient milk supply or whether my baby is getting enough milk or is he starving.

What I learned is baby’s diapers can perfectly indicate whether your baby is getting sufficient milk or not. But a thing to remember is, the first few days your baby only gets colostrum which is concentrated, so that she may have only one or two wet diapers. The milk comes in 3 or 4 days after you give birth.

Your baby is getting enough milk if she shows the following signs –

  • 6 or more wet diapers per day.
  • Two or more seedy and yellow poop per day.
  • She seems alert and active when awake.
  • She feeds 8 to 12 times a day.
  • She is gaining weight every month and is double her weight by the time she is 6 months of age.

Conclusion

All in all, there are many different breastfeeding positions out there that you can try and test with your baby. You don’t have to get tensed or worry if you’re not able to do a particular breastfeeding position or are not comfortable with it. Know that it’s completely alright for you to be comfortable with a single breastfeeding position and stick to it.

Experiment with different types of holds until you find ‘the one’, and if you’re still having trouble breastfeeding, then consult a Lactation consultant soon and sort your worries out.

Meanwhile, mamas, comment down below and let us know which is yours and your baby’s favorite breastfeeding position.

And Mamas, Hang in there!

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