Breastfeeding: Positioning 101

How do I hold my baby to breastfeed?

Positioning can help promote successful breastfeeding and help prevent nipple soreness. There are a number of different positions to try. We suggest you use more than one position to stimulate and empty the different parts of your breast, especially if you are experiencing areas of fullness or pain.

When deciding how to position the baby at your breast, you should start with whatever position you feel most confident and comfortable using. Eventually, you can try new holds and positions as feedings get easier. No matter which position you use, always be sure that you and your baby are in a comfortable, relaxed position. Use pillows to support your arms and back. Your baby should be level with the breast and should not have to turn their head or reach out to latch on to your nipple.

Think of yourself as a queen on the throne: you should sit back and bring your baby to you. No leaning in to feed your baby; it won’t be comfortable for either of you! Back support is a must for ideal comfort and you can create it by placing a pillow behind your shoulders, back and neck. A footstool will also help you to relax in a comfortable position. The angle of the stool helps to alleviate pressure on your lower back when you are sitting for extended periods of time.


Follow the steps below to be sure you are offering your breast correctly to your baby when you begin breastfeeding:


1.Touch your baby’s lips with your nipple to start the rooting reflex. Some babies may lick the nipple a few times at the start. Don’t move your breast or the baby.

2. When your baby opens their mouth, quickly and firmly bring their mouth up onto your breast, chin first. (The lower jaw and lip should touch your breast first, followed by the upper lip.)

3. Makes sure that both of baby’s lips are rolled outward to form a seal. Your baby’s tongue should be beneath your breast and above their lower gum.

A correct latch means that your breast fills baby’s mouth. Their chin should press into your breast. Their nose may touch lightly on your breast, but should be open to allow baby to breathe freely. In some cases, you may need to support your breast from beneath so its weight does not rest on your baby’s chin or make the nipple fall out of your baby’s mouth.


Try these different positions to stimulate milk production and fully empty the breast:


The Cross-Cradle Position

1. Place a pillow on your lap to raise baby to the level of your breast.

2. To feed from your right breast, hold baby along your left arm.

3. Use your left hand to support their head.

4. Create a “U” shape with your right hand and lift your right breast from underneath.

5. Touch baby’s lips to your nipple.

6. Wait for baby’s mouth to form a big “O” shape.

7. Latch baby onto your breast.

8. Reverse this position for the left breast.

The Football or Clutch Position

1. Use a pillow or two at your side to raise baby to the level of your breast.

2. Lay baby on their side on the pillow. They should be facing you.

3. Support their back with your forearm and make sure your hand supports baby’s head.

4. Snuggle close to baby with your breast directly in front of their mouth.

5. Using your free hand, lift your breast from underneath and touch baby’s lips to your nipple. (Opposite hand, opposite breast.)

6. Wait for baby’s mouth to for a big “O” shape. Latch baby onto your breast. Relax.

The Cradle Position

1. Position your baby facing you, lying on their side, with baby’s tummy to your tummy.

2. Use pillows to support baby at the level of your breast.

3. Support baby’s head and body with your forearm. To feed baby from your right breast, support baby with your right arm. Your hand can grasp baby’s bottom or thigh.

4. With your free hand, lift your breast from below with fingers behind the areola.

5. Touch baby’s lips to your nipple and pull baby in close for a deep latch.

The Side-Lying Position

1.Rest comfortably on your side, supporting your head, back and knees with pillows.

2. Lay baby on their side next to you and facing you.

3. Baby’s face should be level with your nipple and areola.

4. Use your free hand to support and offer the breast that is on the bottom.

5. Wait for a big “O” and smoosh baby toward the breast.

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