• Six Basic Breastfeeding Positions, Step by Step

    Check out our gallery of breastfeeding positions and get expert advice from breastfeeding counselor, Abbie Yabot.
    by Abigail L. Vernida-Yabot .
  • Breastfeeding is perfectly natural. However, you and your baby won’t learn all by yourselves. You’ll have to study how to properly latch on and position your baby to avoid any kind of pain or discomfort when breastfeeding. Below are some basic breastfeeding positions to help you get started.
     
    Cradle Hold
    This is the classic and most basic position. Moms instinctively hold their babies this way. However, it may not be the easiest hold.
     
    Step by Step Procedure:
    1. Sit in a chair that has supportive armrests or on a bed with lots of pillows.  If you are sitting on a chair, rest your feet on a stool, making your lap slightly inclined, letting the baby roll towards mom. If you don’t have a stool, a stack of books will do.  If you are on the bed, put a pillow under your knees for more support. Position your feet comfortably. Rest them on a stool or a stack of books so that your knees are slightly inclined, letting baby roll towards you.

    2. Put your baby’s nape in the crook of your arm and that same hand supporting his buttocks. 

    3. Face the baby’s tummy towards your tummy.

    4. With your free hand, hold your breast in a “c” position and offer the breast and gently squeeze parallel to the baby’s mouth.
     
    5. Wait for your baby to open his mouth wide, as if he is yawning.  If he is not opening his mouth wide, use your pinky finger to tickle the side of the baby’s mouth. If he still does not open his mouth wide, apply slight pressure on your baby’s chin.

    6. When his mouth is wide open, guide your baby to your breast to get as much breast tissue into the mouth as possible (read: areola and not just nipple).  Remember to bring your baby up to your breast and don’t lean forward to avoid back pain.

    7. When your baby’s suckling has relaxed, you may release the “c” hold at the breast and transfer your hand towards the buttocks or back of the baby

    8. Support yourself and your baby with a lot of pillows and relax your arms.
     
    Important Reminders:
    -Make sure to relax your shoulders. You will be in this position for a while so it’s important for you not to be stressed or cramped in any way.

    -Your baby’s lips should be pouting outwards (i.e. fish lips).

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    -To avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, when your baby is comfortably latched on, relax your main support hand and arm and have a pillow support your hand and arm. 

    Cross Cradle Hold
    This is also known as cross-over hold. If your main arm is tired from a cradle hold, switch arms to rest without changing your baby’s position.
     
    Step by Step Procedure:
    -Sit in a chair that has supportive armrests or on a bed with lots of pillows.  If in a chair, rest your feet on a stool making your lap slightly inclined, letting baby roll closer to mom.  If you are on a bed, put a pillow under your knees for more support.

    -Hold your baby in the cradle position, then, with your free arm, hold the head of your baby while supporting his body and buttocks with the length of your arm.  Make sure that your baby’s tummy is facing your tummy.

    -Use your other hand to support your baby’s head or if you’re too tired from nursing in the cradle position, stretch and turn your shoulders around.  If baby your baby is unlatched, use this hand to hold the breast in a “c” position.Repeat steps 4 to 8 of the cradle position. 

    Inclined Position

    This position is best for newborn babies when mom needs the most support. It’s also best for moms who gave birth via Caesarian section since she can be totally on her back. It’s important to note that mom needs a lot of support for this.
     
    Step by Step Procedure:
    -Mommy should be fully reclined and on her back for this position.

    -Partner should position baby on top of mommy, in an inclined position. Remember that baby should be tummy to tummy with mommy.

    -Partner should support the baby’s back, neck and head with his hands and with pillows.

    -Mommy can use a free hand to hold her breast in a “c” position and offer her to baby to suckle. 

    Football Hold or Clutch Hold 
    Football or clutch hold gives mom good visibility of baby’s mouth and latch.

    As the name of position suggests, you should be holding your baby like a clutch or a football. This position is best used for moms who delivered via Caesarian section, for preemies, babies below 6 lbs. and for twins. Mom can also use this position for a baby who has a hard time latching since she can maintain good visibility with the baby’s mouth. In this position, mom and baby have good eye contact.
     
    Step by Step:
    -For this position, it is best to be at the head of a bed (or near the head rest of the bed). If you want to try this with a chair, make sure that it has a back rest since mommy has to lean forward a bit to give way to baby’s legs. Put a pillow on the side where baby will breastfeed.

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    -Position baby at this side, under your arm.  Baby should be facing mommy’s body and whole face should be seen.  Baby’s nose is level with the nipple and feet are pointing towards the back.

    -Once baby feels the nipple on his nose, baby should instinctively raise head up, open mouth and latch on to the nipple. Mommy’s free hand may be used to hold the breast in “c” position or to tickle baby’s mouth.  Once baby is latched on, free hand may be relaxed. 

    Side Lying Position  
    Using the side lying position ensures a good night’s sleep for mommy, daddy and baby
    In this position, mommy can relax and nap while nursing baby. This position is usually used for babies over 6 weeks old. Before that, a pillow may be used to prop your baby up. You can enlist the support of your partner to prop mommy and baby properly with pillows.
     
    Step by Step:
    -Under the pillow (best for sleeping)

    -On top of the pillow supporting baby’s head (good for watching the baby)

    -Or Supporting the baby’s body, like hugging the baby (good for smaller babies to raise the baby higher)

    -Mommy should lie on the side where she will breastfeed.  Someone can assist by placing a pillow on her back and between her legs. Upper arm of mommy can be:

    -Put baby on the side facing mommy and support his back with a bolster pillow or rolled towels or blankets.  If baby is too small, prop baby on top of a pillow. Make sure that baby and mommy are in a tummy to tummy position and that when they both relax, the pillows are enough to hold this position without rolling backwards.

    -Wait for baby to open mouth wide before latching. Upper hand of mom may be used to gently massage the baby or hold the baby’s back. 

    Saddle Hold
    This position is best for babies who can sit up and have good head control. It’s also best for those who have ear infections or runny nose. Using this hold relaxes both hands of mom. For bigger babies, moms can breastfeed hands-free and do other things while nursing.
     
    Step by Step Procedure:
    -Mommy should be sitting comfortable in a chair.Straddle baby on mommy’s leg on the side where she is about to nurse.

    -Check the head level of baby.  Nipple should be the same level as baby’s nose.  Raise legs on a stool or stack of books if baby is too low. If baby is too high, mommy should recline slightly.

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    -Offer the breast in “c” hold and relax when baby is suckling well.

    -Use the different breastfeeding positions or holds to suit you and your baby’s needs. Cradle hold is what you normally see breastfeeding moms do. Use this position when you’ve gotten the hang of breastfeeding. Use the cross cradle hold as an alternative to the cradle hold when your arms are tired.

    The inclined position is best for newborn babies or for moms who have had a Caesarian section. This position will need a lot of support from a partner or care giver. The football or clutch hold helps a mom get good visibility of her baby’s latch and is the best position for making sure that baby is getting the areola in his mouth (and not just the nipple!). It’s also ideal for preemies and babies under 6 lbs. as well as twins.

    The side lying position is ideal for nap time and night time when both mom and baby need their rest. This position should be used when the baby is over six weeks old.  Lastly, the saddle hold is ideal for older babies who can already hold up their heads (and have better head control). This position also frees up mommy’s hands for other things that she would like to do
     

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