There are a number of positions to feed your baby. You might have to go through a few of them before you figure out which one is most comfortable for you. But it is your baby that is being breastfed, and an important factor to consider is if your baby is comfortable in the position you are holding it during feeding time.
You may need to know and practice a few positions, as you may require different ones as your baby grows older. As your baby grows, both in length and in weight, they may require feeding positions that were different from what was being used earlier.
A comfortable position ensures a good feed for your baby while also ensuring you are comfortable. Remember, feeding can take up some of your time, and you may not be able to get up from the seat or bed you are in for some time. Get everything you need – this may range from a drink or snack to a magazine or TV remote. It is also a good idea to relieve yourself.
The next thing to make sure of is that your baby is comfortable. Your baby’s head, neck, and spine should not be twisted, and overall, your baby should be stable and supported. You should be as comfortable as possible too. Use pillows, cushions, or even rolled-up towels to ensure that you support your back or arms if needed.
Listed below are five of the most comfortable breastfeeding positions. Try these and see how comfortable both you and your baby feel.
If you are a new mother, or this is your second time as a mother, this is the first position you will try. New mothers meet their babies for the first time, lying down or propped up against pillows after harrowing labor. Doctors, nurses, and people who have experienced parenthood before insist that this is the best position to start from.
There are two different ways to feed in the reclining position. The first one is quite simple. You lie down close to your baby and hold it close to your chest so that it can latch on to your breast. Depending on the baby’s age, you might need to prop the baby’s head up while feeding. Newborns usually feed using this position.
The mother holds the baby’s head close to her breast while feeding. The skin-to-skin contact that comes from proximity to the mother is essential for newborn babies. They are still hazy about their new environment and the warmth they experience when close to their mother helps them.
Another way in which you can use the reclining position is when you are lying against pillows and your baby is lying against your chest. This is especially helpful for moms who have large breasts. Sometimes, babies find it difficult to latch on because of the size of the nipple. It is easier if the mother holds the baby to her in this case. This position, where you are reclining against support, is also more comfortable for you than lying on your side during feeding.
The third type of reclined position is lying on your side during feeding. This becomes the go-to position, especially during nighttime feeds. The mother lies down, turns to her side, lays the baby on the side, and feeds it. As the baby grows older, you can use your arm as a pillow for the baby to rest its head on during feeding.
You might want to prop yourself up on your elbow during feeding, and that could get uncomfortable, given how long babies take to feed. We recommend using pillows or cushions to support your back, neck, and arms while feeding in the reclined position.
This position is the go-to position for most moms after the initial hiccups with holding the baby. The cradle hold is what we see in pictures about breastfeeding as well. In this position, the mother sits upright and holds the baby in her arms during feeding. The baby is positioned on its side, with its head and neck on the mother’s forearm.
The baby’s body is close to the mother’s palm, and the mother holds the baby close to her stomach. This is called the tummy-to-mummy position. This is a popular position because mothers use it to feed even when they are in public places and even while traveling.
The best way to ensure that you do not have any pain during breastfeeding in this position is to use an armchair that provides ample support for your arm and back. Pay particular attention to whether you are slouching or leaning forward because this could strain your muscles.
You can also use a breastfeeding pillow to support you or your baby. The baby should not be at a raised height because your nipples can get sore from not being at a natural resting height. If the baby is at a low height, you can experience a strained latch and thus strained breasts that can become painful.
A different hold, called the cross-cradle, is another version of this position. Here, the baby lies along the opposite forearm, and you use your free hand to hold and lift the baby’s head so that there is no strained latch. This is usually an excellent position to use if your baby has trouble latching. This becomes the preferred position when your baby grows a little bigger.
The football hold
This is also known as the underarm hold. This is great for those who have undergone a C-section and cannot sit for a long time with the propped up on the arm. This position uses a feeding pillow. Keep the pillow by your side. Lay the baby on the pillow, and support it with your arm. The baby’s feet will be towards the back of your chair. You can use a rolled-up towel to support your breast while your baby feeds. This position is also especially useful for those mothers whose breasts are large and heavy. In this position, the baby is not overwhelmed by the size of the breasts and does not have to latch on in the same way as they do when you are in the reclining position. Mothers who have twins also use the double football hold while feeding simultaneously. Those who have inverted or flat nipples can also use this position to minimize the strain on breasts during feeding.
Sitting baby position
This position works when the baby can hold itself upright. They can breastfeed in a sitting position. You can use this position when traveling or in a public place and have to use the trial room in a store or a dedicated breastfeeding room. Some babies enjoy the freedom this position affords.
This is also called the upright breastfeeding position. This is because the baby is sitting on your thigh while you are sitting up, your back resting against the back of a chair or bench. This is especially useful when your baby is suffering from an ear infection or if it tends to throw up while feeding. If your baby also suffers from a latching problem, this position helps with latching.
As this is also called, the koala position helps you to feed comfortably even when you are using public transport. It is discreet, and your baby is not unusually uncomfortable because of the restricted space we encounter in public transport.
Babies accustomed to this position find it easy to feed even when they are in a sling. The best slings for carrying your baby if you intend to carry them for a long time are stretchy wraps, front carriers, and the quintessentially Indian ring sling.
Dancer hand position
This comes in handy in combination with any of the positions discussed before. This is for those babies who have a problem with latching on because of low muscle tone. This could be because of any of the following reasons- Down’s Syndrome, premature birth, cleft lip, or even an illness.
The dancer position is where you use your hand to cup your breast with the little ring and middle fingers while your index finger and thumb support your baby’s chin, like a U. This is great for your baby because it gets the required support and you can also control how close or far the baby’s mouth is during feeding.
According to what works best for them and their babies, there are many other positions that mothers use. Whichever position you choose, remember the following tips.
- Always have extra support. This can be in the form of an armrest, pillows, a rolled-up blanket, a feeding pillow, a table even. This is because you will be sitting for a while, multiple times during the day, to feed your baby. Having no support will lead to aches and sometimes chronic back problems, especially after a C-section.
- Choosing a dedicated feeding area. Although many people will laugh at the idea of a feeding area that carries all the comforts you require, having a dedicated space can work wonders. First of all, it gives you the peace and quiet that you require when feeding. Some babies do not feed well when distracted and can fuss a lot. Your feeding area will contain a comfortable chair, enough support, and even the right kind of lighting that helps you and your baby bond during feeding time. It also helps the little one relax so it can sleep properly.
- Stretch or massage to relax your neck and shoulders. As much as people see it as the mother’s duty to breastfeed and be the baby’s primary caretaker, moms also need some pampering. After every breastfeeding session, make sure you stretch so that your neck, shoulders, and arms are not hunched up. You can also set a routine where your husband gives you a quick message after breastfeeding.
- Support the breast. After childbirth, breasts grow and can get heavy, especially when lactating. Ensure you support your breasts during feeding so that there is no strain, and the baby can also latch on easily.
- Choose a comfortable position. Although everyone offering suggestions has your best interests in mind, you know what is working best for your body and your baby. So, make those decisions based on your experience.
As with everything that comes with motherhood, breastfeeding positions are largely based on trial and error. You will be able to determine what is best for you and your baby as the days go by.