New to nursing? You may need to try a few breastfeeding positions before finding one that works best for you and baby. Medela Canada gave us 10 positions you can try
Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of humankind, but any mom who’s nursed knows that it doesn’t always come naturally. There can be struggles to latch, lactation consultants on speed dial and tears of frustration. But according to Medela Canada, there are many ways to hold and feed your baby. Knowing a few different breastfeeding positions and techniques can be helpful because life often requires us to be versatile, especially as baby gets bigger. Medela describes 10 positions parents can try.
Laid-back breastfeeding or reclined position
This is often the first position moms try. If baby is placed on your chest or tummy as soon as he’s born, he’ll instinctively work his way towards one of your breasts and attempt to latch on—this is known as the breast crawl. Skin-to-skin contact helps stimulate his feeding instincts, while gravity helps him to latch on well and keeps him in place. Laid-back breastfeeding works with babies of any age. Pro: If you’ve had a c-section, reclining with your baby’s body across your shoulder will let you nurse comfortably without any weight or pressure on your wound. Tip: Try this if baby struggles to latch in other holds, he doesn’t like his head being touched as he feeds, if you have a forceful letdown, or if your breasts are large. Use cushions or pillows so you’re supported and can see your baby.
Sit upright, with baby positioned on his side, his head and neck laying along your forearm and his body against your stomach, in a tummy-to-mommy position. Tip: A pillow or cushion behind you and a breastfeeding pillow across your lap propping up baby or your arms may give you more support, and avoid strain on your back or shoulders. Make sure the pillow doesn’t lift baby too high—breasts should remain at natural resting height.
Similar to cradle hold, but baby lies along your opposite forearm. Pro: This position supports baby around his neck and shoulders to allow him to tilt his head prior to latch. This is a great newborn breastfeeding position and is also good for small babies and those with latching difficulties. Because baby is fully supported on your opposite arm, you have more control over his positioning.
Rugby ball hold
Known as the clutch hold, this position has you sitting with baby resting along your forearm. His body tucks alongside your side, with his feet towards the back of your chair. Pro: This is another helpful early nursing position because it supports baby well, while giving you plenty of control and a good view of his face. Being tucked in closely alongside your body will help baby feel safe too.
Double rugby ball hold
Feed twins in tandem with this position while keeping your hands relatively free. Tip: Try a twin breastfeeding pillow for extra support.
You and baby lie on your sides, belly-to-belly. Pro: Ideal for relaxed night feeds and breastfeeding in bed or on the sofa, side-lying can also be more comfortable than sitting if you’ve had a c-section or stitches.
Upright breastfeeding or koala hold Baby sits upright on your thigh or hip, with his spine and head upright as he feeds. You can do this hold with both a newborn (if you give baby plenty of support) and older baby who can sit unaided. Pro: This position is often the most comfortable breastfeeding position for babies who suffer from reflux or ear infections and it can also work well with babies who have a tongue-tie or low muscle tone.
Lie baby on his back, while you crouch over him on all fours and dangle your nipple in his mouth. Tip: Use cushions and pillows to support yourself so you don’t strain your back or shoulders.
Dancer hand nursing position Try this position if baby struggles to stay latched on or has low muscle tone. Cup the breast with fingers on one side and thumb on the other. Then edge your hand forwards so your thumb and index finger form a ‘U’ shape just in front of the breast. Your three remaining fingers should continue to support the breast underneath. Rest baby’s jaw on your thumb and index finger as he feeds, with his chin at the bottom of the ‘U’, your thumb gently holding one of his cheeks and your index finger the other. Pro: This hold supports baby and gives you control and a view of the latch.
Nursing in a sling This position is convenient for busy moms, or when you’re out and about. It works best if baby is an experienced feeder and can hold his head up by himself. You can breastfeed in all sorts of slings. Tip: Make sure you can always see baby’s face and that his chin is not pressed against his chest.
Every time you feed…
Have a drink, snacks, your phone and a book at the ready Don’t forget to visit the washroom first – you may not be able to get up again for some time!
Make sure baby is comfortable Baby should be stable and supported, while his head, neck and spine should not be twisted.
Ensure you feel relaxed Use cushions, pillows or rolled towels to support your back or arms if you need to.
Check baby’s latch It’s vital for comfortable breastfeeding.
If baby is struggling to latch, or if you are in pain, reach out to a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist. They’ll have tips to help you feed more comfortably.