One of the most intimate moments that you and your baby will share will probably be when you’re breastfeeding it. This one-on-one time is precious and is instrumental in the development of a strong emotional bond between mother and child. But as important and simple as it might seem, breastfeeding can be particularly difficult for first-time mothers who aren’t familiar with the finer details of how to hold their babies. Read on to learn more about the different positions that you can use to breastfeed your baby comfortably.
The cradle, or cuddle, hold is usually used for 1+-month-old babies with strong neck muscles who can move their heads easily, and is best for mothers who have had a normal vaginal delivery rather than a C-section, as the position can put pressure on the abdomen. When using the cradle hold, sit up straight and make sure that your arm is propped, as your baby’s head will be supported in the crook of your elbow. You can use your chair’s armrest to support your arm or place a pillow on your lap if you’re sitting on your bed.
• If your baby is nursing on the right breast, rest its head in the crook of your right arm and make sure that its mouth is directly in front of your nipple.
• Extend your forearm and hand down your baby’s back to support its neck, spine, and bottom.
• Secure your baby’s knees against your body below your left breast, and tuck its lower arm around your waist.
• Make sure that your baby is laying horizontally, with its body forming a straight line from its ear to its shoulder to its hip.
The cross-cradle, or transverse, hold is a great position for newborns and small babies that have trouble latching onto the breast, because it offers you greater control over your baby’s head and you can see the position of its mouth more clearly. Make sure that you’re sitting straight in a comfortable chair with armrests, or have your arms propped comfortable with a pillow or two.
• Hold your baby in the arm opposite your breast, with its body turned towards you. This means left arm for right breast and vice versa. Make sure that your baby is at the same level as your breast.
• Support your baby’s torso and head with your forearm and palm, and cradle your baby close to your breast.
• Guide your baby’s mouth to your breast, making sure that your thumb and fingers are placed behind its head and below its ears for greater control.
Also known as the football hold, the clutch hold is good if you’ve had a C-section, are nursing two babies simultaneously, have large breasts, or have flat nipples. This hold also offers greater control over your baby’s head, enabling it to latch on properly. As its name suggests, in this hold you will be positioning your baby under your arm like a football or handbag.
• Position your baby at your side and under your arm with your elbow bent. Make sure your baby’s nose is at the same level of your nipple and tuck its feet behind you.
• Place a pillow either in your lap or beside you, and rest your arm on it and support your baby's shoulders, neck, and head with your hand.
• Use your palm to support your baby's head, and face it toward your breast. Your baby's back will rest on your forearm.
Use the side-lying, or reclining, hold when sitting up is uncomfortable, you’re recovering from a C-section, or you’ve had a difficult delivery and are tired. You can also use it when nursing in bed at night. You might want to place several pillows behind your back for support. Some women prefer to place a pillow under their head and shoulders, and another one between their knees in order to keep their back and hips in a straight line.
• While lying on your side, have your baby face you and cradle its head with your top arm, tucking your bottom arm under your head and out of the way.
• The nipple of your lower breast should be opposite your baby’s mouth. Place a pillow under your baby if it needs to be higher and closer to your breast. You can also place a pillow or blanket behind your baby’s back to stop it from rolling onto its back.