When you finally bring your bundle of joy into the world, the first thing to figure out is how to breastfeed. Several positions are known to be easy and healthy ways to breastfeed. These positions may take some time to get used to, but once they are mastered, they will become second nature to you.
Patience and coordination are important during breastfeeding. It takes practice to figure out which works best for you and your baby. It is worth the effort in the end, especially since you will be spending hours breastfeeding your baby every day.
The different holding positions have their own benefits and uses. All of them are supportive for both you and your baby, and you should stick to these positions while breastfeeding.
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Making sure that your baby is latching properly is important for breastfeeding. It all depends on how your baby is positioned. Improper latching can cause pain and unnecessarily low milk supply. The following is the proper way to get your baby to latch on.
1. When your baby is in position, take your breast with your free hand.
2. Place your thumb above the nipple and the areola where your baby’s nose will touch your breast. Have your index finger where your baby’s chin will touch.
3.Compress your breast lightly, shaping it to resemble your baby’s mouth.
4. Bring your baby to your breast; stroke his cheek to cause him to root. Tickle his lips with your nipple to open his mouth wide.
5. Bring him to the breast quickly and allow him to take your areola and nipple into his mouth.
6. A proper latch looks like your baby’s chin and the tip of his nose are touching your breast. His lips will also be flanged out instead of tucked in.
7. Once you get the proper latch, let feeding begin. It should happen naturally.
Poor latching can happen at any time. It is likely that it will occur at least once during breastfeeding. There are signs that your baby is not latched properly, so you will know. The way to unlatch your baby during feeding is to break the suction by putting your finger into the corner of his mouth. You should hear a quiet ‘pop’ that indicates unlatching.
- Nipple pain means that your baby is probably chewing instead of gumming the areola. You never want any pain during breastfeeding unless your nipples are already sore, which tends to happen. To fix the problem, unlatch your baby and try it again.
- Clicking noises can mean that your baby is just sucking on your nipple. Just unlatch and try again.
- Grabbing onto any part of the breast in eagerness can leave a painful bruise on a tender part of your breast. All it takes is unlatching and trying again to get it right.
6 Holding Positions
1. The Cradle Hold
- This is a standard position that requires you to cradle your baby’s head in your arm. By sitting in a supportive and comfortable chair and resting your feet up, you help to avoid leaning toward your baby.
- Hold your baby in your lap or on a pillow in your lap. Make sure he is lying on his side with his face, knees, and stomach facing you directly. Tuck his lower arm under your own.
- If he is nursing on the right breast, let him rest his head in the crook of your right arm.
- Extend your forearm and hand down his back, supporting his neck, bottom, and spine.
- Secure his knees against your body. This can be either across or just below your left breast. He should be lying at a slight angle.
- This position works best for full-term, vaginally delivered babies. This hold may also be better for when your baby develops stronger neck muscles.
2. The Clutch or Football/Rugby Hold
- Consider the name and know that holding your baby under your arm while breastfeeding is an acceptable position.
- First, you will want to position your baby at your side and under your arm. He should be facing you with his nose level with your nipple and his feet pointing towards your back.
- With a pillow in your lap or beside you, rest your arm and support your baby’s shoulders, head, and neck with your hand.
- Guide him to your nipple chin-first, using a C-hold.
- Do not let him get too close so that he does not resist or arch his head against your hand. Support his upper back with your forearm.
- Best for if you had a Cesarean section. This is also good if your baby is small 0r has trouble latching on.
- Also ideal for large breasts, flat nipples, or breastfeeding twins.
3. The Cross-Over Hold or Cross-Cradle Hold
- With this position, your arms switch roles from the cradle hold. You also do not support your baby’s head with the crook of your arm.
- If you are nursing from your right breast, hold your baby with your left arm and hand. Rotate his body so that his tummy and chest are directly facing you. Guide his mouth to your breast with your thumb and finger behind and below his ears.
- This position is best for small babies and infants who have issues latching on.
4. Twins Hold/Laid Back
- If you have twins, this position is super helpful.
- The twins hold is just like the Clutch hold, but doubled.
- The laid back position allows for two babies to nurse as well.
5. Reclining Position
- You can nurse while lying in bed. Lay on your side with tons of pillows for support and make sure that your back and hips are in a straight line.
- With your baby facing you, bring him close and cradle his head with the hand of your bottom arm. You can also cradle his head with your top arm by tucking your bottom one under your head and out of the way.
- If he needs more head support, place a small pillow or folded blanket under his head. He should not have to strain to reach your nipple, and you should not lean down towards him. You may have to lift your breast, fingers underneath, so he can comfortably reach.
- Laying like this is good for Cesarean recovery or a after a difficult delivery. It is also good for nursing in bed whenever the mood strikes. During the day or at night, nursing in bed can be comfortable, and you can also sleep with your baby after feeding him.
6. Koala Hold/Saddle Position
- This position consists of supporting your baby while he is straddled across your knees in an upright position.
- This hold is good for babies that can support their own heads and want to look around. For easy feeding, sit your baby on top of something if he does not line up with your nipple.
4 Tips for Any Position
The following are general tips for positioning while breastfeeding. Keep them in mind while preparing for a session. Ensure that maximum comfort and relaxation are available for both you and the baby.
Having ample support all around is essential for breastfeeding. This does not just apply to a support system of people that is there to help you out. You should support your body and your baby while breastfeeding to ensure comfort and efficient feeding.
Support is important for you, your breasts, and your baby. It can get uncomfortable if the right support system is not in place.
- Use lots of pillows! They help to support your back and arms where couches and other chairs do not do the trick. Some under your feet is good, too. Be sure that you are bringing your baby to the breast and not bringing your breast to the baby.
- There are all kinds of maternity pillows and breastfeeding supports. These pillows and supports are specially designed for breastfeeding and can alleviate discomfort.
- Your breasts are most likely bigger and heavier than they ever were before your baby. You should support your breasts as well during breastfeeding. This can help to prevent pain and discomfort during feeding.
- There are two different ways you can hold your breast while breastfeeding. The C-hold, which was mentioned earlier, and the V-hold, are both good ways to support your breast.
- A C-hold is using four fingers underneath the breast at 9 o’clock and your thumb at 3 o’clock.
- A V-hold is supporting your breast between your splayed index and middle fingers.
- Both of these holds will suffice in supporting your breast while your baby feeds.
- There are pillows that can help to support your breasts during feedings. You will still need to hold your breasts with your hand, but pillows will provide some nice support for your breasts, especially the breast that is not being used.
- Supporting your baby is just as important as supporting yourself. It will keep him happy while nursing. Support your baby’s neck, head, back, and hips by keeping him in a straight line. Swaddling or gentle holding is also helpful.
- Vary Routine
- Finding a routine that works can take a little time. It takes experimentation and practice to know what works best. By using different positions, you can alleviate sore nipples and avoid getting plugged ducts.
- Switching breasts that your baby feeds on first can help to boost milk production.
- Keep yourself centered and relaxed before breastfeeding. You can keep a glass of cool water, milk, or juice next to you to keep you hydrated. Hydration is important for milk production, and it can also be nice to have a refreshing drink nearby if you get thirsty.
- Your baby will decide for himself when he is ready to stop feeding. Ideally, this is when he has drained one or both breasts.
- If you need to change positions or end feeding for any reason, gently insert your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth. A ‘pop’ sound means that you have broken the suction and can pull him away safely.
Poor Breastfeeding Positions
The following ways are not ideal for breastfeeding. They can cause discomfort or improper feeding. Not being ideal for breastfeeding, they should be avoided.
- Do not hunch over your baby. You should be bringing him to your breast, not your breast to him. Making your baby strain to reach you is not ideal. You want to be as comfortable as him, so hunching over is not good. Your back will not appreciate the strain, and you will be in pain.
- Do not allow your baby’s head to go in a different direction than his body. It will be difficult for your baby to drink with his head to the side, so keeping him straight is important. If he isn’t straight, it will be uncomfortable and could cause problems.
- Do not let your baby’s body be too far away. He might pull on your nipple during feeding which does no good for either of you. It will hurt, and your baby will not be getting the milk that he needs.
Breastfeeding in the proper position is critical to comfortable and efficient feeding. If you use a position that is not good for feeding, problems can arise. Your baby can hurt himself trying to nurse if he is not doing it right.
Keep these positions in mind and experiment a little. The best way to find what works for you is to try out each position. When you do find what works, you will still want to mix it up every once in a while. Variety is good for keeping things fresh.
As long as your baby is latching correctly and you are in a good position, breastfeeding should be a breeze. The ideal breastfeeding situation is comfortable and easy to get in and out of. Your time bonding with your baby and nourishing him is important for development.