Laid Back Breastfeeding
Sometimes called “biological nurturing”, this position encourages the breastfeeding parent to relax in a laid back or reclined position, with the baby laying on their chest. This positioning allows for optimal contact between the parent’s chest and stomach and the baby’s body. This skin to skin contact is not only wonderful for emotional and physical health, but it aids in the breastfeeding experience. It stimulates natural reflexes within the baby and opens up the breastfeeding parent’s body. Recent studies have found that this breastfeeding positional also significantly reduced latch challenges, sore nipples, and engorgement. This breastfeeding hold may also be beneficial in situations where a baby is overwhelmed by a fast of “overactive” let down.
A variation on the position – Laid Back Breastfeeding after a C-section. In this position the breastfeeding parent would lay back or recline (supported by a chair or pillows if needed) with baby’s legs placed to one side or the other, to avoid pressure on a healing incision.
This position is likely the most familiar or common breastfeeding position. Baby is cradled in the parents arm, with the head facing the side they are feeding on. Baby should be turned completely toward the parent, in a tummy to tummy position. This provides more skin to skin contact and aids in a proper latch. In this position it is important that you remember to use your arms to bring the baby up to the chest, rather than leaning on the baby. Bringing the parents body to the baby can result in discomfort in the neck and back and can make latching more difficult, as breast tissue is not as supported as when sitting up. A breastfeeding pillow may be helpful in this position to support your arms.
Another common breastfeeding position is the Side Lying position. In this position the breastfeeding parent lays on their side, and brings the baby to the chest also laying on their side. Baby and breastfeeding parents should be tummy to tummy, the baby should not have to turn their head to latch. This position should always be done when the parent is awake and alert, and in a safe space. Side lying can help with latching struggles, and it allows both the parent and baby to relax – nothing has to be held up. It can be a very useful position healing from birth and as your baby grows.
Similar to the cradle position, Cross cradle positions the breastfeeding parent sitting up, with the baby across their chest. The difference in this position is that rather than use the elbow to support the baby, the opposite arm comes across the baby’s back and supports their neck. This position can be an especially helpful breastfeeding position for a newborn, when your baby is still learning to use their muscles and can be a little floppy. Many breastfeeding parents also find this position helpful because it allows for the arm not supporting the baby to be free to support the breast or help baby latch. This is another breastfeeding position that a pillow may be preferred for additional support and comfort.
Upright or Koala Hold
This upright position can be very helpful for babies who have reflux, suffer from ear infections or those that have low muscle tone. It can also be beneficial for infants who are breastfeeding with a tongue or lip tie. In this breastfeeding hold, the baby is placed upright (straddling the parents thigh) and supported by the parent at the nape of the neck. This position can be used with newborns, as long as adequate neck support is given.
In a Sling or Carrier
Breastfeeding while baby wearing is possible! A sling or carrier can give additional support to the breastfeeding parent, allow for hands free and breastfeeding on the go. Check with the manufacturer of your carrier or sling for specific instructions on how to best support your baby while feeding in their product. This breastfeeding position usually works best once the baby is sitting unassisted or has pretty good head control. You can definitely try before that, but you may find that you still need to use your hands to help the baby stay latched before those milestones have been reached. If you are simply using the carrier as additional support, or to support a special need, having hands free may be less of a concern.
A very popular breastfeeding hold is the Football Hold. In this position you tuck your baby under the arm (like a football) and support them by holding their back and the neck and head. One of the most loved benefits of this position is that it gives you the ability to really assist your baby in getting a deep latch. Our lactation team finds that babies who struggle to stay latched do very well in a football hold because of the assistance from the parent and it lets them take a break from holding their head up on their own. In this position remember to sit up straight (put some pillows behind you if needed) and do not arch your back down towards the baby, as that can cause a back or neck ache. The positioning to the side of the body also takes pressure off of any healing incisions or sore body parts. A pillow can be placed under the parents arm for additional support.
Dangle nursing is a breastfeeding hold that might feel kind of silly, but the benefits are worth it! In this position the parent leans or dangles over the baby. This position is not a commonly used position, as it isn’t very conducive to every day feeding, but it can be extremely helpful if the breastfeeding parent has a clogged duct or mastitis. The gravity helps the milk flow down toward the nipple to clear any blockage. Be sure to stretch your back and neck out after feeding in this position.