6 Breastfeeding Positions for Mom and Baby

baby looking up at mom while breastfeeding

Every parent has their own individual parenting styles and preferences regarding their baby. Some mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies, while others may incorporate formula. For those who breastfeed, there is no right or wrong way to hold your baby during feeding times. Each mom and baby will find a position they prefer with trial and error as time passes. There is not a universal "best" position for breastfeeding, but rather the best position for each mom and baby duo.  

Knowing a few different positions and techniques will be helpful when starting with breastfeeding. Your go-to breastfeeding position will adapt as your baby grows, so it's good to be versatile with positions. Here are several positions you can try while breastfeeding your little one to discover what works best for you. 

Cradle Hold 

The cradle hold is the classic breastfeeding position that most people picture when they think of a mother breastfeeding her baby. The baby's head and neck rest along the mother's forearm as their body rests against the mother's stomach. This position does not offer as much support as others, so it may not be the best choice during the newborn stage. This is one of the many positions where a nursing pillow may be useful. Lay your baby across your lap on top of the pillow for extra support, but be careful it doesn't lift your baby too high! To avoid sore nipples and straining, ensure your breasts remain in their natural position.

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Cross-cradle Hold

Although this position may look similar to the cradle hold, it’s the opposite. For this position, your baby will lay across your forearm opposite from the breast they are feeding from. Support the back of your baby’s head with an open hand while your other hand supports your breast. This position gives the mother more control over the baby's positioning while also being able to shape her breast.  

Laid-back / Reclined Hold

Laid-back breastfeeding can work for babies of all ages and is helpful for a mother whose baby struggles to latch. To try this position (if it wasn’t already the first one you tried in the hospital), place your baby on your chest or stomach. They will work toward one of your breasts instinctively and hopefully latch on. This is an excellent position for skin-to-skin contact, which will also help stimulate your baby’s feeding instincts. Use cushions or pillows to prop yourself up so you can watch your baby.  
Breastfeeding Positions

Football Hold 

The football hold is a go-to feeding position for mothers, especially those recovering from a C-section! For this feeding position, hold your baby at your side; bend your elbow for your baby to rest on as you support their head and face with your other hand. Try placing a pillow on your lap or sitting in a chair with broad, low arms for comfort! 

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Side-lying Hold

The side-lying breastfeeding position can be difficult at first (especially with a newborn). Still, it is an excellent option for mothers once they get the hang of it. For a mother who is tired or feeding at night, what better position than one that allows them to lie down while feeding? Always return your baby to their crib before falling back asleep, and remove all pillows and blankets from the area to ensure your baby’s safety! 

Koala Hold (Upright Breastfeeding) 

To feed your baby in the koala hold or an upright position, place them on your thigh or hip with their legs open around you. Hold your baby’s spine and head upright as they feed while sitting. This position is the most comfortable option for babies with reflux, ear infections, or low muscle tone. While you can feed a baby of any age in this position with support, it is the most convenient position for a mother with an older baby who can sit up on their own.  

Remember, there is no universal formula for breastfeeding. Every mother and baby will have their own preferences and positions that are comfortable for them. As your baby grows, your go-to breastfeeding position will likely change with them, so enjoy these tips and find what works best for you and your baby! 

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