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As you and your baby start to get the hang of breastfeeding sessions, you may come to find that certain positions are more comfortable for the two of you—or even more effective! You might also find that a certain position works best for you every time, or you could prefer to switch things up with each feeding. As long as you and your newborn are happy, use whichever positions you like. Just make sure to always bring your baby up to nipple height to minimize the possibility of backaches, shoulder and neck strain, or sore nipples.
Try experimenting with these classic breastfeeding positions:
Football Hold Breastfeeding (Also Called the Clutch Hold)
Position your baby facing you along your side, next to the breast you’re nursing from, with their legs tucked under your arm (like a little football!). Support their head with the same hand (so if you’re nursing from your right breast, use your right hand) and use your other hand to cup your breast and facilitate latching. Pillows can help support your baby and bring their head to the correct height.
This position may be especially helpful for you if you had a C-section and want to avoid placing your baby against your abdomen, if you have large breasts, or if you have a particularly small or premature baby.
Laid-Back Breastfeeding (aka Biological Nurturing)
For this technique, lean back in a semi-reclined position on a bed or couch, bolstered by pillows. Place your baby’s stomach on your own stomach, with their head near your breast. Their feet should be supported by your body, and they should not need to turn their head to reach your breast. Use one hand to hold your breast and the other to support your baby’s bottom. Then, if necessary, help direct your nipple towards your baby’s mouth—from there, you and your baby should both be able to relax!
This position is also called biological nurturing because it’s meant to encourage your baby’s natural feeding instincts. It can be particularly useful for lactating parents with smaller breasts and for babies with sensitive stomachs or excess gas.
This position is a favorite among parents breastfeeding in the middle of the night. To try it, both you and your baby should lie facing each other on your sides, stomach to stomach. Use your other hand (the one you’re not lying on) to cup your breast if necessary, and direct your nipple towards your baby’s mouth. Important: with this position, take special precaution to ensure that there’s no excess bedding that could pose a suffocation risk to your baby, and only do this one on a firm, flat surface, i.e., not a water bed or couch.
For some lactating parents, this position takes a little while to master—but it can be your most comfortable bet during nighttime feedings. Try it and see if it works for you!
If you’re having any trouble settling into a comfortable breastfeeding position, talk with your International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or schedule a consultation with an IBCLC through Lactation Network. An IBCLC can help you identify the positions that work best for you and your baby.