Best breastfeeding positions
Side-lying is an ideal breastfeeding position for women recovering from surgery, and for exhausted women feeding at night. Women who co-sleep with the baby tend to use this position.
Some women find that it is difficult to get into the right position at first. Very small newborns may struggle with side-lying.
To breastfeed in a side-lying position:
- Lie on one side, facing the baby.
- Place the baby so its nose is close to your nipple.
- Hold the baby close to your side, and support its back with your lower arm or a rolled up blanket or towel.
Some babies find it easier to breastfeed from the top breast, while others can more easily reach the breast that is closest to the bed.
Women who try this position should note that while co-sleeping is popular, most organizations do not recommend it. This is especially true for newborns who have a high risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The safest way to breastfeed in a side-lying position is to remove all pillows and blankets near the baby. Avoid falling asleep before returning the baby to its crib.
6. Clutch hold
The clutch hold is ideal for women recovering from abdominal surgery or dealing with pain after childbirth. It is also an excellent option for women who want to nurse two babies simultaneously.
Many women find this helps babies get a deeper latch, and that it reduces frustration associated with a forceful let-down reflex.
This hold is sometimes called the football hold because a woman holds the baby like a football.
To use the clutch hold position:
- Place a pillow on one side of your body or both sides if breastfeeding two babies. The pillow will support the baby’s body.
- Hold the baby face-upwards in your arm with their head near to your breast.
- Align the baby’s head, neck and back support them with your arm and hand.
- Cradle the baby close to your side with their legs and feet tucked under your arm.
Positioning is just one aspect of comfortable breastfeeding. These other strategies can make breastfeeding more comfortable and effective:
- Using pillows or rolled blankets for extra support. This tactic can be especially helpful if holding the baby causes muscle strain. For example, putting a pillow under the elbow that supports the baby can help reduce shoulder and neck tension.
- Creating a comfortable breastfeeding area. Stocking one area of the house or room with snacks, water, a nursing pillow, a blanket, burping supplies, a book or magazine, and other necessities can help women manage long breastfeeding sessions.
- Relaxing the neck and shoulders. Some people tense their neck and shoulder muscles to support the weight of the baby. Try actively relaxing these muscles or use a pillow for support.
- Supporting the breast. Depending on the breast’s size or position, it may cover much of the baby’s face. Supporting the weight of the breast with a free hand can make the position more comfortable and keep the baby’s nose uncovered.
- Pumping after each breastfeeding session. To increase supply and build up a store of breast milk, a woman can pump after each breastfeeding session. This helps to empty the breasts. Some women prefer to save time by pumping on one breast while breastfeeding on the other.