Breastfeeding positions and techniques: discovering what works for you
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to breastfeeding your little nut. Every woman is different; every baby is different. And your differing needs mean you’ll need to play around with a range of positions to find that sweet spot. From the cradle-hold to the rugby ball, there is a slew of breastfeeding positions and techniques you can practice. With a little patience and a fair amount of wiggling and jiggling, you’ll find what works for you in no time.
Before we dive in, here are some things to be mindful of:
- Always support your body with plenty of pillows, and pick a chair with armrests
- Use your hands to support your breasts during feeding
- Make sure baby is secure and comfortable – avoid baby’s head and body facing different directions or holding her too far from your breast
- Alternate between breasts during feeding
- Avoid hunching over baby
The rugby ball
The aptly named ‘rugby ball’ (a.k.a. underarm hold) is perfect if you’re recovering from a C-section or have large breasts, since it keeps your cherub’s weight off your stomach. Bending your elbows, hold baby next to you at waist height. Support your little one’s head with an open hand, and gently tilt her towards your breast. Her back will naturally rest on your forearm as if you’re holding a rugby ball.
The cross-cradle hold
The cross-cradle is one of the best nursing positions for first-time mums, especially if baby is struggling to latch on. Sitting comfortably yet upright in an armchair, place baby on your front, with her stomach against yours. Holding her in the crease of your arm – opposite the nursing breast you’re going to feed from (left arm for right breast and right arm for left breast) – support her head with your open hand and, with your other hand, support your breast from underneath. Gently encourage baby’s mouth to latch onto your breast – you shouldn’t need to bend or lean forward. Naturally, you’ll feel inclined to cradle her close to your breast.
The cradle hold
The cradle hold is similar in style to the cross-cradle hold. However, instead of using the opposite arm to breast, you support baby with the arm on the same side as your nursing breast. Like the cross-cradle hold, ensure you’re sitting in an easy but wakeful position in a comfy armchair. Cradle your little nut, with her head resting in the crease of your elbow, facing your breast. Make sure baby’s head is fully aligned with the rest of her body – not turned to the side. To make things extra comfy, place a pillow on your lap.
Breastfeeding lying down
If you’re feeling sluggish or tired from childbirth, you can always feed your little one lying down (as long as you’re careful to stay awake!). This position can be comfortable if you’ve had a C-section, too. Lying on your side and supporting baby with one hand, gently tilt her towards your nursing breast. Using your other hand, take your breast and encourage baby to latch onto your nipple. After she latches on, use one arm to hold her close and the other to support yourself.
Although you can breastfeed twins separately, it’s also possible to feed them both at once (a.k.a. tandem feeding). Try one of the aforementioned positions to see what works best for you and your bundles of joy.
Remember, breastfeeding is different for every woman. And encountering bumps along the road is natural. If you have any questions, be sure to speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor.