What Are the Best Positions for Breastfeeding?

What Are the Best Positions for Breastfeeding?
Dmitriy Bronfman OB-GYN (Obstetrician-Gynecologist) Brooklyn, New York

Dmitriy Bronfman, MD is a practicing OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist) in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Bronfman graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University in 1998 and has been in practice for 19 years. He completed a residency at Brooklyn Hospital Center. Dr. Bronfman also specializes in Obstetrics and... more

Being a new mom brings many challenges. There will be so many changes that you will need to get used to. There will also be many questions you will desperately need answers to. Breastfeeding is one of these things. If you are trying it and it's not working as it should at first, you really don't need to panic. Breastfeeding takes practice for both you and for your newborn. It is important to find the position you and your baby will be most comfortable with. Don't forget that breastfeeding will be a bonding experience that you and your baby will share, and that it will take up a few hours of your day.

Which position you breastfeed in makes a big difference. As there are different types of positions to choose from, you can try out several and see which one you feel most comfortable with and which one your baby also enjoys best.

1. Cradle Holding

This is a classic position of breastfeeding. It is called cradle holding because, with this position, you will cradle the head of the baby with the crook of your arm. This position is best when you sit in a chair with armrests on it or a bed with a lot of pillows, working as armrests. Make sure to make yourself comfortable by resting your legs on a stool or a chair, a coffee table or any other raised surface that makes you comfortable. In this position, the baby should be lying on the side, while the stomach, face, and knees are facing you. The arm of the baby should be tuckered under your own. Your arm should be on the back of your baby, supporting their spine.

This cradle holding position is known to work best for babies who have been delivered vaginally and on full-term. It might not be best for women who have had cesarean, as the baby may put pressure on their abdomen this way. It will also not work for babies who have been delivered prematurely, because it is harder to guide the newborns to the nipple. For this position, the baby needs to be strong and have strong neck muscles.

2. Holding Crossover

This position is very similar to the cradle holding. The difference is that you won't support the head of the baby with one arm only; you will be switching arms, which explains why this position is called crossover. This position can help inĀ breastfeeding with flat nipples.

3. Holding the Football

Holding the football is a position in which you tuck your baby under your arm, the feet of the baby pointing your back, while the nose level of the baby is pointing towards your nipples. It is basically like holding a football or a handbag. The baby's head would represent the football, while the body of the baby should be tucked under your arm. You need to support your baby's head and body and while doing so, make sure that your arms are supported on a pillow; otherwise, it will get tiring very quickly.

This position is best for women who have had a cesarean. As the baby's body is on the side, pointing your back and not pressuring on your abdomen, it will be easier for you compared to other positions. It is also good for babies who have difficulties latching on and are very small, as you are supporting the baby's head and are able to point them towards your nipple. Mothers of twins should try this position first, as well as mothers who have larger breasts.

General Tips

No matter which position you find to be best, there are some general tips to keep in mind. You need to always make sure that your body is being supported. Whether you are using an armrest or pillows, you must find what you need to make sure that you are comfortable at all times. Remember to make sure that your feet are being supported too. If you don't, back pain will become unbearable and you won't be able to continue breastfeeding due to the extreme back pain.

To help your baby latch on the nipples, you need to use your fingers to support your breasts too. They will be heavy during breastfeeding and it will be hard on your newborn without some type of assistance. When using your fingers, you should always leave a few inches between the nipple and the fingers, so that your baby doesn't start sucking on your fingers instead of the nipple.

Changing positions will also be helpful. Not only will it help you feel more comfortable, but it will also prevent your milk ducts from getting clogged. A comfortable position you once used might not feel as comfortable as your baby grows, so switching up your routine is important.

During breastfeeding, you need to stay hydrated. Always keep a glass of milk, juice, or water on the side that you can drink while breastfeeding. Staying hydrated not only makes it easier for you to continue breastfeeding and not get fatigued as quickly, but it will also help you produce more milk. When the baby's had enough, you will know. Sometimes it will need some rest, so stopping while breastfeeding shouldn't worry you whatsoever. You can use small breaks to switch positions.

Breastfeeding will be practiced in the hospital, but the practice continues when you're at home too. If you're having difficulties, it is important to not give up too quickly, considering all the benefits of breastfeeding. Some of the benefits are lowering the risks of allergies and asthma, lowering the risks of getting ear infections, respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, and more. Urinary tract infections and viruses are also less likely to occur in babies who have been breastfed. All in all, it improves the health state of your baby and the immune system. This alone is a good reason to trying your best to make it work!