Which breastfeeding position is the best?

Are you feeling overwhelmed sorting through all the breastfeeding and chestfeeding positioning information out there?  Maybe the hospital nurse told you to use the football position, but you find it uncomfortable?  Your friend may swear by the cross cradle for her baby, but you feel like your baby hates it?  How can you figure out which breastfeeding position is right for you?

You and your baby are the position experts!

The first step is to realize that you and your baby are the real experts on what works and what does not.  Together, you and your baby can try multiple positions and orientations, experimenting with what feels good to you both. 

Oftentimes, the first step in finding which breastfeeding position is the best for you both is to relax together in skin-to-skin contact.  Try to find a relaxing spot, like your bed.  Lean back with pillows behind you in a comfortable position like shown in this video.  Place your diapered baby on your bare chest with their head turned, cheek on the breast. Let them root for the nipple and self-attach with your guidance.  There does not have to be a particular orientation, position, or method to latching and nursing!  Your body and your arms can hold your baby’s weight.  Use any pillows to help support your arms for comfort.  You and your baby are the experts on what works for you and what feels the most comfortable. 

Positions for specific situations

If you have tried experimenting with different positions and are still struggling with comfort, these suggestions may help you determine which breastfeeding position is best for you:

Biological nurturing or laid-back breastfeeding.

Laid-back breastfeeding

This breastfeeding position is best for: All newborn babies, tongue-tied babies, downward pointing nipples, large breasts, fast milk flow, parent rest

Babies feed best with their tummy in direct contact with your tummy.  Try scooting your bottom out on the sofa and lean back with your baby in direct contact with your body.  For larger breasts/downward pointing nipples, try a more reclined position. Your baby can be up and down, diagonal across your body, or along your side.  You can try to shape your breast for a big mouthful and deep latch. Remember, bring baby to the breast/chest, do not bring your nipple to your baby!

Cradle position

This breastfeeding position is best for: Newborn babies, older babies

Support your baby in your arm and have their body positioned like a sash across your body (remembering they can be at any angle across your body).  You can be upright or reclined.  Make sure your baby’s hips, shoulders, and tummy are tucked in close.  You can shape your breast and nipple to touch the baby’s upper lip.  Allow them to search for your nipple, coming in chin first, head extended, and with a big, open mouth. 

Koala or Straddle Hold

This breastfeeding position is best for: Large breasts, avoiding c-section scar, tongue tie, breathing concerns

For large breasts, consider rolling up a towel to place under the breast to lift it.  Have your baby straddle your leg and hold their upper back, fingers supporting behind their ears.  Bring them just below your nipple, chin first, head extended as shown in this video.  Let them root and search for the nipple, waiting for the open mouth before bringing them to you.

Side lying feeding

This breastfeeding position is best for: Night nursing, avoiding c-section scar, parent rest, supportive positioning

This position, like laid back breastfeeding, allows for parent/baby rest and recovery.  Lay on your side and have your baby face you, mouth and chin below your nipple.  Tuck your baby in close allowing them to extend their head, and press their chin to your breast before latching as shown in this side-lying position video.  

These are just a few positions that may help guide you as you and your baby learn together which breastfeeding and chestfeeding positions are best for you!  Remember, there is no one exact position that works for everyone.  You can experiment together to find the most comfortable positions for you.  If you need more help with positioning, reach out to us at Milk Connections Lactation Consulting.  We are here to support you on your parenting and feeding journey.