Your hospital will likely teach you the basic cradle hold. But with some trial-and-error, you might find another breastfeeding position works better for you and your baby. Here’s the lowdown on all the basic breastfeeding positions:
- Cradle hold: Position your baby so that her head rests in the bend of your elbow of the arm on the side you’ll be breastfeeding, with the same hand supporting the rest of baby’s body. Hold your breast with your opposite hand and compress it very gently so that the nipple points toward baby’s nose.
- Crossover hold: Hold your baby’s head with the hand opposite to the breast you’ll be nursing from. For example, if nursing from the right breast, hold the head with your left hand. Using your free hand, cup your breast as you would for the cradle hold.
- Football hold: Your baby’s legs are tucked under your arm on the same side as the breast you’re nursing from. Hold your baby with that arm on a pillow to lift her up, and use your other hand to cup your breast.
- Side-lying position: A good position if you’re nursing in the middle of the night. Lie on your side with a pillow under your head. Baby should face you, head in line with your nipple. Use your hand on the side you’re not lying on to cup your breast if you need to. You may want to place a small pillow behind your baby’s back to hold her close.
- Laid-back position (“biological nurturing”). In this position, you lean back comfortably, semi-reclined, on a couch or bed with pillows supporting your upper back, neck and head. Place baby on you, tummy to tummy, lying on your chest in pretty much any direction that’s comfortable, with the baby’s cheek on your breast. Your little one’s weight will be supported by your reclining body. The idea with this nursing position is to take advantage of gravity and naturally let baby seek out your nipple, but you can also hold your breast and point it toward the baby to encourage latching. This is a great breastfeeding position for newborns, babies who spit up a lot, and infants who are gassy or have ultra-sensitive stomachs. It also leaves your hands free to cuddle with and caress your little cutie.