Finding The Best Breastfeeding Position For You
Finding a breastfeeding position that works well for both you and baby is really important for getting nursing off to the best start.
Breastfeeding is a completely natural way to feed your baby. It’s good to offer your baby the breast as soon as she’s born. Take time to find a comfortable position to get your baby latched on – this will ensure that she feeds properly and doesn’t make your nipples sore.
READ MORE: Treating Sore Nipples When Breastfeeding
Your baby will instinctively root for your nipple when she’s first placed near to your breast after the birth. Feeding your baby early and often is the best way to go, but don’t worry too much if at this point all your baby wants to do is cuddle, as this skin-to-skin time will help you to bond and also helps to kick start breastfeeding.
Skin-to-skin can prompt baby to give early feeding cues including stirring, mouth opening, turning her head, seeking or rooting for the breast.
READ MORE: 2 Things You Need To Understand About Breastfeeding
How do I know if my baby is latched on properly?
According to the HSE website, breastfeeding.ie, the following signs show that your baby is positioned and attached correctly to your breast:
- Baby has a big wide mouthful of breast in his mouth, with his chin touching your breast. You may notice his top and bottom lips curled out to resemble the letter K.
- Baby’s cheeks are full and rounded, you should not see the cheeks dimpling when baby sucks.
- Baby’s jaw is moving, you will also see his little ears twitch as he feeds.
- Baby starts with short quick sucks, then changes to long deep sucks with pauses to breathe.
- You should hear swallowing as your breastmilk volume increases, not smacking or clicking sounds.
- Baby feeds calmly and does not fuss or come on and off the breast.
- Baby finishes feeding and seems satisfies.
- You will feel comfortable during a feed and your nipples should not be sore or blanched after the feeds.
READ MORE: Breastfeeding Benefits For Mother And Baby
1. Cradle hold
This is ideal for babies when they have more head and neck control, after a few weeks.
- Put your baby on their side, tummy-to-tummy with you.
- Rest their head on your arm with their nose in front of your nipple.
- Tuck their lower arm under your breast.
This helps your newborn naturally latch on to your breast.
- Lean back comfortably in a semi-upright position, use pillows to support you.
- Lay your baby on their tummy on top of your chest with their cheek near or on your breast.
- Support their head with your arm or hand if needed.
- Your baby will find your breast when they’re ready to feed or you can help them.
3. Side lying
This is great for feeding at night, but don’t fall asleep while your baby is in your bed.
- Make sure bedding and pillows are pushed aside.
- Both you and your baby lie on your side, tummy-to-tummy.
- Start with their nose in front of your breast. You may be more comfortable tucking your hand (on the side you’re lying on) under your head.
4. Football hold
This is a great position especially if you’ve had a Caesarean Section or have large breasts.
- Hold your baby along the side of your body.
- Tuck your baby’s legs under your arm.
- Slide your arm under their back and rest their head on your arm. You may like to rest your arm on a pillow or cushion.
- Offer your baby the breast on the same side as the arm that is holding them.
It can take a little bit of time to find a comfortable position for yourself and your babies when you’re breastfeeding twins. But in the meantime, you might find it easier to focus on one baby at a time.
Try to do all of your feeds in a spacious area such as a large bed or a big sofa with lots pillows to support your back and lift up your babies if needed. According to the Irish Multiple Births Association (IMBA), the most common position for breastfeeding twins is the cradle hold, where a baby is cradled in one arm and feeds from the opposite side.
IMBA also recommends the football hold as the most useful, as it most easily facilitates feeding two babies at a time. Each baby’s side is placed nestled closely against your side, with your baby’s feet and legs tucked under your arm.
There are two important things to remember when trying out breastfeeding positions. Is the latch comfortable and is baby getting a good flow of milk? There are many ways to achieve this, but as bodies and breasts are all different sizes and shapes this will vary from person to person – and babies have their own preferences too!
One position I really love, and that works with lots of newborns, is the 'laid back' position (also called biological nurturing).
READ MORE: This Is What Tandem Breastfeeding Is Really Like
This is where mum relaxes in a semi-reclined position either in bed, on a comfy chair or sofa and places baby tummy to tummy resting on her body, with head at breast height. Baby will actually make their own way to the breast and latch on, with only a little bit of help (if needed) to support baby’s head or hold the breast still. I have seen the newest of newborns latch themselves on in this way, and it never fails to amaze me!
READ MORE: Caring For Your Family While Breastfeeding
This is a great position if breastfeeding is sore as attaching from 'on top' widens the latch and can reduce discomfort. It’s also brilliant after a C-section (keeping little feet away from the wound), or if arms or shoulders are getting tired. As gravity holds baby in place mum can completely relax, and arms are free to have a snack, play with an older child, or to enjoy stroking and cuddling baby. Babies love it too, and it can really work to slow a strong flow of milk too, which reduces gulping and wind. Breastfeeding is meant to be enjoyable, so please do seek out skilled help if you have questions or are needing support! - Johanna Riley Cusack
Johanna Riley Cusack, IBCLC, has been supporting breastfeeding since 1999. Antenatal breastfeeding classes, expert breastfeeding support available in own home. Serving Clare, Limerick, and North Tipperary. Phone 086 167 7816 to arrange appointment.