Breastfeeding Positions

To begin feeding, start by washing your hands. If your baby is sleepy, checking her diaper prior to feeding is often a good way to wake her up. Make sure to wash your hands again after checking her diaper. Sit in a comfortable position. Sitting upright puts your nipple in a great location for your baby to latch on. This position won’t be as important later on, but can make a big difference when you and your baby are first learning to breastfeed. Several pillows may also help with positioning.

There are several positions to hold your baby while you’re feeding her.

Cross-Cradle Hold

The cross-cradle hold is ideal for early breastfeeding. Sit up straight in a comfortable chair with armrests. Hold your baby crosswise in the crook of the arm opposite the breast you’re feeding from. Use your left arm when feeding from the right breast, and your right arm when feeding from the left breast. Support the baby’s body and head with your forearm and the palm of your hand. Place your other hand beneath your breast in a U-shaped hold and guide the baby’s mouth to your breast. Don’t bend over or lean forward. Instead, cradle your baby close to your breast.

View a demonstration of the cross-cradle hold.

Cradle Position

Using the cradle hold, support the baby with the arm on the same side as the nursing breast. Sit up straight, preferably in a chair with armrests. Cradle your baby and rest his head in the crook of your elbow while he faces your breast. For extra support, place a pillow on your lap.

View a demonstration of the cradle hold.

Football Hold

The football hold may be a good choice if you have large breasts or you’re nursing two babies at once. Hold your baby at your side, with your elbow bent. With your open hand, support your baby’s head and face her toward your breast. Your baby’s back will rest on your forearm. For comfort, put a pillow on your lap and use a chair with broad, low arms.

This is an excellent position for mothers after Cesarean birth or if you’re having difficulty with engorgement or sore nipples. The “football hold” is often easier to do than the cradle hold, and it’s easier to look at your baby’s face when you use this hold.

View a demonstration of the football hold.

Side-Lying Hold

A lying position may help your baby latch on to your breast correctly in the early days of breastfeeding, especially after a C-section. It’s also a good choice when you’re tired, although it’s important to return the baby to his own bed to sleep.

Lie on your side and face your baby toward your breast, supporting him with the hand of the arm you’re resting on. With your other hand, grasp your breast and then touch your nipple to your baby’s lips. Once your baby latches on, use the bottom arm to support your own head and your top hand and arm to help support the baby.

View a demonstration of the side lying hold.