From the classic cradle hold to the rugby ball (stay with us…), there are plenty of breastfeeding positions to try until you find what works best for you and your baby
Once you’ve got going with breastfeeding, you will soon want to work out which position is right for you, especially if you’ve had a caesarean section or are nursing twins. Luckily, there are plenty to try out until you find the right one.
Whichever you choose, make sure you’re properly supported. You’re going to be breastfeeding for many hours a day – trust us, it’s worth getting comfy!
Scroll down for our gallery of photos showing you each position.
The classic cradle hold
Sit in a chair (one with supportive armrests is best) and cradle your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Hold him across your lap, or rest him on a pillow on your lap, so that he’s lying on his side with his head supported by your forearm and his nose facing toward your nipple. Tuck his lower arm under your own.
If he's nursing on the left breast, rest his head in the crook of your left arm.
Extend your forearm and hand down his back to support his neck, spine, and bottom.
Extend your forearm and hand down his back to support his neck, spine, and bottom. He should lie straight, or at a slight angle, with his ear, shoulder and hip lined up and his knees against your body or just below your right breast.
Mama tip: If you have a stool or coffee table, put your feet up. As well as making you more comfortable, it’ll stop you from leaning down towards your baby.
The cross-over hold
Instead of supporting your infant’s head with the crook of your arm, switch arms so that you’re using the opposite one to the breast he is feeding from.
So, if you’re nursing from your left breast, use your right hand and arm to hold your baby and use your hand to guide his mouth towards your breast. Again, his body, chest and tummy should be directly facing you.
Mama tip: This can work well for small babies or if your little one has problems latching on, as you can direct your baby’s head much better.
Lying on your side
Nursing lying down on your side can be a good option for night time feeding or if you’re recovering from a caesarean.
To nurse lying down on your side, place some pillows behind your back for support (ask your partner to help). You can also place a pillow under your head and shoulders and one between your bent knees to help ensure your back and hips are in a straight line.
Draw your baby close to you, so that his nose is facing your nipple and cradle his head with the hand of your bottom arm. Alternatively, cradle his head with your top arm, tucking your bottom arm under your head, out of the way.
Mama tip: Your baby should be able to reach your nipple without having to strain and without you needing to bend over towards him. If your baby needs to be higher, place a small pillow or cushion under him – if he still can’t reach comfortably, you may want to hold your breast and raise it up slightly with your fingers underneath.
If you’ve got large breasts, try a folded towel placed under the rib cage to lift your body slightly.
The rugby ball, underarm, or clutch hold
This hold involves tucking your baby under your arm (on the same side that you’re nursing from), a bit like holding a rugby ball.
Your health visitor may recommend this position if you’re recovering from a C-section and want to avoid having any weight on your tummy, if you’re a mum to twins and want to nurse both babies at the same time or if you have large breasts or flat nipples.
Start by positioning your baby under your arm at your side. He should be facing you with his feet pointing towards your back and his nose level with your nipple.
Place pillows on your lap or right beside you to support your arms, then support your baby’s shoulders, neck, and head with your hand. Using a C-hold (cup four fingers underneath the breast at 9 o'clock with your thumb on top at 3 o'clock), guide him to your nipple, chin first. Use your forearm to support his upper back.
Mama tip: As the hold allows you to guide your infant’s head to your nipple it can be a good option for smaller babies and those who have difficulty latching on. Just take care not to push him toward your breast so much he resists and arches his head against your hand.
With plenty of cushions behind you, lean back into a semi-reclined position. Place your baby on top of you, his tummy on your tummy, with his nose near your nipple.
His body should be parallel to yours. Support him with a hand on his bottom. Allow him to wriggle into a good position and attach himself to your breast – this may take a while at first.
This is a great position for a newborn as it allows him to take the initiative and explore breastfeeding for himself. It also gives the all-important opportunity to feed skin-to-skin, and is good for tired mums as it’s such a restful position.
Lying on your back
Lie down on a bed, flat on your back with your knees bent, and lay your baby face down on top of you, his nose at the same level as your nipple.
Support your baby with your hands but let him manoeuvre his own head to attach and feed as he pleases.
This position is useful if you have a fast milk let-down, using gravity to naturally slow your milk and allowing your baby to control his head and react to the flow. It’s a comfortable position for women with small breasts and facilitates a high level of skin-to-skin contact.
For mum-to-mum breastfeeding support, visit nct.org.uk or call 0300 330 0700 (between 8am and midnight) to speak with a trained breastfeeding counsellor.