Breastfeeding Positions

I remember trying to use different breastfeeding positions for my newborn. Lying down and just not getting the hang of it was really frustrating. My midwife was a lactation consultant and I just presumed that the advice she had given me was all I'd need....

After lots of difficulty getting him latched lying down or using the football hold I finally just gave up and used the cradle hold exclusively. That is until I got mastitis!

Anyway, looking back now, there are lots of things I think would have been worthy knowing and hopefully you'll find this before you have too many troubles! Some of the positions are great for fast flow and blocked ducts and some for babies who have reflux, not to mention avoiding other breastfeeding problems.

This beautiful breastfeeding self portrait was taken by Mel // Left of Centre.

Click here for more information and a video about the cradle position - the most common breastfeeding position for public breastfeeding (much easier to be discreet).

Breastfeeding with the babies legs over the mothers shoulder is one of the least talked about positions. It helps to drain ducts in the upper breast.

Check out the video

Discover 2 advantages and one disadvantage of using The Football hold for breastfeeding. Learn how to make it work for you.

Learn how to make breastfeeding lying on your side easier and how to avoid falling asleep on your baby so you can use this position without worrying.

Check out the video

Discover 3 reasons breastfeeding lying on your backis useful and learn how to use this mort restful of breastfeeding positions

5 great uses forthe saddle position that you must know and how to use this position for relieving mastitis.

Check out the video

Want to learn a how to discreetly breastfeed your baby in a carrier so you can get out easily? This position helps busy mothers continue their day.

As a manual health practitioner I often see some pretty poor posture. I always tell my patients that keeping your body hunched for a long time can lead to low milk supply. If you are tired and feel like slumping use a different breastfeeding position or support yourself and your baby with some pillows or cushions,

If you also get your baby into a good position for their posture they are much more likely to latch on well and be less fussy during the feed. Keeping the baby's spine and neck straight is much more comfortable for them and they are calmer and can feed longer without fussing.

Breastfeeding In the Saddle Position

breastfeeding in the saddle position

This breastfeeding position involves the baby sitting astride the mothers leg, facing the mother. The benefits of this position include:

  • Calms down a forceful let down reflex
  • Good upright position for babies with excess wind or colic
  • Your baby's weight is supported by your leg not your arm
  • Drains the bottom of your breast well
  • Alleviates nipple damage on the sides of your nipple, placing more pressure on the top and bottom instead.
  • Can be used with baby led latch to prime your baby's reflexes so they open their mouth wider and stick out their tongue further.

Learn more and see a video about the Saddle Position

Baby's Legs Over Mother's Shoulder

babies legs over mothers shoulder breastfeeding position

This breastfeeding position, like the lying on your side position, is a little awkward to initiate but it is so useful for mothers with a huge milk supply because you can drain the ducts at the top of your breast. Get your baby lined up well on your bed or the floor so their neck is a little bit extended as this will help you latch on better. Place yourself in the right spot so that your nipple is in line with your baby's nose.

This fabulous photo was uploaded by Mothering Touch

Once you start to feed, if things aren't comfortable reposition yourself and reattach your baby rather than straining to get into the right position without taking your baby off the breast.

Click here to SEE A VIDEO and learn more about the
baby's legs over the mother's shoulder position

Breastfeeding Lying on Your Back

breastfeeding lying on your back

Breastfeeding lying on your back is excellent because it:

  • Doesn't cause any pain in your hips or shoulders
  • Doesn't cause pain in perineal stitches
  • Is the best position for mothers with a forceful let down reflex
  • You won't roll onto your baby if you fall asleep

The main downfall of this position is that it can lead to a bit of milk dribbling down onto the bed so it is useful to use a towel underneath you while using this hold.

Learn more about Breastfeeding Lying in Your Back

Breastfeeding Lying on Your Side

breastfeeding lying on your side

Feeding a baby lying down can be an excellent way of keeping off a newly stitched perineum, allowing the swelling to go down. Commonly a newborn will feed for anywhere between 20-40 minutes and sometimes longer and this can be agonizing to sit through if the stitches are throbbing.

A pitfall to be aware of in this position is that you can be quite tired and end up falling asleep. A good way to ensure you won't roll onto your baby is to have a large pillow behind you to lean back on (this also helps avoid getting hip pain during a feed).

This could also be a bad breastfeeding position to try if you've had a caesarian section as the baby will sometimes kick the stitches, but in other ways it is good as you are less likely to get the throbbing pain that happens when you are upright.

A common reason for this to be difficult for new mothers is that they don't position their baby well. Make sure your baby is able to tilt their head back a little when latching on. If you have them positioned too far up towards your head they will not latch well. Sometimes attaching your baby in the cradle hold then lying down and rolling to your side is easier initially.

Click here to see a video and learn more about
breastfeeding lying on your side

Breastfeeding in the Football Hold

breastfeeding in the football hold

This breastfeeding position is great for mothers who have pain in their abdomen, such as after a caesarian, because it gets the baby off that area. Like the cross cradle hold, the football hold allows the mother to guide the baby's latch more easily.

Another advantage of this hold is getting the baby to suck milk from a different part of the breast more effectively. If blocked ducts and mastitis are a problem, using the football hold as well as the cradle hold can be really useful to help fully drain the breast. It is generally considered the the baby drains the part of the breast that the chin points to, so a football hold is good for draining lumps in outer part of the breast.

A disadvantage of this breastfeeding position is that a long baby's legs will be hitting the back of the chair that the mother is sitting in. To avoid the mother leaning forward and not being supported by the backrest during the feed the baby's legs can be bent into a squatting position. Another way to help combat this problem is for the mother to use a thick pillow as a cushion so her back is further from the backrest but still supported (this only works well with a wide seat on the chair).

Breastfeeding in the Cradle Position

breastfeeding in the cradle position

Anyone who thinks of breastfeeding positions will know the cradle position straight away, but it's useful to know some of the common mistakes women make so you can try to avoid them for yourself.

The most important parts to get right are getting your baby's body facing your abdomen and making sure you don't restrict their head from tilting backwards. A common reason mothers get nipple soreness in this position is a poor latch. The picture here shows a baby who is too far across their mother. To get a really good latch this baby needs to be moved further to the mothers left side so their head can tilt back a little. This will mean their mouth will be open wider and their tongue will be able to stick out further.

A useful variation of this hold is the Cross Cradle hold where the arm that holds the baby in position is the opposite arm. This can be excellent to help your baby latch on well. It also really helps to use this hold if you have low milk supply because you can use breast compressions to help increase the amount of milk your baby is getting.

Click here for more information and a video about the cradle position

Discreet Breastfeeding in the Carrier

discreet public breastfeeding

Discreetly breastfeeding in your baby carrier can really help you continue to do things while you are up and about even if your baby is hungry.

It will give you the ability to keep to a tighter time schedule if you need to or help you when running after your older child when it's time for your newborn to breastfeed.

It helps you breastfeed without exposing any of your breast to the public and is generally a useful skill to learn.

One pitfall of using this breastfeeding hold is that your baby may then demand to be fed whenever they are in the carrier which is not always something you may wish to do, so be choosy about when you choose to use this hold.

Back to Breastfeeding Babies home page from Breastfeeding Positions


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Does your baby swallow to much air while breastfeeding?

Apart from trying these six breastfeeding positions to see which works well for you, your baby may be having trouble with their latch on.

Watching latching on videos can be really helpful to improve your baby's latch.