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5 Best Breastfeeding Positions for New Moms

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Breastfeeding a newborn is more than a full time job. New babies eat 8-12+ times per day, around the clock. With each nursing session can take 20-40 minutes, that’s a ton of time spent holding and feeding your little one. As such, it’s really important that you’re comfortable. Nursing in uncomfortable positions can strain your neck, back, and arms. Babies need to be supported and comfortable too, to help them settle and nurse effectively. Let’s explore the best breastfeeding positions for new moms. 

Laid-Back Nursing Position

Also known as the natural or biological nursing position, the laid-back nursing position is a great first breastfeeding position to try. This position uses comfortable reclining and lots of arm support. Moms get comfortable in a reclining chair, hospital bed, or regular bed with lots of supportive pillows under the back and arms. Baby lies tummy-to-tummy with mom, with his feet pointing down toward mom’s lap. Babies in this position have the freedom to use their natural rooting reflexes to help them latch on. It’s amazing to watch how capable newborns are of finding the nipple and latching on in this position. 

Cradle Hold

The cradle hold is the “classic” breastfeeding position. In this position, the baby lies horizontally across mom’s body. Their head is supported in the crook of mom’s elbow, and their bottom typically can be supported by mom’s hand. This position can be a bit difficult with a brand new baby who doesn’t have much head control, but once you and baby get into a good nursing groove this is a very common way to feed your baby. Just be sure to have good support under your arms so that you’re not holding your baby’s entire weight for the length of the feeding. 

Cross-Cradle Hold

With the cross-cradle hold, the baby’s body lies horizontally across mom’s body like the cradle hold. However in this position, mom supports baby’s head with the hand of the opposite side she’s feeding on. So if the baby is latching onto mom’s right breast, mom supports baby’s head with her left hand. The baby’s body rests against the mom’s arm. This position is helpful with newborns who don’t have good head control, and you have more dexterity to help them latch with your hand. As always, make sure that baby’s head is in alignment with their body. If their head is turned to one side, they can develop a sore neck and mom can experience nipple pain from an uneven latch. 

Side-Lying Position

The side-lying position is just as it sounds: nursing lying down. In this position, moms lie on one side and lay the baby down parallel to their body. Baby latches onto the breast closer to the mattress while mom supports her head with her lower arm or, ideally, several pillows. This is a wonderful position after a Cesarean, since baby isn’t resting on your abdomen. This position can take a bit of practice to master, but it’s well worth it. A good pillow set up for your head helps prevent your lower arm from falling asleep!

Football Hold 

The football hold is often not one that new parents think of, but it’s very comfortable for many moms. In this position, you really hold baby just like a football, tucked in close to your body with their feet pointing toward the side of mom’s body. This is another great breastfeeding position for C-section moms, since baby’s little toes are nowhere near your incision. It’s also a great position for moms with large breasts or those tandem nursing twins. 

Try New Breastfeeding Positions

Being able to nurse in different positions has many benefits. The baby can more effectively drain different areas of your breast, which helps to prevent issues like plugged ducts and mastitis. When you use different breastfeeding positions throughout the day and night, you help to “spread the load” to different muscles so that one area of your body isn’t getting too strained. Mastering a variety of nursing positions also grants you more freedom to nurse in different places, so you’re not bound to one specific chair or bed. 

New breastfeeding positions take time to master. Remember to stop and re-latch if your baby’s latch feels painful. Make use of different breastfeeding pillows to see what works best for you. Have a helper at the ready to tuck pillows under your arm, or a folded receiving blanket under baby’s head, to help you maintain that perfect latch once you get it right. The best breastfeeding sessions happen when both mom and baby are relaxed and comfortable. As your baby grows and gains more muscle strength, they’ll be able to latch on in different positions with ease.