How to Position for Breastfeeding

Many moms breastfeed and prefer to breastfeed, because they want their baby to get only the best. They truly believe breastfeeding can help their baby as it does have many benefits to it.

When it comes to breastfeeding many new moms do not know how to approach it, which ends up in confusion, frustration, and even baby not getting the adequate amount of breast milk they need.

There are many positions or holds for you and your baby to go about. You don’t have to stick to one, but instead can try a few depending on the situation. You need to keep in mind that proper positioning is important so that your baby can get that strong proper ‘suck’ without any additional air intake. How to position for breastfeeding will show the many positions available that will let you choose which one suits you and your baby the best.

Laid-back or reclined position

This position really says it all in its same; laid-back or reclined. It refers to how mom is positioned, and how mom can be reclined in a comfortable positioning while she breastfeeds her little one. Your little one will have that tendency to lean towards the location of your breasts, which allows for you to ‘lye’ or ‘recline’ back for the feeding session to start. This is referred to as the ‘biological nurturing’.

  • You find a comfortable place to sit and recline into.
  • Place a pillow behind your back for added support (optional).
  • Have your baby in an upright position resting on your body and facing you.
  • Begin feeding your little one, and just make sure nothing is blocking your little one’s nose from breathing.

Cradle hold

This ‘tummy to mummy’ position is a classic one that many moms go to when it comes to breastfeeding. This hold is not always easy, because it doesn’t give your baby as much support as the other one’s. But with proper positioning of mom and baby, feeding will be successful.

  • Start off in a sitting position.
  • Place a nursing pillow over your lap.
  • Lay your little one on their side on the pillow.
  • Both arms will be holding and supporting your baby.
  • Your breast should be at a level where baby is at their resting height.

Cross-cradle hold

The cross-cradle hold (also known as the cross-over hold) is similar to the cradle hold, but the difference is this position provides more support to your baby’s overall position. Its a good position for newborns with smaller weights or latching difficulties.

  • Start off in a sitting position.
  • Place a nursing pillow over your lap.
  • Lay your little one on their side on the pillow.
  • Provide minimal support and pressure to your baby’s head and neck area with the opposite arm from your breast side (left arm for right breast, right arm for left breast).

Rugby ball hold

If you ever watched rugby and how they hold the ball when they play, then your go to go. No it’s ok, you don’t have to watch rugby and breastfeed your baby at the same time. This is a good position for newborns in their early stages of breastfeeding. It lets your baby stay comfortable, but most importantly lets you see your baby’s face, how well their feeding, and make the necessary adjustments. Your baby will feel safe since they are close to you.

  • Start off in a sitting or semi-reclined position.
  • You can place a couple pillows behind you so you can stay comfortable.
  • Place a nursing pillow on the side you wish to breastfeed on.
  • Lay your baby (tucked closely) on the nursing pillow next to you on the side you plan to breastfeed on.
  • Have your same-side arm holding/supporting their body as they continue to feed.

Side-lying position

The side-lying position is great for moms that have had a c-section, and don’t want to put any pressure onto their bellies. It can be used during the night for a relaxed feed as well, or even when your exhausted and just want to lay down. With this position you are lying down on your side, which is more comfortable than sitting. This is sometimes referred to as ‘belly-to-belly’ position.

  • Lay on the desired side of choice in a sofa or bed.
  • Place your baby on their side, close to you, and facing you.
  • Your baby will breastfeed on the side that your breast is touching either sofa or bed surface.
  • You can do the same thing when you alternate sides.

Laid-back after a c-section

This position can also be used for when you have had a c-section, and don’t want to place any pressure on your belly.

  • First you start off by either laying down flat or you can recline a little if it’s not too uncomfortable.
  • Have your baby lay onto their stomach coming from the same side you want them to breastfeed on, but at a 90 degree angle from your breast and body.
  • Your baby can rest their head onto your chest, and you can support their head as they continue to feed.

Upright or koala hold

Upright or koala hold can be used for multiple reasons. It can be used for when your baby can sit-up unaided since this position entails your baby to sit-up on your lap. This hold is considered to be a popular one for babies who suffer from reflux or ear-infections, and would rather prefer to stay upright. Also, it can work for babies who have a tongue-tie or low muscle tone.

  • Start off by sitting in a comfortable seat/chair.
  • Place some pillows behind your back if available for more comfort.
  • Place your baby in a sitting position on top of your lap facing you to ‘straddle your thigh’.
  • Place one hand around their body for support.
  • Other hand can either support head, breast, or just be free.

Dangle Position

The dangle position is not commonly used, and it might not be a position you want to try on a regular basis. Some moms have claimed that it can unplug blocked ducts through gravity. Others have said it has helped with Mastitis and don’t want to place too much pressure directly on their breasts. You can always try it and even mix things up a little, and see if it’s a position you might want to try again.

  • Lay your baby on their back flat.
  • You can either: crouch over your baby on all fours, and dangle your nipple into their mouth, or you can dangle feed while you sit, or kneeling up over your baby in a bed or sofa, or you can lye down almost completely flat but propped up on your arms.
  • Place pillows wherever needed for extra support, so you don’t have to strain or work your muscles even more.

Nursing in a sling

This nursing position is all about breastfeeding in either a sling, wrap, or even a front carrier. The position serves for those little one’s that have experience and can hold their head up without support. It’s also great when you need to do chores at home, or even when you need your hands free when your out and about. Your baby can breastfeed as they please, which allows you to have those extra set of hands.

  • Choose your method of support (wrap, sling, or front carrier).
  • Place your baby snug inside choice of sling facing you, but not too tight.
  • Begin breastfeeding ensuring baby’s nose and breathing is not effected.

Double rugby ball hold

Also known as the ‘double clutch’, the double rugby ball hold lots of moms are not familiar with, but it works great when you have twins. You might want to find a nursing pillow designed for two babies, and for inexperienced breast feeders. This position will allow your twin babies to get that extra support, and minimizes pressure to your belly if a c-section occurred. Also, the double rugby ball hold lets your hands be free which allows for you to attend to your babies when you need to.

  • Start off by either sitting up straight or in a semi-reclined position.
  • You can place pillows behind your back for added support and comfort.
  • Place your special nursery pillow over your lap.
  • Lay each baby (tucked closely) on both sides next to your body on top of the nursing pillow.
  • Left arm can support left-sided baby, and right arm can support right-sided baby.

Dancer hand nursing position

The dancer hand nursing position is great for newborn babies that have either had: issues latching, low muscle tone, was born prematurely, Down’s Syndrome, or even born with an illness or a disability. This position will give your baby plenty of support as you will control ultimate position and direction for you and your baby, because you will be able to see directly how well your baby is latching and feeding.

  • You can either sit upright or be in a semi-reclined position.
  • Place your baby on your lap in a sitting position facing you.
  • With your dominant hand, ‘cup’ your breast from underneath with fingers on both sides of your breast.
  • Form a ‘U’ shape with your thumb and index finger.
  • The remaining fingers should continue to hold your breast for support.
  • Rest your baby’s jaw on your thumb and index finger as they feed, while your baby’s chin rests at the bottom of the ‘U’.

Football hold

If you have ever watched football and see how football players hold/carry the ball when they run with it, then you have an advantage here with this hold. No, you don’t have to watch football to get this hold correct. This position is best for mothers who have had a c-section, and don’t want to place any pressure onto the belly. Also, you can use this position if you have twins, large breasts or flat nipples, or a newborn that has issues latching on.

  • Find a comfortable place to sit in.
  • You can place pillows behind your back for added support, so you can stay relaxed.
  • A nursing pillow can be placed over your lap as an option.
  • Position your baby face up, tucked closely, and on the same side you plan to breastfeeding on.
  • If breastfeeding on the right side: your right arm will be supporting your baby’s shoulder, head, and neck area.
  • That same arm and hand should be guiding your baby to proper latching and feeding.
  • The other arm can be available for additional support if needed.

Proper positioning leads to proper feedings

With the many breastfeeding holds and positions listed, you can try out a few and see which position is best for you and your baby. Proper positioning will lead to proper feeding, which will lead to proper weight gains to your baby.

No one is perfect, and it will take time and practice to get properly positioned. If you still continue to have issues latching and/or breastfeeding, then try consulting a lactation specialist. The easiest way to find a lactation specialist is by calling the same hospital you delivered your baby in.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and have greatly benefited from it. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know.

2 thoughts on “How to Position for Breastfeeding”

  1. Wow, lots of great information! I never knew about the dangle position- wish I knew about it when I suffered from mastitis. My son had an anterior lip tie, which made breastfeeding a little more difficult Initially. We eventually revised it, and what a difference it made!

    • Hello there and thank you for commenting.
      There are many positions available to you, and yes you choose whichever one suits you and your baby.


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