The Best Breastfeeding Positions to Try

Article By
Sonni-Ann
Published On
12 Apr, 2023
Read Time
7 minutes

Breastfeeding can initially seem complicated and confusing for some parents and babies. But with a little patience and practice, you'll both soon get into the swing of it and find a breastfeeding position that's comfortable and effective.

There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding, and you don't have to stick to just one or two. You can use a different position for each breastfeeding session if you wish.

You'll probably find that it takes a few tries before you find which positions work well, and the truth is, it's simply a case of trying them out to see which feels best for you and your little one!

Popular breastfeeding positions for newborns

Before you start a breastfeeding session, it's a good idea to make sure you're comfortable and that you have everything you need close by, including a big drink of water to keep you hydrated!

Breastfeeding lying down

There are multiple benefits to breastfeeding positions that allow you to feed while lying down or from bed. These positions can sometimes be more comfortable for parents (especially for those who are recovering from a C-section). They can also be more convenient for night feeds, and potentially help to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms caused by clogged ducts.

Breastfeeding while lying down is safe when done correctly, but it's best to practice these positions during the day, always avoid falling asleep while feeding, and make sure that the space around you is free from excess bedding which could pose a risk to your baby.

Laid-back breastfeeding

laid back breastfeeding

Also known as 'biological nursing', the laid-back breastfeeding position for babies gives you and your baby snug comfort and support. Simply lean back on your bed or in a chair and support yourself with pillows in a position that's semi-reclined. This position encourages your baby to latch on naturally, and all you need do is lie back and relax.

This position is good for:

  • Babies of all sizes
  • Those who want a more relaxed, baby-led feed
  • Feeding twins
  • Parents who want to slow their milk flow

Side-lying

side lying breastfeeding

Breastfeeding lying down on your side is another popular position that lots of parents choose, particularly at night-time.

You and your baby lie side by side facing each other. Rolling up a blanket and putting it behind your baby's back will keep them from rolling away from you. Similarly, you can try using a pillow behind your back or between your knees for extra support. You can also cradle your baby with your forearm along their back to help them feed.

This position is good for:

  • Parents who are recovering from a C-section
  • Night-time feeds
  • Those feeding with bigger breasts

Upright breastfeeding positions

There are a variety of upright breastfeeding positions that can suit little ones of all sizes - including premature babies, parents feeding multiples, and those who are recovering from a C-section delivery. These positions can also help parents who have a strong breast milk let-down, breast engorgement or sore nipples.

Cradle hold

cradle hold breastfeeding

The cradle-hold breastfeeding position is the classic position that probably springs to mind when you think about breastfeeding. Sit upright and position your baby on his or her side, with their neck resting on your forearm and their body positioned against your stomach. Having a cushion behind you is recommended to avoid back strain.

If you decide to use a breastfeeding pillow on your lap, be sure it doesn't position your baby higher than necessary to avoid them straining to latch. This position can often lead to baby's head being forced into an angle while feeding, so it's important to make sure that baby is in a straight line and not off to one side.

This position is good for:

Cross-cradle hold

cross-cradle hold breastfeeding

The cross-cradle hold is like the cradle hold, except that your arms switch roles so that your opposite forearm is supporting your baby's body.

Simply hold your baby in the arm opposite the breast you're feeding from (making sure to support their neck and head). With your other hand, support your breast and cradle your baby close to it.

This position is good for:

  • Babies who need extra head support
  • Babies who have difficulty latching on
  • Small and premature babies

Football hold

football hold breastfeeding

The football hold (sometimes called the 'clutch position') can be achieved by cradling your baby in your arm, using your palm to support their neck, and nestling them closely against your side with their legs tucked underneath your arm.

This position is particularly comfortable for newborn babies. It also helps your baby handle the flow of your breast easier if you have a forceful letdown.

This position is good for:

  • Parents recovering from a C-section
  • Breastfeeding multiples
  • Parents with smaller breasts, inverted/flat nipples, or a strong let-down
  • Parents wanting relief from engorgement or sore nipples
  • Babies with reflux

Straddle hold

straddle hold breastfeeding

The straddle hold - also known as upright breastfeeding or the 'koala hold' - involves sitting upright and positioning baby on your thigh or at your hip. Their spine and head should be upright as they feed.

This position is good for:

Breastfeeding in a sling

breastfeeding in a sling

Parents who're out and about may find that breastfeeding while their baby is in a sling is very convenient and keeps their hands free.

Feeding while wearing a sling is best suited to older babies who can hold their head up independently. It can also be suitable for babies who want the comfort of being close to their mum's body while feeding.

When feeding while wearing a sling, it’s important to make sure you can always see your baby’s face and that their chin isn't pressed in against their chest.

Top tips on good positioning for breastfeeding

  1. Use pillows for support
  2. Always raise baby to nipple height
  3. Let baby attach themselves
  4. Make sure that their body isn't twisted
  5. Change position as your baby grows and gets heavier.

Keeping your baby latched while feeding

Sometimes babies will unlatch mid-feed. If your baby unlatches from your breast during feeding, these top tips should help them to latch on again:

  • Give them a minute before reattaching as they may just want a rest from feeding.
  • Hold them baby close
  • Position your nipple with your baby's nose
  • Touch your nipple against their top lip so they open their mouth
  • Make sure your baby's chin touches your breast.

Then, once they're done feeding, breaking the suction before pulling your baby away from your breast is key to avoiding sore nipples. To help your baby unlatch, try gently inserting your little finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to gently break the suction. Then quickly remove the nipple in case they latch on again.

You can also try very gently pulling down on your baby's chin until their mouth opens wider, then unlatch the nipple.

Avoiding poor breastfeeding positioning

If your baby isn't positioned properly while feeding, your breast milk supply may not be properly stimulated, and your baby may not get enough milk from the feed. Additionally, an incorrect feeding position can lead to a poor latch and painful nipples.

Certain breastfeeding positions should be avoided, including:

  • Having your baby's head facing a different direction than their body - their head shouldn't be turned
  • Hunching your body over your baby while feeding
  • Holding your baby's body too far away from your breast.

Different breast holding techniques to try when breastfeeding

Now that we’ve covered the different position that you and your baby can sit in while breastfeeding, let’s look at the different ways you can hold your breasts while they feed to encourage a good latch that’ll keep you both comfortable.

U-Hold

U breastfeeding hold

Just like the name suggests, hold your breast with your free hand in a U-shape.

This hold supports your breast and lets baby latch correctly. It’s commonly used with side-lying and laid back breastfeeding positions.

Your breast should sit in the palm of your hand. With your thumb on one side of your nipple and your forefinger on the other.

Make sure that your fingers don’t get in the way when your baby is feeding.

C-Hold

C breastfeeding hold

Similar to the U-hold but turned to the side, this hold requires you to position your hand in the shape of the letter C.

To get into the C-hold, place your breast in the palm of your hand with your fingers on the bottom and your thumb on top.

This hold may make it easier to comfortable manoeuvre baby to your breast if you have larger breasts.

V-Hold

V breastfeeding hold

Also known as the scissor grasp, the V-hold is perfect for breastfeeding parents with smaller breasts or slightly inverted nipples. This hold means that baby can put more of the breast in their mouth to achieve a better latch.

Sandwich Hold

sandwich breastfeeding hold

This hold is like the C and V-hold combined with a slight squeeze.

Place your breast in the palm of your hand with your index finger on the bottom and your thumb on top of your nipple. Then gently squeeze your nipple out to avoid your fingers being in the way of baby latching.

Which breastfeeding positions are best if you've had a C-section?

The laid-back or side-lying or football hold positions can be more comfortable for parents who've had a C-section because they keep your baby away from the sensitive abdominal area.

The time it takes to breastfeed your baby depends on a few factors, such as your milk flow, your baby's age, and their alertness at the time of feeding. For example, a sleepy baby will likely take longer to feed than a fully rested baby.

A breastfeeding session with your baby might take anywhere between five and 45 minutes, and the average feed lasts somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes.

If they're frequently only feeding for five minutes at a time, you may want to encourage them to feed for longer and make sure that their weight gain is sufficient. If you're concerned about your baby's breastfeeding habits, don't hesitate to get their feeding position and latch checked by a lactation consultant.

Although it can be helpful to hold and guide your breast into your baby's mouth using a C-hold or V-hold while they're getting used to breastfeeding, you should only need to do this for a short time, as they'll be able to latch on themselves as they get older.