Breastfeeding Positions

Just like every part of being a parent, there’s a learning curve that comes with breastfeeding. Although it happens, most people aren’t naturals right away! A great way to learn about the different ways to breastfeed is by meeting with one of our board certified lactation consultants. While they’re an awesome resource, we also wanted to provide a free resource that discussed different breastfeeding positions, as well as our tips and tricks for the best breastfeeding experience. 

There are about five main breastfeeding positions, although variations on these exist. We’ll break them down so you can choose your favorite and get started! When it comes to breastfeeding, never hesitate to try new things. Start with the position that feels the most natural to you. If one position isn’t working for you and your baby, switch it up!

  1. Cradle position
    1. For this position, cuddle your baby into the crook of your arm, and using that arm support their back and head. With the other arm, gently hold their bottom so they are lying comfortably perpendicular to your breasts. If you’re holding the majority of their weight with your right arm, nurse from your right breast, until you’re ready to switch sides.
  2. Cross-Cradle position
    1. This is similar to the first position, with a slight difference in which arm holds the majority of the baby. For the Cross-Cradle, shift the baby’s back, bottom, and neck to the opposite arm of the breast you’re using to nurse. Using your free hand, support their side or head to make sure they’re lifted enough to receive milk.
  3. Football hold
    1. The football hold is a great option if you’re looking for a one hand free option. Using the arm on the same side as the nursing breast, fully support your baby, allowing their legs to dangle. In this position, your baby should still be perpendicular, but their feet are pointing away from your body. 
  4. Laid back positions
    1. It’s important to be comfortable when you’re breastfeeding, and this position certainly helps! If you’re wanting to lay down during a nursing session, cradle your baby in the arm on the same side as the nursing breast, using good care to support their neck. You can also prop yourself up with a pillow to help get a good angle.
  5. Side Lying
    1. Lying down on your side allows your baby to do the same! When side lying, the surface you’re lying on holds your baby up, and they can nurse without a lot of support. If necessary, you can use your arm to support their neck or back.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to start when you’re looking for the right position to try out. Check out this graphic for a visual representation of the different nursing positions. 

Once you’ve found a position you like, there may still be some troubleshooting to get the most out of your breastfeeding session. Here are some of our tips and tricks for frequent breastfeeding issues. 

  • For any of the positions, if you’re still experiencing difficulties, try using a pillow to support your baby’s weight! One of our favorites is the “my breastfriend”. The firmness of the pillow can help with getting good positioning, not to mention saving your arm! 
  • Whether using a pillow or not, allow your baby to dangle their feet. When their feet aren’t loose, it can cause clenching which can be painful for you!
  • If you’re experiencing some pain or discomfort, try adjusting to make sure your baby’s mouth is coming over the nipple as much as possible. This should relieve the pain.
  • Finally, if your baby falls asleep, don’t worry! This is pretty common. To remove your baby from your breast after they’ve fallen asleep, use the fish hook method. By placing one finger like a fish hook in their mouth, it will release their clench and you can put them down to sleep!

Claire Dowell