Finding the most natural positon and attachment for you, your breasts, your baby and your lifestyle can sometimes be a simple case of trial and error. We receive lots of information about the ‘best’ way to feed our little ones, but sometimes the ‘best’ way should simply be – ‘what works for you?’ We’ve put together a guide on the most common breastfeeding positions so that you can figure out the most comfortable method to nourish and connect with your little milk monster!
There are several ways that you can approach breastfeeding. All baby mammals have an instinctual ‘rooting reflex’, which means that your little one will naturally seek out the nipple from birth. These ‘rooting reflexes’ include sticking their tongue out, wriggling and moving their head from side to side. These reflexes are also early signals of hunger in your baby and give you an indication that they are ready to feed. It’s always easier to try new breastfeeding positions on a slightly hungry and accepting baby than a ravenous boob-seeking missile!
Baby-led attachment means that the baby finds their own way to the breast with minimal guidance from the mother. When trying baby-led breastfeeding, it’s easier to use a reclining chair or prop some pillows up on a bed so that you are relaxed and comfortable. Lie back in a reclining position and allow the baby to snuggle comfortably on your chest. Allow the baby some time to search, snuffle and wriggle their way towards your breast. You can provide some support and guidance but the idea is to allow the baby to use their natural instincts to find and attach to your breast.
Baby lying across stomach or shoulder
Laid-back Breastfeeding after Caesarean
Baby lying vertically across you to protect wound
I enjoyed baby-led feeding at home as I had a summer baby and could recline topless in a chair with my new little girl and relax, slowly enjoying skin-to-skin contact and allowing her to take her time feeding. However reclining topless in the local shopping centre didn’t really appeal to me (well maybe once or twice) so I also used mother-led attachment in situations where I couldn’t recline or I wanted to be more discreet.
This is where the mother cradles the baby and holds them against her breast. There are several positions you can use and although you are more involved in helping your baby feed, you should never push their head into your breast. Too much guidance may make your little one reject the breast.
Cradle Hold: this is the most common form of mother led-attachment and for me was the easiest position to use when feeding in public because I could access my breasts more readily. You can hold your arms in whichever position is most comfortable for you.
Cradle Hold (same arm)
Hold your baby across your lap and support her with the same arm as your breast.
Cradle Hold (opposite arm)
Hold your baby across your lap and support her with the opposite arm as your breast.
Side-Lying Hold: I used to do this at night with my daughter after her bath and before bed. We’d snuggle on her play mat and I loved how she would wriggle into me and then roll over like a little milk drunkard once she’d had her fill. If you are absolutely exhausted then be careful to ensure you don’t fall asleep yourself.
Lie down with your bodies parallel and your baby held closely against your body.
Rugby Hold: This is a great hold for women with larger breasts as it allows you to more easily support your breast away from your baby’s face.
Rugby Ball Hold
Hold your baby under your arm – you may want to use a nursing pillow for this one.
Koala Hold: My daughter loves this position now that she’s older. She likes to climb in my lap and sample each boob before deciding which one she will have first. This is easier if your little one has head control.
Support your baby while she’s straddled across your knees or lap in an upright position.
Twin Hold: This one is for the skilled and amazing mums who manage to feed two bubbas at one time!
Use a cushion under your babies and support them with your hands on their upper backs.
Remember that breastfeeding takes time, practise and a lot of patience so always do what is most comfortable, most accessible and most importantly – most enjoyable – for you and your little one!
If you are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding then contact your local community nurse or qualified lactation consultant.
Images courtesy of the Baby Center Australia website.
Add your own breastfeeding tips, hint and suggestions in the comments section below.