4 breastfeeding positions to help newborns latch properly

4 breastfeeding positions to help newborns latch properly

Just because it’s a natural process doesn’t mean breastfeeding comes naturally – even mothers giving birth to their second and third child can struggle with nursing because every child is different.

Ensuring a proper latch and actually hearing the baby swallow can help mothers know their newborn is breastfeeding, says Cindy Clark, lactation consultant at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

A successful breastfeeding session typically begins with proper positioning, Clark says. She recommends the following four positions:

  1. Cradle: Sit with your baby lengthwise across your abdomen. Your elbow supports his head and your hand supports his bottom. Your other hand supports your breast.
  2. Cross-cradle: Lay your baby on his side. If feeding from the left breast, use your right arm to support baby’s body and your right hand to support her head. Your fingers support your left breast.
  3. Football: Hold your baby at your side, like a football, face up. If nursing on your right side, use your right arm to support the baby and guide his head to your breast. A variation of this is a semi-sitting football position, good for babies just a few days old who still are very sleepy. With this position, the baby is sitting on his bottom with the breast directly in front of him. “It imprints with them, ‘Oh, this is that position of sitting. We use this for feeding.’ So then they focus and stay more alert for feeding,” Clark said. “If I have sleepy babies, I really like to use this position.”
  4. Sideline or side-lying: Lie on your side and lay your baby on his side facing you, chest to chest. Bring baby toward you, supporting his head with your free arm. This position is good for moms who need to recline for rest, but be careful not to fall asleep while nursing because this can be dangerous.

For all positions, it’s helpful to have a nursing pillow or a pile of regular bed pillows to prop up your baby or lean against, Clark says.

To watch Clark and another lactation consultant demonstrate proper positioning, check out this video.

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About the Author

Lisa Parro
Lisa Parro

Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.