Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time and it’s wired into both your and your baby’s DNA. But for many new mothers, learning how to breastfeed comfortably and efficiently takes practice. Both you and your baby are beginners at this, and you may need to try a few different breastfeeding positions before baby’s latch is perfected and you can establish a good rhythm.
Remember that there are no right or wrong breastfeeding positions – as long as they work for you and your baby, you’re good!
Before you can breastfeed, your body must make the milk available to your baby through the let-down reflex. This reflex is triggered automatically when your baby sucks on your nipple and hormones in your body signal to your breasts to release the milk. Actually, for some women just thinking about their baby or hearing a baby crying is enough to activate the let-down reflex – even if it’s not their baby! Sometimes, the milk lets down with no particular reason at all. If your breasts often end up leaking at inconvenient times, stick some breast pads in your bra to prevent your shirt from getting soaked.
So, your milk has let down – now all you need is for your baby to latch on properly to your nipple. Because even if there’s no right or wrong breastfeeding position, there is such a thing as a poor latch, and it can make breastfeeding a real pain. The reason why breastfeeding consultants always talk about baby’s latch, is that a good latch helps the baby get the most milk and can help prevent many common breastfeeding problems like sore nipples . A good latch is comfortable and pain-free. If you’re having problems. With your baby’s latch, try these simple steps:
Hold your baby close and tickle their mouth with your nipple until it opens up wide.
Aim your nipple toward your baby’s upper lip and tilt their head slightly back.
Lead your baby to the breast chin first and let them latch on. Baby’s latch should be deep, and their mouth should be full of your breast.
Three common breastfeeding positions
Football-hold breastfeeding. Outside of the U.S., the football-hold breastfeeding position is usually called the “rugby hold” or the “clutch hold” but they all essentially mean the same thing – a position where the baby lies on a pillow at your side with their head resting in your hand and their body supported by your arm. The football-hold breastfeeding position is especially beneficial if you’ve had a C-section, since it keeps the weight of the baby away from the incision.
Side-lying breastfeeding. In the side-lying breastfeeding position, your baby feeds while you’re both lying on your sides, facing each other. In this position, you may want to prop up your back with some pillows and use the arm on the side that you’re lying on to cradle your baby’s back. Many mothers find the side-lying breastfeeding position comfortable and especially convenient for night feedings. It’s also good for women who have had a C-section.
Laid-back breastfeeding. This is often one of the better breastfeeding positions for newborn babies, since the skin-to-skin contact encourages your baby to search for the breast and latch on by itself. With laid-back breastfeeding, you sit leaned back with the baby on their tummy on your chest, while supporting the baby’s head and body with your hands as needed. Laid-back breastfeeding is popular among women who prefer a relaxed, baby-led approach to breastfeeding, since it supports the baby’s natural instincts.