Feeding position refers to the way you hold your baby while you breastfeed.
This is very important for successful breastfeeding, especially in the first few days after birth when your milk is beginning to be produced.
When you hold your baby correctly, your baby can latch on to your breast well. When the latch is correct, your baby can get more milk through suckling. When your baby removes more milk from your breasts by suckling, your breasts begin to produce more milk.
A good feeding position – which allows a good latch and effective suckling – therefore ensures that you have enough breastmilk and succeed at breastfeeding.
What are the aims of achieving a good feeding position?
- You should be comfortable
Your back and shoulders should not ache while breastfeeding.
You should not experience nipple soreness. (Read our blog to know more about nipple soreness while breastfeeding).
You should not suffer from blocked ducts or mastitis. (Mastitis is a painful condition in which an area of the breast turns red and hot and gets swollen. When it is left untreated, it can cause fever, fatigue and chills).
- Your baby should be comfortable
The head and body should be in a straight line to allow easy swallowing.
Your baby should be able to tilt his / her head back easily.
Almost the entire areola should be inside your baby’s mouth.
Your baby should not keep falling asleep at the breast during the feed.
Your baby should not get frustrated during the feed.
What are the various feeding positions?
You and your baby will find a position you like in a few days. Until you do – begin with these positions.
- The cross cradle hold:
This feeding position is best for newborn babies.
Sit in a reclined position
If you are feeding your baby at the right breast – support your breast with your right hand and your baby with the left hand.
You should be abdomen to abdomen with your baby.
In this position your baby can take the lead while latching.
Your role is to support the head and your breast as required.
- The cradle hold:
Once you are comfortable with the way your baby is latching on, you can move to this hold.
Sit with your back straight in a comfortable chair.
If you are feeding your baby at your right breast, cradle their head in the crook of your right arm.
Turn your baby so that you are abdomen to abdomen.
Then lift your baby and offer the breast while supporting and shaping it with your left hand.
- The football hold:
This position is good if you are in pain because of a cesarean section.
In this hold – you place the baby on a pillow next to you while you sit up straight.
If you are feeding your baby at the right breast make sure your baby’s head is in your right palm and their legs are tucked under your right elbow.
Support your breast with your left hand and lift your baby up to latch onto the breast.
- The side lying position:
This position is useful if you have had a cesarean section. But you must never fall asleep while feeding in this position as it could lead to the baby getting suffocated.
To feed at the right breast, lie on your right side.
Support your baby with your right hand and your breast with your left hand.
Spend time exploring and discovering which feeding position works best for you. Stick with this position until you and your baby have perfected the art of latching and feeding. This will ensure a smooth breastfeeding journey for both of you.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 6 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.