Proper positioning when breastfeeding your newborn can make a big difference during early nursing when the baby – and mom – are adjusting to feeding.
Sandi Brown, registered nurse and lactation consultant at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, said the key to getting a newborn baby in the proper position is to always support the two areas of the baby that have the most weight – the head and the buttocks.
“If you aren’t supporting the head, it is harder for them to suck properly,” Brown said. “They will be just on the nipple and not nursing deep enough.”
Brown encourages a few different positions so mom can try to find a comfortable way to hold the baby for nursing.
Cradling the baby in your right arm while nursing on the right breast – and the left arm for the left breast – is often the position that most mothers naturally try first. The nursing mother should sit up straight in a comfortable chair preferably with armrests. The baby’s head will be cradled in the crook of your elbow while facing your breast.
Cross cradle hold
This position is similar to the cradle hold, except you will use your right arm to cradle the baby onto the left breast – and vice versa – and your right hand will support the baby’s head and neck.
In both the cradle and cross cradle hold, a pillow on your lap can make the position more comfortable and offer some added support under your arm.
This position might be comfortable for moms who are recovering from a C-section or who have large breasts. You will hold the baby like you would hold a football, with your right hand for the right breast with the baby’s head cradled in your right hand and your baby’s feet and legs toward your back.
In this position, you will lie on your side with the baby next to you, supporting the baby’s head with your opposite arm and breastfeed on the side closest to the baby.
This position should only be used when you are alert enough to stay awake to avoid the risk of falling asleep with the baby in your bed and possibly smothering the child. Once the baby is finished nursing, he or she should be returned to his own sleeping space, the Mayo Clinic recommends.