Positions for Breastfeeding

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Posted on: August 11th, 2017by Ivana Stamenkovic

Even though breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world, it takes time and practice to learn how to hold and support your baby. But once you find a comfortable position - you'll enjoy it. For successful breastfeeding, it's very important that you find the most comfortable position for both you and your baby. After all, you'll spend hours and hours in that position.

The four main positions are the cradle hold, the crossover hold, the clutch (football hold) and the reclining position.

The Cradle Position

First, you need to sit in a chair or on a bed. Choose a chair that has supportive armrests. And if you prefer the bed, puts some pillows behind you. Your feet should be raised (on a coffee table or any other raised surface). That way you won't lean down toward your baby. You should hold your baby in your lap (or on a pillow in your lap, especially during the first few weeks). Cradle her head with the crook of your arm and tuck her lower arm under your own. Her face, stomach, and knees should be directly facing you, and you should support her neck, spine, and bottom with your hand.

This position is most commonly used after the first few weeks when the baby has stronger neck muscles. If you have had a caesarian section, you may find it uncomfortable since it puts pressure on the abdomen.

The Cross-cradle Position

In this position, your arms switch roles, so you support your baby's head with the opposite hand - if you want to breastfeed from the right breast, you support your breast with the right hand and your baby's head with the left hand. Her face, stomach, and knees should be directly facing you, and you should support her head with your fingers. You should put your thumb and index finger behind each ear so that her neck lies between those two fingers and in the palm of your hand.

This position is best for newborns who have difficulties with latching on as it allows mothers to direct their mouth to the nipple.

The Clutch (Football) Position

First, you should position your baby under your arm, on the same side that you're nursing from. She should be facing you, and her feet should be pointing toward your back. Put her head in your hand, and support her back with your arm. With the opposite hand, you should support the breast your nursing from.

This position might be your choice if you have had a caesarian section, since this way you avoid having the baby rest on your stomach. It's useful in many other situations, too. If you have flat nipples, large breasts or your milk ejection reflex ('let down') is too strong, this position might be your choice. And it's quite popular among mothers of twins.

The Side-lying Position

In this position, you lie on your bed. Your back and hips should be in a straight line. You can achieve this by using a few pillows (under your head and shoulders, behind your back and between your knees). Put a pillow behind your baby's back, too, to keep her from rolling away from you. Your baby's face, stomach, and knees should be directly facing you. You can cradle her head with the hand of your bottom arm or with your top arm, whatever feels best for both of you. In any way, your baby shouldn't strain to reach your nipple, and you shouldn't lean down toward her.

This position is especially comfortable right after the delivery when sitting up is still too difficult for you, or at night so you don't have to get up.

Breast Support Techniques

There are two breast support techniques that remove the weight of the breast from your baby's chin. This way you'll allow her to breastfeed more efficiently.

'C' hold - In this hold, you should support your breast with your thumb on top and the others fingers underneath, forming the letter 'C'.
'U' hold - In this hold, you should support breast with your thumb (on the outer area of your breast) and your index finger (on the inner area) forming the letter 'U'.

In both holds your fingers should be away from your areola and your baby's mouth.

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