Comfortable breastfeeding posture helps the mother to relax and calm down, and the baby to grasp the breast correctly and confidently produce milk.
Breastfeeding position — it’s how the mother holds the baby in her arms during feeding, and how they are positioned in relation to each other.
It is best to choose the most comfortable feeding positions right away. What do you need to think about? Where will be more comfortable: in a chair, on a sofa on a soft chair with a backrest.
Prepare a few pillows of different sizes and density, as well as a bench or a pack of diapers under the supporting leg or legs.
The first feeding position is called the cradle, which is how moms take their babies in their arms while humming them a lullaby. Mom sits comfortably in the chair, placing pillows under the elbow of her supporting arm (depending on which breast she will feed her baby). This is necessary to fix the arm so that it is not suspended during feeding. It is important to use the pads to raise the elbow so that the baby’s mouth and the breast nipple are at the same level, then it will be easier for the baby to make a good grip and the sucking process will be most comfortable and effective. The palm of your other hand can hold the baby’s back.
2. Reverse cradle
The reverse cradle position differs from the previous one in that the mother supports and guides the baby’s head with the palm of her hand.
Place a pillow under her back and under her supporting arm.
In this nursing position, hold the baby’s head with the opposite hand from the nursing breast (when nursing with your left breast, hold the baby with your right hand and vice versa). Place your palm on your back and your thumb and forefinger on the baby’s head. If you need to hold the breast from below, you can do it with the other (free) hand.
In this position, the mother has more opportunity to help the baby with both hands to grasp the breast correctly. This is useful in the first days after birth, as well as for babies born prematurely or with low birth weight.
3 Lying on your side
This is the position most moms use during night feedings.
- Lie on your side, leaning on your elbow. Put a pillow under your head and your back.
- Lay the baby on his side facing you so that his nose is at nipple level and his chin touches the breast. If necessary, pillows are also used to lay the baby on. When the baby tilts his head back and opens his mouth wide, help him take the areola correctly.
- This posture is helpful when the mother is tired or weakened by difficult labor, anesthesia, surgery, when it is necessary to save strength and avoid any additional stresses.
4. Relaxed position
This feeding pose makes it easier for the baby to take the breast and helps both the mother and the baby to be as relaxed as possible. It is important to feed in this position for the first few days and later when you want maximum comfort.
Mom is positioned almost half lying down, head and shoulders raised and resting on pillows, many of them will be needed to provide an elevated head end.
The baby lies on the mother, belly to belly if the temperature allows, providing skin-to-skin contact, which contributes to the additional production of oxytocin.
In this position it is comfortable for the baby to find the mother’s breast and make a good grip.
When the baby’s nose is at the level of the nipple, the baby tilts his head back and grips both the nipple and the areola with his mouth.
The mother’s hand should not support the back of the head, which is uncomfortable for the baby, but his shoulders and neck. The breast can be lightly supported without disturbing the baby.
The most common breastfeeding positions help in the first days after birth and beyond.
It is not the variety that matters, but the feeling of comfort of the baby and mother, which additional devices — pillows, slings help to provide.
5. Feeding while sitting
This position is suitable for babies older than 6 months. You should put your baby on your knee, facing you, with your tummy against your belly, supporting him/her by the shoulders.
A few helpful tips to help while breastfeeding:
- Hold your baby so that you are comfortable feeding him or her;
- Try to get a comfortable position in a chair with a supportive backrest. Put pillows under your back and neck;
- During feeding, mom is often thirsty. Therefore, prepare warm water or other beverage in advance;
- Hold the baby so that the baby’s nose and the nipple of your breast were at the same level;
- As soon as the baby tilts his head back slightly, put the nipple on his upper lip, this will help him open his mouth wide;
- Support your baby not by the head — it should move freely, and for the neck and shoulders;
- When your baby opens his/her mouth wide, you should bring him/her to the breast (and help him/her to take it), not vice versa;
- If the baby takes the breast correctly, the baby’s lower lip will be turned away, and your aureole (the dark skin around the nipple) over the baby’s upper lip can be seen, but not under the lower lip;
- It is not necessary to support the breast while feeding, and you should support the whole breast without squeezing it or placing your fingers too close to the nipple areolae;
- Your baby’s cheeks look round and full while feeding. When the baby swallows milk, there is noticeable movement around the ear;
- When positioned correctly, the baby should be facing his mother with his whole body, and his tummy should always rest against his mother’s belly;
- It makes sense to let the baby touch your breast freely during feeding, this will help the best secretion of milk;
- Sometimes the baby stops during feeding, do not worry, it is normal;
- If you need to change position and interrupt the breastfeeding you should gently put your finger between your baby’s mouth and the nipple, and then the baby will let go of your breast and you can change the position;
- Try to feed from one breast for at least 20 minutes. More is possible);
- The baby sometimes falls asleep during feeding, in which case you need to gently wake him up.
Elena Demchenko graduated from Donetsk Medical Institute named after M. Gorky with a degree in pediatrics.
Work experience in medicine: district pediatrician, neonatologist of the department of nursing extremely premature babies, joint stay of mother and child, resuscitation and intensive care of newborns.