Breastfeeding positions

There are many ways to hold your baby while breastfeeding. Different positions work best in different situations. Experiment to see what works best for you.

How should I hold my baby when breastfeeding?

Sit or lie down in a relaxed position. Baby should be well-supported and held close, with his tummy resting against your body. Baby's nose should point towards your nipple, so he doesn’t have to turn his head. For a deep latch, baby needs to open wide to get plenty of breast in his mouth. Once your baby has latched on correctly, he will be able to suckle easily. Get yourself as comfortable as you can. Different positions may be better, depending on whether you are at home or away. There are all kinds of breastfeeding positions: conventional cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, clutch hold, side-lying hold, laid-back position. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Laid-back position - what do I have to do?

For the laid-back breastfeeding position, you lean backwards in a chair, or on a sofa or bed. Get yourself in a comfortable, relaxed position, ideally with pillows behind your back and support under your arms. Your baby should lie on top of you, tummy to tummy, just below your breast. Also known as the biological nurturing position, this ‘no-hold’ triggers primitive newborn reflexes. Baby will seek out your breast, start rooting and get ready to suckle. Baby will find your breast for herself, while you support and hold her. When baby is ready, she will open wide and latch on. She may move her head now and then, to ease her nose away from your body. It’s fine to help baby if needed.

Cross-cradle hold - what do I have to do?

In the cross-cradle hold, you sit with your baby lying on a pillow in front of you. Sit so that you are comfortable and fairly upright, relaxing your shoulders. Support your baby's back and neck using your right hand and forearm to let baby feed from your left breast. To reverse the position, hold baby with your left arm to let her feed from your right breast. You can shape and support your breast using your free hand. Your baby will be lying on her side, close to you and with her nose by your nipple. Gently support your baby’s neck; do not push. Avoid holding or pushing the back of your baby’s head. That way, you can quickly pull your baby towards you when she opens wide, making it easier for her to latch on correctly.

Conventional cradle hold - what do I have to do?

In the conventional cradle hold, you sit with your baby resting in the crook of your arm. Get into a relaxed seated position, with a pillow on your lap to support your arms. Sit fairly upright, relaxing your shoulders if tensed. Hold baby close, with his tummy resting against your body. Baby’s nose should be level with your nipple. Stroke baby’s upper lip with your nipple to trigger the rooting reflex and encourage baby to open wide so he latches on correctly. Then pull your baby towards you when he opens wide. Some mothers find they have to mould their breast, so that it fits baby’s mouth more easily.

Clutch hold - what do I have to do?

Sit with baby positioned at your side. When breastfeeding from your right breast, baby’s body will be tucked under your right arm, and vice versa for the left breast. Sit fairly upright, so you are comfortable and relaxed. Your baby should be lying on one or more cushions, level with your breast. You may need to twist your body a little to give baby room against your back. Baby lies on his side, close to you and with his nose by your nipple. Gently support your baby’s neck; do not push. Avoid holding or pushing the back of your baby’s head. You can mould and support your breast using your free hand. Pull baby towards you when he opens wide. This encourages him to latch on correctly.

Side-lying hold - what do I have to do?

Lie down in a comfortable, relaxed position, so you can rest while breastfeeding. You should be lying well over on your side, ideally with your hip flexed, your behind sticking out, and your knees bent. It can be a good idea to place a pillow beneath your head and let your shoulder rest against the mattress. You are now ready to nurse baby from your lower breast. If you have large/soft breasts, you can lie on a thin pillow, or place a folded cloth beneath your breast. This positions your nipple at a better angle for baby. Your baby will be lying by your side, close to you and with her nose by your nipple. Gently supporting her neck, pull baby towards you when she opens wide to encourage her to latch on well.