The Best Breastfeeding Positions

Breastfeeding offers a steady stream of much-needed nutrition for infants and can significantly boost the immune system. Not only that, this intimate activity nurtures a healthy bond between the mother and the infant. Breastfeeding is not only healthier than baby formula; it also saves time and is cheaper. There are many breastfeeding positions available and because each case is unique, a mother may need different breastfeeding position; for example some babies may require more coaxing while others accept breastfeeding much more easily. These are four common breastfeeding positions:

Cradle Position

When using this position you should put the baby comfortably on your lap and position the baby’s mouth within reach of the nipple. Comfort for both the mother and the infant should be the first priority. If the baby’s mouth is not level with nipple then a small pillow is needed. If you feed the baby with the right breast, you should use the left hand to massage the right breast gently to stimulate the flow of the milk. Place the thumb above the areola and four or three other fingers underneath the breast. Massage gently to improve the milk secretion. A smooth, continuous flow of milk can keep your baby interested. After a few minutes of breastfeeding, some babies tend to open their mouth wide and move away from the nipple. If this happens, you shouldn’t forcefully reposition your baby, as babies can be put off by sudden movements.

Cross Cradle Hold Position

This is similar to cradle position, but cross cradle hold position is best used for premature or very small babies. For example, if you breastfeed the baby on the right side, use the opposite arm (the left arm) to support your baby. You can use the unused hand to support the baby or massage the breast.

Rugby Position

Your baby may prefer to feed only from one side and if this happens you should use the rugby position which is also called the football position. For example, your baby may prefer to feed only on your right side and rarely feed on the left side. Place a small pillow under your right arm, place your baby comfortably on it, and see whether the mouth is level with the nipple adding more pillows if necessary. The rugby position is quite similar to the cradle hold position; the difference is that the baby is flipped and you use the opposite hand to support your baby’s head and body instead of using it for massaging your breast. Use the unused hand to support your baby’s buttock and legs. With the rugby position, babies will feel that they’re feeding on different breasts.

Lying Down Position

Here is a comfortable breastfeeding position for both the mother and the baby and best used if you want to put your baby to sleep. Lie down on your side and make sure the baby’s mouth is level with the nipple. Use some pillows if necessary and you can also use your arm as support for fine adjustment if the pillows provide inadequate support. You should stay awake during the process and never fall asleep because some cases of SIDS have occurred when the mother was asleep while breastfeeding using the lying down position.

Before you start the breastfeeding session, make sure the nipple is moist and wet to prevent irritation.

Best Breastfeeding Position for Twins

If you have twins, often both of them demand to be nursed at the same time; consequently, you need to use the tandem breastfeeding position. You can choose to use cradle or football position, to comfortably breastfeed both babies simultaneously. It is also possible to combine cradle position for one baby and football position for another. When breastfeeding, you can choose either sitting or semi-reclining position.

Tandem position can also be used for children of different ages, to prevent jealousy between your children. When older children are allowed to breastfeed together with the smaller sibling, they can progressively develop a bond with both the mother and the sibling. Tandem breastfeeding also saves time and gives the mother more time for rest. Because you nurse two babies, you need to have a nutritious diet to allow your children to get enough nutrients and to boost their immune system. Healthy foods for breastfeeding mothers are dairy products, whole grain, lean meats, vegetables and fruits. Make sure you choose foods that contain plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, protein and folic acid. Obviously, you need to stay away from risky foods, alcohol and drugs to avoid giving your children dangerous substances.

Best Breastfeeding Position for Colicky Babies

If you have a colicky baby, finding the best breastfeeding position is important. A comfortable position is essential for mothers because the difficult, long breastfeeding session can cause sore nipples and pain around the neck, back, shoulder, wrist and elbow. Try all the positions mentioned above to find an ergonomically correct breastfeeding position. Unlike normal babies, you shouldn’t put a colicky or reflux baby flat using breastfeeding pillow. This position can make it more difficult for the baby to swallow, thus increasing gas production and causing reflux symptoms.

Colicky babies can be disturbed by frequent handling, as they already have some pain and discomfort. Often, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and nursing colicky babies can make you miserable. Unfortunately you can’t give formula to colicky babies, because it can cause gastrointestinal issues and make the situation get worse. If you fail to get a comfortable position, you may need to use a special tool such as “nursing positioner”. This is a foam pillow that has wedge shape.

Using Breastfeeding Pillows

When looking for a comfortable breastfeeding position often breastfeeding pillows are necessary. It can be a hard work to breastfeed your baby without an adequate support and you should make sure that the baby is comfortable. When used properly, they can help mothers achieve comfort as they nurse their babies. A baby’s position can be adjusted using a latch-on and mothers will be less likely to have sore nipples and discomfort. It takes proper positioning, patience and time to get your baby to latch on properly, but once you get into the habit it will be easy to do.

A breastfeeding pillow may not be appropriate for very small or premature babies. Ask health your care provider or a lactation consultant to help you use the pillow safely and comfortably. Eventually the baby will be big enough and the breastfeeding pillow is unnecessary. When that happens you can use the pillow to prop the baby up for breastfeeding in a sitting position. However, this could cause a suffocation hazard (a likely cause of SIDS), so you shouldn’t fall asleep while doing this.

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