Some suggestions before you choose the best feeding position for you and your newborn:
- Mother has to be comfortable and relaxed while breastfeeding;
- She needs to give enough support to her baby;
- Some positions can be better than others depending on the mother’s breast shape and size. Sometimes one position can work for the right breast and another is needed for the left one;
- The baby’s age, size, maturity, and any health conditions can all matter too.
Basics of Latching
Before latching, bringing your baby to the nipple with his head slightly tilted back will cause the mouth to open wide; the tongue will stay over the lower lip, with the lip touching the breast, and the nose staying out of contact with the breast. This type of latch allows the nipple to expand into the space between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. The baby will suckle more on the lower part of the areola.
Best Breastfeeding Positions for Newborns.
1. Cradle or Madonna position.
A very popular and well-known hold. When Mom sits upright on the chair or sofa with her back supported by a pillow and holding her Baby with her arm: right arm to the right breast, left arm to the left breast). Baby is on his/her side, facing Mom. Mom can use a breastfeeding pillow if your breast size is not very big. Women with D cup or larger likely do not need the pillow. Mom’s other arm can shape the nipple before latching or add compressions during the feeding.
This position is done seated, so it would not be recommended for women after Cesarean Section or with recent stitches/sutures. Note, that Mom does not have much control over the Baby’s head in this position.
2. Cross- cradle hold.
This position is recommended for Mom and her newborn Baby, especially if preterm. Mom holds her Baby with her forearm, with the hand supporting Baby’s shoulders and head, while bringing Baby to the opposite breast (left arm to right breast and vice versa). Baby’s eyes and face are turned to Mom. Mom has lot of control over Baby’s head with this positioning. An experienced Mom can hold her Baby with one hand and use the other hand to shape her nipple before latching and add compressions during the feeding.
Challenges with this hold: it is easy to push Baby’s head toward the breast and make the latch shallow, if applying more pressure on the head. But supporting the shoulders keeps the nose away from the breast and makes the latch deep. Women after Cesarean Section would not be comfortable with this position.
3. Football, Clutch or Rugby Ball Hold.
This is another seated position, and most of the time requires a breastfeeding pillow. Mom sits on the chair or sofa with pillows behind her back. Baby is on his side with hips flexed or semi flared toward to the back of the chair. Mom holds Baby’s head, neck and shoulder with her hand and supports the body with her forearm. She brings Baby with her left hand to her left breast. Mom has good control over Baby’s head, can see Baby’s face and observe the breath-suck-swallow process.
This position is very good for newborns and women with small size cone-shaped breasts.
It is not recommended for Mom after Cesarean Section.
4. Side-lying position.
This positioning is good for Mom after Cesarean Section or stitches/sutures.
Mom lies down on her right side with legs straight and with the shoulder supported by pillows and Baby is on his left side along her body. She can hold his back with her arm or support it with a rolled towel. Baby’s head is slightly tilted back, mouth wide open, and eyes looking to Mom. There are two variants for this position: Mother can offer the same side breast or the opposite side breast.
Mom can enjoy this type of breastfeeding during the night. This positioning minimizes fatigue for Mom and gives more rest.
5. Biological Nurturing – Semi-reclining Position.
This is the first position Mom likely might try right after giving birth. When Baby is placed on her chest, Mom will be amazed by Baby’s ability to crawl toward her breast and latch on. What a miracle indeed! Baby’s instinct and reflexes help him to move forward to the nipple, which smells like amniotic fluid, reminding Baby of in utero.
Mom can use this position after vaginal and Caesarian birth as well. It works for newborns and for older babies too. It suits the combination of a smaller sized infant and Mom with bigger breasts, and for infants who do not like their head being controlled/maneuvered.
6. Laid-back Position.
Mom is on her back lying flat with Baby latching while being in supine position across Mom’s shoulder.
This pose is very comfortable for Moms after Caesarian section since Baby does not press on her abdomen!
7. Koala/Upright/ Australian hold.
In this position, Mom sits upright and holds Baby who straddles her thigh, facing toward her. Mom’s other thigh supports Baby’s body. Mom supports the head and neck with one arm and make a shape of her nipple with other’s arm.
This position is good for older infants and toddlers, for babies with chronic ear infection, or difficulties with reflux. It can help to control fast milk flow.
8. Dangle Feeding position.
In this position, Baby is on his back and Mom is leaning over him. Very helpful for women with blocked milk ducts. This pose promotes a deeper latch and the gravity helps to dislodge blockages. There is no scientific proof for this, but anecdotally it seems to work!
9. Dancer hand breastfeeding position
A position for babies with special needs: low muscle tone (hypotonia) associated with different health conditions, such as Down Syndrome, prematurity, and others).
First of all, Mom has to have sufficient milk supply by practicing a routine of hand expression, milk pumping, and/or herbal/drug stimulants for milk production. Second, Baby have to be strong enough to latch and transfer the milk.
Mom uses her hand to shape her breast and hold it with the third, fourth and fifth fingers from underneath, while making a U shape with the thumb and index fingers to support Baby’s jaw and chin. Baby is held up with the other hand in upright position by supporting his head, neck and shoulders.
10. Position for twins.
One of the best and the most supportive position for Mom with twins is Double Football or Double Clutch positioning. When Mom sits upright on the sofa with a pillow supporting her back. Make note that she needs a special breastfeeding pillow for twins! Mom then latches both babies in a football-like hold: one to the right breast end the other to the left).
Mom can see both Babies and control their latches.
Mom also can hold one Baby in cradle position (right arm to right breast) and the other Baby in football position (to her left breast).
Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
Before choosing the position Mom has to analyze and decide what works for her better: a sitting or lying down pose. Consider the size and shape of the breasts, the maturity and weight of the Baby. Mom can try different positions. If Mom need help or has questions regarding breastfeeding, please, book an appointment in our clinic.
For Mom breastfeeding is natural but not instinctive. For millennia, the skills and techniques of breastfeeding have been passed from one generation of women to another as a learned, social experience. Sadly, because of several generations of decreased emphasis, breastfeeding knowledge and techniques have become lost, muted, and distorted.
In conclusion, I would like to add some general tips to all new Moms.
To be successful in the breastfeeding journey Mom can choose any or several positions that suit her and Baby. A very important detail to remember is that the success depends on the milk supply and Baby’s ability to latch on and transfer the milk. Ask the Doctor or midwife to latch Baby to your breast RIGHT after the delivery (if possible in your specific circumstance, of course) . This process sends a signal to your brain to switch on milk production.
In order to support lactogenesis after birth it is important to follow the rule: more milk out – more milk in. During the first month feed your infant on demand, but not less than every 2.5-3 hours. If Baby cannot latch use hand expression and pumping with the same schedule. It is necessary to breastfeed or pump during the night time as well to support the prolactin level and milk production.
Consult with your doctor, midwife or lactation practitioner to assess your baby’s latch if you have nipple pain during breastfeeding, if Baby makes a clicking sound during breastfeeding time, or if Mom feels that something is wrong with the breastfeeding process in general. As much as you can, consider not switching to formula exclusively – fight for your chance to give your Baby the best and most nutritious food ever! As they say: Breast is best!
There are some herbal lactagogues (herbs which help to secrete more milk), such as: Gout’s Rew, Blessed Thistle, Moringa, Fenugreek and some Organic combinations (for example, in the MotherLove line). Your doctor or midwife can also prescribe you Domperidone (a medication which can increase Prolactin level). There are lots of ways to support your body through this miraculous process! Connect with a Lactation consultant or La Leche League in your area.
Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP! Hang on to that chance of building a lifelong connection with your baby through breastfeeding!
Good Luck & Good Latch.