Getting breastfeeding off to the best start involves finding the perfect position for both mum and baby. MAM Expert Midwife and Health Visitor Katie Hilton is on hand to provide tips on the best breastfeeding positions, including lying down, side lying or simply sitting in a chair.
The way you hold your baby when feeding will make it more or less easy for your baby to feed effectively. There are lots of different positions to breastfeed, so try all positions and see what feels most comfortable for you and allows your baby to get in just the right position to get a good mouthful of breast to feed effectively and easily. If you are having problems breastfeeding, with latching or attachment at the breast, your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding advisor can help you get comfortable in one or more of the breastfeeding positions below.
It helps to hold your baby really close with their whole body turned in towards you and their back and head should be in a straight line. If you line up your baby’s nose so that it’s level with your nipple, your baby will have to tilt their head back slightly when they latch at the breast in order to get a good mouthful. Your baby will prefer to be able to move their head freely when they are feeding.
Before you start positioning your baby for breastfeeding, it may also be helpful to gather some useful items together as you may be feeding for some time. This includes a drink, snack, tissues or muslins, TV remote or phone.
Choose a comfortable position for yourself, such as lying back (reclining), cuddling and holding your baby whichever way feels comfortable to you, for as long as you wish. Your baby’s body is completely supported by your body, facing and closely touching you. New research suggests that this encourages your baby’s natural feeding instincts, such as rooting, and is often more comfortable, thereby helping breastfeeding.
Let your baby lay across your lap, with their head supported on your forearm and nose towards your nipple. Make sure their ear; shoulder and hip are in a line, not twisted round. Alternatively, you could lay your baby across your lap, with your opposite hand and wrist supporting their upper back and neck. These are the positions that you see most women using when they are out and about with their baby. It’s worth getting comfortable yourself, so that you don’t have to support your baby’s weight. They may seem small, but you need to be able to relax as well.
By placing cushions at your side, your baby can rest on them with their legs pointing behind you. You will probably need cushions behind you to leave enough room for your baby’s legs to go past your back. Your baby will be tucked under your arm for support. You can then support them behind their shoulders and neck with your right hand when your baby is at your right breast; and vice versa, or support them with pillows. Starting nose to nipple generally helps baby attach well.
If you lie on your side and rest your head on a pillow, your baby can tuck in close to your body. You can guide them to your breast and support them with your free hand. A pillow behind you will support your back. A thin pillow or folded towel under your rib cage will lift your body slightly and this is helpful if you have large breasts. If you have had a caesarean or need to stay in bed, breastfeeding lying down can be very relaxing and help you get more rest.
Whatever position you choose, remember to bring your baby to your breast or let them attach themselves rather than leaning towards them. Tuck your baby in closely to you, check that their ear, shoulder and hip are all in line and not twisted, make sure that they’re facing your nipple and don’t have to turn their head to feed. Using cushions and special breastfeeding pillows might help in the early days, but you might be comfortable without them too.
Posted in: Breastfeeding