5 Ideal Positions For Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding week

Every year the first week of August is viewed as World Breastfeeding Week, dedicated to nurturing the purest bonds between a mother and her newborn. In this week-long journey, a spotlight is cast upon a tireless mission of understanding the paramount significance of breastfeeding.

This year WHO’s theme, “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work!” is a rallying call that echoes across the globe, advocating for a harmonious union between the demands of work and the sanctity of nurturing for a working mother. Through education and empowerment, it is set to redefine the narrative, ensuring every working woman can navigate through motherhood and career.

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Role of Breastfeeding
Breastmilk is like a divine elixir of life for infants that shields them against any infection. It comprises energy and essential nutrients necessary for an infant’s initial months. Moreover, it remains a vital source, contributing to half or more of a child’s nutritional requirements in the latter half of their first year and up to one-third during the second year of life.

Breastfed children exhibit enhanced performance on intelligence assessments, a decreased likelihood of being overweight or obese, and reduced susceptibility to diabetes in their later years. Furthermore, breastfeeding confers a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers for women who engage in it[1].

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Ideal Positions for Breastfeeding
While breastfeeding offers inherent advantages, the positioning of both mother and infant during this process is equally significant. Optimal nursing positioning ensures comfort for both, eliminating any potential discomfort[2].

Discover a range of positions many moms find useful for nurturing comfort and cradling their infants during breastfeeding.

A. Cradle Hold: This is the easiest and most common comfortable position for mothers to hold their children while breastfeeding.

Steps to Cradle Hold
1.Sit upright, preferably with arm support.
2. Give the baby support using the arm corresponding to the nursing breast’s side.
3. Ensure the baby’s head rests comfortably in the bend of your elbow while they face your breast.
For added support, consider placing a breastfeeding pillow on your lap. Be mindful not to elevate the baby excessively; the breasts should stay at their natural resting height to prevent sore nipples and maintain a comfortable latch.

B. Cross-Cradle Hold: This hold resembles the cradle position, but the mother supports the baby with the arm opposite the breast the baby is nursing from.

Steps to Cross-cradle hold:
1. Place the baby against your abdomen, ensuring its back and neck are aligned.
2. Extend your hand across the baby’s back to support their head while their lower body rests comfortably in the bend of your arm.
This position can particularly benefit infants with difficulty achieving a deep latch.

C. Side-lying Hold: This stance offers excellent comfort if lying down is your preferred choice for you and your baby. It is ideal for mothers in post-surgery recovery after a C-section or those nursing during nighttime[3]. Co-sleeping women also favor this position.

Steps to hold this position:
1. Begin by finding a comfortable position while lying on your side. Your baby should face you with its lips near your nipple, allowing for a tummy-to-tummy connection.
2. Ensure your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip are aligned straight, avoiding twisting.

D. Rugby or Football Hold: The clutch hold, also called the football hold, is particularly advantageous for nursing two infants concurrently. It proves highly suitable for women in C-section recovery or facing postpartum discomfort, especially those with larger breasts, flat or inverted nipples, or a strong let-down reflex. In this position, the mother cradles the baby/babies like holding a football, thus the name. Also, this technique suits infants more prone to an upright feeding posture[3].

Steps to Football hold:
1. Position a pillow on either side of your body when breastfeeding twins for support.
2. Gently hold the baby facing upwards in your arm, ensuring their head is close to your breast.
3. Ensure proper alignment of the baby’s head, neck, and back, offering support with your arm and hand.
4. Hold the baby cradled near your side, ensuring their legs and feet are tucked under your arm.

E. Laid-back Breastfeeding: Also known as biological nursing or reclining position, this breastfeeding posture requires reclining comfortably in a semi-reclined position on a cozy bed or sofa. If you’ve had a c-section, your baby can be positioned across you, away from the incision area.

Steps to hold this position:
1. Lean back, finding a gentle incline on the sofa or bed.
2. Support your back, shoulders, and neck using cushions or pillows.
3. Once you’re at ease, place your baby on your chest, allowing their tummy to rest against yours.
4. Maintain enough upright posture to make eye contact with your baby.
5. While ensuring your baby’s support, gently guide them to your nipple.

Feeding and holding your baby is a personal journey with no definitive right or wrong position. Each mother and baby will naturally discover their preferred feeding position. The key is ensuring both of you are at ease and content. Choose from various breastfeeding positions, and decide what suits you and your baby best. Some women face challenges during breastfeeding. With early assistance, it is possible to resolve most breastfeeding problems.

(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. WHO. Breastfeeding. Available online from:
2. UNICEF. Available from:
3. Office on Women’s Health. Available online from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/learning-breastfeed/getting-good-latch#4


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