7 Different Breastfeeding Positions For Moms to Try

best breastfeeding positions

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time to celebrate and raise awareness about breastfeeding for mothers who opt to do so. Breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for babies, including essential nutrients, immune system support, and bonding with their mothers. However, finding the best breastfeeding positions can be a challenge for many moms.

Today, we’re discussing different breastfeeding positions for moms to try, including tips for each as well as their potential pros and cons. Read on to learn more and determine which of these different breastfeeding positions may be right for you and your baby.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Choosing whether or not to breastfeed is a personal decision without a right or wrong answer. For those mothers who do choose to breastfeed, however, there are some potential benefits you may experience.

Some of these potential benefits of breastfeeding include:

Baby nutrition: Breast milk is uniquely tailored to meet the nutritional needs of infants. It contains the perfect blend of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals necessary for healthy growth and development. Breast milk also adjusts its composition as the baby grows, providing tailored nutrition at each stage.

Immune system support: Breast milk contains antibodies, immune cells, and other bioactive components that help protect infants against infections, allergies, and illnesses.

Bonding: Breastfeeding fosters a deep emotional connection between mother and baby. The skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, and physical closeness during breastfeeding may help with bonding and secure attachment.

Health benefits for mom: Breastfeeding may also offer several health benefits for mom, as well. It helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size faster, reduces postpartum bleeding, and could lower the risk of certain cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancer.

It is important to note that breastfeeding is a personal choice, and each mother's circumstances and preferences are unique. Some women may face challenges to find successful breastfeeding positions or choose an alternative feeding method, and that is perfectly acceptable. The most important thing is to provide love, care, and nourishment to the baby, ensuring their healthy growth and development.

Best Breastfeeding Positions to Try

Whether you’re a first-time mom or welcoming the newest of several additions to your growing family, you might want to try different breastfeeding positions to determine which works best for you and your baby. The best breastfeeding positions for one mother may differ from another when it comes to successful or easy latching and nursing.

Some common breastfeeding positions mothers try include:

  1. Laid-back breastfeeding or reclined position
  2. Cradle hold
  3. Cross-cradle hold
  4. Side-lying position
  5. Upright breastfeeding or koala hold
  6. Dangle feeding
  7. Nursing in a sling

1. Laid Back Breastfeeding Position or Reclined Position

Pros: Promotes a natural latch, alleviates excess pressure on the back, easy position for a zero gravity nursing chair.

Cons: May require pillows or rolled blankets for support without the proper nursery chair.

The laid back breastfeeding position, also known as the reclined position, is a relaxed and natural approach that mimics the way newborns instinctively latch onto the breast. This position allows gravity to assist your baby in finding the nipple and adjusting its latch.

To try this position more easily, moms can recline in a comfortable nursing chair like a zero gravity chair. Zero gravity chairs provide excellent support and distribute weight evenly, reclining perfectly into the laid back breastfeeding position while simultaneously providing numerous health benefits for mom. They alleviate excess pressure from the lower back, helping you treat new mom back pain and other potential health ailments stemming from less-supported breastfeeding positions. 

This position promotes relaxation, skin-to-skin contact, and helps ensure a deep latch. You may consider experimenting with different degrees of reclining to find the most comfortable angle for both you and your baby.

2. Cradle Hold

Pros: Provides a close and intimate connection between mother and baby, keeps a free hand for additional support or comfort.

Cons: May put a strain on the mother's arm and shoulder.

The cradle hold is one of the most common breastfeeding positions. In this position, the baby lies on their side in the mother's arm, with their head resting on the crook of the elbow. The mother can support the baby's neck and back with her forearm and hand.

This position works well for babies with good head control and may be one of the best breastfeeding positions for mothers who have had a cesarean birth. Use a nursing pillow or a rolled-up blanket to bring the baby's mouth level with the nipple, making latching easier.

3. Cross-Cradle Hold

Pros: Ideal for premature babies or babies with latching difficulties and provides good support.

Cons: May require practice to master the proper hand placement and positioning and can be tiring.

Similar to the cradle hold, the cross-cradle hold involves supporting the baby's head with the opposite hand. For example, if nursing on the right breast, the left hand supports the baby's head. This position provides extra control and support for both the baby and the breast.

Like with the cradle hold position, you may want to use a nursing pillow to alleviate strain on the arm and maintain a comfortable position.

4. Side Lying Breastfeeding Position

Pros: Allows the mother to rest and recover while breastfeeding, good for nighttime feedings.

Cons: May be challenging for babies who struggle with latching.

The side lying breastfeeding position is beneficial for nighttime feedings or when the mother needs to rest. Both the mother and baby lie on their sides facing each other, and the baby can latch onto the breast while the mother supports their head and upper body.

You’ll also find the side lying breastfeeding position is frequently recommended for women who had a c-section. In this breastfeeding position, you may adjust your baby’s latch to more effectively drain different areas of your breast.

5. Upright Breastfeeding or Koala Hold

Pros: Reduces the risk of nipple confusion, as it mimics bottle feeding. 

Cons: Requires careful attention to ensure a proper latch.

The upright breastfeeding position, also known as the koala hold, involves holding the baby in an upright position against the mother's chest, with the baby's legs straddling the mother's waist or supported on a nursing pillow. The baby's head is free to turn and latch onto the breast.

This is one of the best breastfeeding positions for babies with reflux or gastrointestinal issues and provides good neck support. Maintain skin-to-skin contact by using a nursing top or wrap to keep both mother and baby comfortably positioned.

6. Dangle Feeding

Pros: Provides gravity-assisted latch for babies with latching difficulties.

Cons: Requires a supportive chair or cushion for the mother to lean against, may lead to back or shoulder pain.

Next on our list of different breastfeeding positions is dangle feeding, also known as the "laid-back dangle.” This is a position where the mother leans forward, and the baby is positioned beneath the breast.

This position can be helpful for babies who have difficulty latching due to a tongue tie or other latch issues. Be sure to place a towel or cloth beneath the baby's chin to catch any milk that may flow.

7. Nursing in a Sling

Pros: Easier breastfeeding while engaging in other activities.

Cons: Requires practice and familiarity with the sling or carrier.

Last, but not least, on our list of the best breastfeeding positions for moms to try is nursing in a sling. Breastfeeding in a sling or baby carrier allows the mother to nurse discreetly while on the go. Slings can provide a cozy and secure environment for the baby, allowing them to breastfeed comfortably while the mother remains hands-free.

Practice nursing in a sling at home before attempting it in public to ensure you and your baby are comfortable and secure.

Remember, finding the best breastfeeding positions for you and your baby is a personal journey. It may take some trial and error to discover the most comfortable and effective position for you and your baby, so don’t be discouraged if the first one or two you try doesn’t work. You might also seek support from lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, or healthcare professionals who can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs. Celebrate National Breastfeeding Month by embracing the joy and benefits of breastfeeding and finding the best breastfeeding positions that work for you and your baby.

Additional Pregnancy and New Mom Resources

The journey from pregnancy to new motherhood is exciting but can be a little daunting. Check out these pregnancy resources to help you feel your best while taking care of yourself and your baby: