There are 4 main breast-feeding positions: the cradle hold, the cross-cradle hold, the football hold, and lying down.
The most common position is the cradle hold. This is when you are sitting with your baby in your lap and the baby's head is resting in the bend of your elbow on the same side where you will breast-feed. The baby's chest should be against your chest so that he doesn't have to turn his head to reach your nipple. Be sure the arm of the chair is at the right height to support your arm. Use pillows to support your back, your arm, and the baby's head. A footstool is also very helpful to raise your feet.
The cross-cradle hold is similar to the cradle hold except your baby is supported on the arm and hand opposite the breast you are using. The baby's head rests between your thumb and fingers and his upper back is in the palm of your hand. This is a good position when first learning to breast-feed because it gives you more control of the baby's head while you are helping your baby take the breast in his mouth. It also is a good position for small babies and babies having trouble learning to latch correctly.
Hold your baby like a football along your forearm, with the baby's body on your arm, his feet pointing toward your back, and his face toward your breast. Use your other hand to support your breast. The football hold helps if you have engorged breasts or sore nipples. It is also a good position if you have had a cesarean section and cannot lay the baby on your stomach. If you often have plugged milk ducts, the football hold can help your baby drain the ducts at the bottom of the breast. It is also a good position for nursing twins!
Breast-feeding when you are lying down is good for night feeding. Lie on your side and place the baby on his side facing you, with his head near your breast and his mouth lined up with your nipple. You may want to place a couple of pillows at your back for some extra support. Be sure that the baby can breathe through his nose.
This position is restful for you. By changing your position slightly you can feed the baby from both breasts while lying on one side. It is also a good position if you have had a cesarean section and cannot lay the baby on your stomach.
For this position, lie back and place your baby’s tummy on your tummy. Gravity keeps your baby’s body securely against yours. This position may also help your baby to latch on properly and suck deeply with less effort.
After feeding, return the baby to his or her crib. Be sure to place your baby on his back for sleep. Avoid soft sleep surfaces, loose bedding, and situations in which your baby can fall, get too close to a heating appliance, or get trapped between your bed and a wall, headboard, or other furniture.
In the first few days, place your baby skin-to-skin on your chest. The baby will bounce his head and step with his legs to move himself toward the breast. Once he is at the nipple, he will latch onto the breast and start nursing. Babies will often nurse 10 to 12 times in 24 hours when they are allowed to self-latch.
It is very important to get your baby to latch on correctly to your breast. If the baby is not latched on correctly, you will get sore nipples and the baby won't get as much milk.
To get a good latch:
Tips on Breast-feeding Positions
Nursing After Having a Cesarean Section
Nursing Premature Infants