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Breastfeeding Positions



  • Find a relaxed and comfortable position. Any position that works is OK as long as your baby has both your nipple and much of your areola in his or her mouth and can breathe.
  • It’s important to get your baby to latch on correctly to your breast to avoid getting sore nipples and to help your baby get as much milk as possible.


How should I hold my baby during feedings?

There are several positions you can use when you feed your baby. Any position that works is OK as long as your baby has both your nipple and much of your areola in his or her mouth and can breathe. (The areola is the dark area around your nipple.) Find a relaxed and comfortable position. You might want to change to a different breastfeeding position during a feeding to make sure all your milk ducts are drained of milk. A footstool is also helpful to raise your feet.

  • Cradle hold

    The most common position is the cradle hold. Sit in a chair with your baby in your lap and the baby's head resting in the bend of your elbow on the same side where your baby will breastfeed. Your baby's chest should be against your chest so that your baby doesn't have to turn 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 and arm and your baby's head.

  • Cross-cradle hold

    The cross-cradle hold is like 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 your baby’s upper back is in the palm of your hand. This is a good position when you are first learning to breastfeed because it gives you more control of your baby's head while you are helping your baby latch onto the breast. It also is a good position for small babies and babies having trouble learning to latch on correctly.

  • Clutch hold (football hold)

    Hold your baby like a football along your forearm, with the baby's body on your arm, feet pointing toward your back, and 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 C-section and cannot lay your 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’s also a good position for breastfeeding twins.

  • Lying down

    Breastfeeding when you are lying down is good for night feeding. Lie on your side and place the baby on his or her side facing you, with your baby’s head near your breast and 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 your baby can breathe through the 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 C-section and cannot lay your baby on your stomach.

  • Laid-back breastfeeding

    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 help your baby latch on properly and suck deeply with less effort.

After feeding and burping, return your baby to the crib. Be sure to place your baby on his or her back for sleep. Avoid putting your baby on soft sleep surfaces or near loose bedding. Do not put your baby to sleep in places where your baby can fall or get trapped between a bed and a wall, headboard, or other furniture.

How do I get my baby to latch on to my breast?

In the first few days, place your baby skin to skin on your chest. Your baby moves toward the breast. Once your baby is at the nipple, your baby will latch onto the breast and start breastfeeding. It’s very important to get your baby to latch on correctly to your breast. If your baby is not latched on correctly, you will get sore nipples and your baby won't get as much milk.

To get a good latch:

  1. Put your baby in one of the first 4 positions described above. With your other hand, support your breast with your fingers under your breast and your thumb on top (C-hold), or rotate your hand into a U-hold with your fingers and thumb on either side of the breast. Flatten your breast between your thumb and fingers (like holding a sandwich) to make it easier for your baby to take your nipple and areola into his or her mouth.
  2. Turn your baby's body so your baby is facing your breast. Lightly touch your baby's upper lip with your nipple. The natural "rooting reflex" will make your baby open his or her mouth. You may need to touch your baby’s lip several times until he or she opens wide like a yawn.
  3. When your baby opens his or her mouth wide, move your baby’s body and head together to bring your baby onto your breast. Bring your baby's chin and lower jaw to the breast first, with more areola showing at the top than at the bottom. Make sure your baby has a good hold on your nipple as well as the underside of your areola. You want your baby's tongue to draw in as much breast as possible. Never let your baby suck just your nipple. This will feel uncomfortable for you, and your baby will not get as much milk. Keep supporting your breast while your baby feeds, so that your nipple and areola don't get pulled out of your baby's mouth.
  4. Make sure your baby's nose is not pressed into your breast. If your breast is blocking the baby's nose, pull your baby's lower body closer to you. This should move your baby’s nose away while keeping his or her chin pressed against your breast.
  5. If your baby does not latch on well, remove your baby from your breast by sliding your finger into your baby's mouth and pressing down on your breast. This will break the suction. Then try again.

Special Situations

Breastfeeding after a C-Section

  • The lying-down position may be more comfortable for breastfeeding after you have had a C-section. The hospital nurses will help you change from side to side.
  • You can also use the football hold, since it keeps the baby from pressing on your belly.
  • If you breastfeed using the cradle or cross-cradle positions, put a pillow on your lap to protect your belly.

Breastfeeding premature infants

  • The football and cross-cradle holds work best for premature babies.
  • If your baby's breastfeeding reflex is weak, you can increase milk flow by briefly squeezing your breast between your thumb and fingers. You don’t need to squeeze constantly. Just squeeze and release, and then squeeze and release again. Your baby may start sucking again when the squeezing gives extra milk.

Breastfeeding twins

  • Use the football hold with pillows under each arm to support the babies. Using pillows helps free up your hands.
  • You can use the cradle or cross-cradle hold and have the baby’s legs overlap.
  • You can combine holds. For example, use the cradle hold for one baby and the football hold for the other.
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-12-23
Last reviewed: 2019-11-19
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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