For many mums, breastfeeding can initially be quite difficult to master, so it’s important to try out different breastfeeding positions to see which is most comfortable for you and your baby.
A large part of breastfeeding successfully rests on the position that you hold your baby, how well he is latched on and how comfortable you both are. When latched on correctly, your baby will be able to feed more quickly and easily and it should be pain-free, right from the outset.
There are several different ways to hold your baby when breastfeeding, so experiment to see what works best for you. Don’t be discouraged if it feels difficult to start off with. It will get easier with practice and you should get to a point where you can confidently, easily and discreetly breastfeed in public.
If you’re struggling to get your baby to latch on properly, don’t be afraid to ask a health professional for help. Remember, you are the novice and they are the expert!
Whatever breastfeeding position you try, there are certain golden rules that you need to remember to ensure that your baby is safe and comfortable:
- Sit comfortably with your back well supported by cushions or pillows
- Don’t hunch forwards as this will strain your back and neck
- Place your baby on her side with her mouth at the level of your breast and her body fully supported by your arms and/or a pillow
- Bring your baby to your breast rather than pushing your breast towards the baby.
- Once latched, ensure your baby’s body is in a straight line, with his or her head tilted slightly back, rather than bent inwards
- Their mouth should be wide open and lips curled back and you should not feel or see any excessive pulling on the breast as she sucks
- Keep water and some snacks near you. Being hydrated helps you produce milk and once you’re comfortable with your baby it will be difficult to move if you get thirsty!
- Some mums find that varying feeding positions is helpful if one breast is becoming sore and/or some milk ducts are becoming lumpy or blocked
Sitting in a chair
This is the most common position for mothers when breastfeeding and the easiest way to feed when out and about. Sit comfortably, then bring your baby to your breast, using your arms and/or a pillow to support his body while he/she feeds – as described above in my breastfeeding tips. Once your baby gets older and bigger, you will be able to sit him/her on your lap rather than holding him/her horizontally across your body.
If you’re feeding in bed or laid back on a reclining chair you can relax and tuck your baby close to your front. With your body leant backwards, place your baby across your front, ensuring his ear, shoulder and hips are in a straight line with his/her mouth facing your nipple. Once latched on, his/her body will be snuggled onto your body and you are unlikely to need any pillows to offer extra support.
Lying on your side
Lie comfortably on your side in bed, using pillows where necessary to support your head, neck and shoulders. You could also put some behind your back and in-between your bent knees. Lay your baby on the bed facing towards you, then bring him/her towards your breast until he is able to latch on comfortably. Your baby shouldn’t have to strain to reach your nipple, so you may need to place a small pillow beneath him to raise him/her to the level of your breast.
The ‘football hold’
Place a pillow or some cushions at your side so that your baby can lie on them, with her/his head level with your breast and her/his feet pointing behind you. You should support her/his back and head with your right arm if she/he is feeding on your right breast and vice versa. As with all feeding positions, ensure that her/his body is in a straight line and that she/he isn’t having to strain to reach your nipple.
Note: I am not a great fan of this method as it is usually harder to manage, especially when out in public. It is however, a good way to feed twins as you can have a baby on each breast.