Breastfeeding positions: 4 best positions for feeding your baby

It's important that you're comfortable while breastfeeding so make sure you find the right position for you!

Breastfeeding positions, and switching them up, could be a factor to help make your experience a little bit easier. 

For something that is supposed to be so natural, breastfeeding can be the hardest thing to master. It’s tough and it can be physically gruelling. In addition new mums can have breastfeeding pain (opens in new tab) and infections such as mastitis (opens in new tab)

Studies (opens in new tab) show that the right positioning for you and your baby can make your breastfeeding experience a joy. And Marley Hall, Midwife, BA RM and DIPHE tells us; “If someone is struggling to get their baby to latch onto the breast in a certain position, sometimes changing positions can prove to be helpful.”

Positioning can play a large part in how well the baby is ‘latched on’ - this means the baby attaches to the breast to breastfeed. When latched on correctly the movements of baby’s jaw and tongue squeezes the milk ducts below the areola to remove the breast milk from your breast and feed.

A comfortable position will help your baby be able to feed more quickly and easily.

Breastfeeding positions

There are four main breastfeeding positions Marley Hall (opens in new tab), Midwife and Author of Midwife Marley’s Guide – Pregnancy, Birth & The Fourth Trimester tells us, but before you try them make sure you're set up. “First, get everything you need before you sit down to feed," she tells us. "I mean remote control, phone, charger, blanket to keep warm, snacks and all the drinks. If you have other children, ensure they are occupied too, an activity/snack box for them may help reduce feelings of jealousy.”

Mum-of-two, Jasmine talks about her breastfeeding experience; "When it came to breastfeeding, I was lucky. My body and my boys just worked together. If it had been difficult I would have stopped. I managed to breastfeed both my sons, and the 'laid back' was my position of choice. ”

She goes on to tell us that Lansinoh cream (opens in new tab) on nipples before and after every feed was such a game changer for her. And to also make sure that you take as much advice as you can get. “Get the midwife and Health Visitor to check every time you feed with them.  I did this to really nail the latch/make sure it was right. Also be prepared for a lot of people to touch your boobs!”

Here are a few positions for you to try if you are experiencing difficulty getting your baby to latch on.

infographic of woman cradling newborn

Credit: Getty/Canva

1. Cross Cradle holdAs breastfeeding positions go, this is an ideal position for early breast-feeding. Hold your baby in the crook of the arm opposite the breast you're feeding from — left arm for right breast, right arm for left. Support the back of the baby's head with your open hand.

Credit: Getty / Canva

Marley tells us; “Many women find this a good one. But, ultimately, every baby is different and some may have a preference over some positions rather than others. It’s a real case of trying a variety of positions to find what works best.”

2. Laid-back nursing When feeding in bed or laid back on a reclining chair you can relax and tuck your baby close to your front. With your body leaning backwards, place your baby across your front,. Ensure that his/her 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 on to your body and you are unlikely to need any pillows to offer extra support.

Credit: Getty / Canva

3. Lying on your side Lie comfortably on your side in bed, using pillows where necessary to support your head, neck and shoulders. You can 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.

Credit: Getty/Canva

4. The football holdPlace a pillow or some cushions at your side so that your baby can lie on them. Ensure that 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. Marley tells us; “Many women who have larger breasts find this hold a little easier than the ‘cross cradle’ hold. 

“This is because they don’t have to stretch their arms so much or feel like the baby’s face is being squashed into the breast. Laying down positions may also be beneficial to those who suffer from back pain or who are recovering from a caesarean."

Breastfeeding a baby with reflux?

Marley also has advice for if you have a baby who is struggling with reflux. “More upright positions like the laid back (where mum is sitting and leaning back), may help when a baby has reflux. Any position where the baby’s upper body is higher than the lower body will be helpful.”

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodTo covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. With his love of choo-choos, Hey Duggee and finger painting he keeps her on her toes.