Guide to breastfeeding positions

Breastfeeding takes practice. It takes time to work out which feeding position feels best for you and your baby. There isn’t one ‘correct' position - it's all about what feels most comfortable for you both, so it's worth trying them out.

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Before you breastfeed your baby, make sure you have a drink beside you (something thirst quenching like a big glass of water).

There are a few different breastfeeding positions you can try, these are three of the most popular ones:

Cradle hold

This is the probably the most popular breastfeeding position. However, if you've had a caesarean, this may be uncomfortable as your baby lies across your tummy near the scar (try the rugby hold instead). For the cradle hold, sit in a comfy chair with arm rests, or a bed with cushions or pillows around you.

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Positioning:

Tip: If you're sitting in a chair, rest your feet on a stool or small table – this will stop you from leaning forward which can make your back ache.

  1. Lie your baby horizontally across your lap, facing you.

  2. Place your baby's head on your forearm – nose towards your nipple. And your hand should support the length of their body.

  3. Place your baby's lower arm under yours.

  4. Check to make sure your baby's ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line.

Lying on your side

This is a good position if you've had a caesarean or difficult delivery, or if you're breastfeeding in the middle of the night.

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Positioning:

  1. Start by getting comfy lying on your side. Your baby lies facing you, so you are tummy to tummy. Check to make sure your baby's ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line – not twisted.

  2. Put some cushions or pillows behind you for support. A rolled up baby blanket placed behind your baby will help support them. If you've got a pillow under your head, make sure it's not too close to your baby's head or face.

  3. Tuck the arm you're lying on under your head or pillow (ensuring your baby’s position isn’t altered by the pillow) and use your free arm to support and guide your baby's head to your breast.

Rugby hold (or the ‘clutch’)

The rugby hold is a good position for twins as you can feed them at the same time, as well as caesarean babies as there's no pressure on the tummy and scar area.

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Positioning

  1. Sit in a chair with a cushion or pillow along your side.

  2. Position your baby at your side (the side you want to feed from), under your arm, with their hips close to your hips.

  3. Your baby's nose should be level with your nipple.

  4. Support your baby's neck with the palm of your hand.

  5. Gently guide them to your nipple.

Further help

For help with latching on (positioning your baby on your breast), watch our breastfeeding animation video:

Tip: If your baby finds latching on tricky, this position is good as you can guide your baby's head towards your nipple – and it's easier to see what's going on.