How to breastfeed

baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding takes practice. It takes time to work out which positions feel best – try them all out to see which feels best.

Breastfeeding positions

Before you breastfeed your baby, 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 3 of the most popular:

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 lying on your side or 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.

mother breastfeeding her baby

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

  2. Place your baby's head on your forearm – nose towards your nipple. 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.

Here is a top tip…

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

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. mother breastfeeding her baby lying on side

  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 - remember to remove it after you have finished feeding. 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.

Laid-back nursing

Laid-back breastfeeding, also known as "biological nursing", is when you lie back in a comfortable semi-reclined position on a comfy sofa or bed. If you have had a caesarean section (c-section), your baby can lie across you and away from your incision. Mum breastfeeding in a laid back position

  1. Lean back (but not flat) on a sofa or bed.

  2. Prop yourself up with cushions or pillows so your back, shoulders and neck feel supported.

  3. When you are comfortable, place your baby on your front. Their tummy should be resting on your tummy – but if this is uncomfortable, lie them to one side.

  4. Make sure you are upright enough to look into your baby's eyes

  5. While supporting your baby, gently guide your baby to your nipple. For more information, have a look at this video on laid back nursing..

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. baby breastfeeding in the rugby hold position

  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

Have a look at this video on breastfeeding positions for more help and guidance.

Breastfeeding Friend from Start4life

The Breastfeeding Friend, a digital tool from Start4Life, has lots of useful information and expert advice to share with you – and because it's a digital tool, you can access it 24 / 7.

For confidential breastfeeding information and support, call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212. Lines are open 9:30am to 9:30pm every day.

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