Are you wondering how to hold your baby while breastfeeding? Breastfeeding positions and correct latching are essential in ensuring your baby transfers the milk from your breast effectively. Also, incorrect latching leads to cracked, bleeding nipples, so avoid it at all costs. How do you get feeding positions and latching right? Practice, practice, practice! Your nipples may go through an initial adjustment period of 1-2 weeks but should never crack.

How to hold your baby while breastfeeding: best feeding positions

The cross-cradle breastfeeding position

Position your baby so his head rests in the bend of your elbow of the arm on the side you’ll be feeding, with the hand on that side supporting their body. This is an ideal position for breastfeeding your newborn. If feeding from the right breast, ‘U’ hold the breast using your right hand. Using the left hand, support Baby’s back and neck. Turn Baby’s whole body toward you (so that tummy is against mummy). Wait for Baby to open wide before latching to the breast.

mom demonstrating the cross cradble breastfeeding position

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Football or clutch breastfeeding position

This position is great after a c-section as it takes pressure off the abdomen. If feeding from the right breast, ‘C’ hold the breast with the left hand. Support baby’s back and neck with the right hand. Place Baby’s legs behind you. Again, wait for Baby to open wide before latching on.

mom demonstrating football or clutch breastfeeding position

The cradle breastfeeding position

A more advanced position once Baby is a little bit older and is able to maintain a good latch on. If feeding from the right breast, use the right arm to cradle and support neck. Use the left hand to help Baby to latch.

mom demonstrating cradle breastfeeding position

How do you know if your breastfeeding position is correct?

• Baby is supported on pillows with the head at breast height
• Roll the Baby toward you “tummy to mummy” (Cross-Cradle Position)
• Line the Baby up “nose to nipple” (sniff position)

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Are you offering your baby the breast correctly?

• Sandwich hold (with your hand in the ‘U’/’C’ position).
• Wait for Baby to give you a wide-open mouth.
• Bring Baby to breast, not breast to Baby.

Is your breastfeeding latch-on correct?

• The angle of the lips is greater than 140°.
• Lips flanged (top and bottom, rolled out).
• Chin touching breast, nose free to breathe.

What to do if your baby refuses the breast

Frequent bottle use (more than twice in 24 hrs) can cause bottle preference (also called bottle or nipple confusion) in babies. Some babies learn to prefer the faster flow from a bottle nipple and become frustrated at the relatively slow flow from the breast, making it more likely that they’ll refuse the breast. This is what you can do if your baby refuses the breast and you still want to breastfeed:

  • Place baby skin-to-skin and allow them to take the lead by trying to latch on themselves. Try this a few times throughout the day.
  • Keep breastfeeding, especially while you are building up and establishing a milk supply in the early weeks.
  • Try lying back if Baby needs more assistance with getting to the breast.

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  • Ensure you’re positioning the baby correctly and have a good latch.
  • Express drops of milk onto the nipple before offering the breast.
  • Persist gently for 10 minutes. If Baby resists, try again at the next feed. You don’t want Baby to associate breastfeeding as a battleground.
  • Protect and maintain your milk supply if Baby doesn’t latch on properly. Do this with the help of an electric breast pump or breast massage.
  • Have patience and don’t give up!

Information courtesy of Belly Babies. You can visit their site by clicking here.