Midwifery 101: Positioning for successful breastfeeding
To begin with, the mother should find a comfortable position that will support her back and arms, for example, sat with pillows or lying on her side. Her breast should be made free of clothing that can disrupt a feed, and she should have a drink close to hand in the event of a long feed leaving her thirsty. The baby should be calm and relaxed to help initiate the feed
There are several positions the mother can try to initiate a successful feed.
The cradle hold is a sitting position traditionally used for breastfeeding. For feeding from the right breast, the mother sits with her baby across her abdomen, with his head resting on her right forearm and his body supported by her right hand. Often called the ‘instinctual hold’, it is the hold most women are aware of. Its main downfall is that the mother has limited control over the baby’s head, which can hinder attachment.
Similar to the cradle position, the cross cradle is also popular. For feeding from the right breast, the mother sits with the baby again across her abdomen. Her left forearm supports the baby’s body, and her left hand supports the neck. She uses her right hand to support and angle the breast towards the baby. This position may require the use of extra pillows to support the woman’s elbows.
Here, the mother holds the baby’s body under the arm, similar to the way a rugby/American football player would cradle the ball. The hand supports the baby’s head, whilst a pillow positioned at the mother’s side can support the baby’s body. This leaves her opposite arm free to either support the breast, or leaves it free for another use.
To use this position, the mother lies on her side with her knees slightly bent. The baby lies beside her, lined up with her nipple. She can use her top arm to support the baby and prevent him from rolling onto his front or back. This method is useful if the mother tires easily from extensive feeding, or is recovering from a caesarean section.
Essentially, any position that is comfortable for both the woman and her baby is beneficial. These are just some recommended positions that women often find useful.