Online Shopping, Gorillas and Pillows: A Guide To Breastfeeding Positions
Breastfeeding positions. Honestly? If your baby is attached to your breast, is getting milk, and you’re not in pain, that’s really all that matters. If for you, that happens to be while you are holding Warrior I position on your yoga mat and embracing your newborn while bathed in the gentle light of the rising sun…well, you go girl! Namaste! For most of us though, it’s kind of confusing.
There are 'proper' positions for breastfeeding that are comfortable and can help combat some common breastfeeding challenges in the early days. First things first, let's get comfortable. Grab your cell phone for brexting (breastfeeding while texting. Oh, you didn’t know that’s a thing? It’s a thing), a glass of water, snack, nursing pillow and your baby.
Ready? Let’s get started.
If you were to mime to someone 'holding a baby' that position with your arms cradled across your chest, is a cross cradle position. It’s awesome because it’s a pretty natural position to hold a newborn. First, put the nursing pillow across your lap, decide which breast you want to feed on first, then lie your baby down across your lap on the pillow. Use the hand that’s on the opposite side as the breast you’re feeding with to support their head and the other to cup your breast. Now, relax, drop your shoulders and bring your baby towards your breast. Once you have a good latch you can relax with one hand free for online shopping and reading articles about which university your 5-day old baby will one day attend. Because, you know, planning ahead is key!
This one didn’t make very much sense to me at first. I haven’t exactly spent a lot of time holding footballs in my life. I’d call it 'carrying a clutch purse' hold, personally. This position is fantastic for a few reasons. First, if you have had a c-section, this position will keep the baby off your incision. Secondly, it allows the baby to have a slightly different latch position from the more common cross cradle. This is key if you are having any nipple pain issues. Sometimes a change in position can help resolve that. This position is also great for twins (but I’ll save that for another post). To get your baby in football hold, first place the nursing pillow across your lap. Then place your newborn under your arm, on the side you want to start feeding on. Their body will be tucked up along your side and their head will be in your lap, right at the breast. Use one hand to cradle their head and bring them toward your breast. Bingo! That’s football hold!
This one is a bit awkward at first, but the benefits are incredible. So, remember the last time you were at the zoo and you saw the gorilla leaning back in the enclosure with her fuzzy little gorilla baby vertical on her chest, latched on? Meanwhile Mom is relaxing with her hands free to groom her baby or plan her escape back to the wild? That’s biological nursing. Okay, now quickly erase that image from your mind because literally the last thing a new mom wants is to be compared to zoo animal. This position is kind of amazing though. It allows the baby total control of the show. They are the one who latches themselves on and pulls off when they are finished. If you have having an issue with overactive letdown or flow, this will help baby manage all that milk spraying at their face. This is truly the way humans were intended to nurse.
Let me just say this: Game Changer. Once you master this position, you’ll be catching up on sleep in no time. For this position, you need to lie down on your side in bed. Lie on the side that you want baby to nurse on first. Now, take some of the 65 pillows still on your bed from the sleepless nights of pregnancy and place them around you to support your back, legs and head. Now bring your baby in beside you. You can roll up a receiving blanket and place it along baby’s back to keep them on their side. It can be a bit tricky at first to latch a tiny newborn onto an enormous breast, but with a little practice, it will be a breeze. Nursing while lying on their side will allow baby to let any excess milk run out of their mouth. Baby can latch on and off as they please. Meanwhile, you can close your eyes and rest. Believe me when I tell you, once you master this position, you will never look back!
There, see? Its not so complicated! When you figure out what works for you, it’s one less thing on the long, long list of things you have to figure out as a new mom. Don’t worry though, you got this! And if you need a little help, our breastfeeding experts will help you get started on the right foot…er, make that breast.
Brittany LeBlanc was born and raised in Calgary. She moved to Medicine Hat in 2008 after finishing university. She has been happily married for 9 years and has two children. Brittany came into postpartum doula work after the birth of her daughter and is a welcomed addition to Elite Doula Group. She is passionate about helping families achieve their goals and make settling in as seamless as possible. Whether it’s the first or fourth baby, she draws from her own experiences and wide knowledge base to support families as they find their way through the ups and downs of welcoming home their new little one.