Every mother and baby dyad is different, and it usually doesn’t take long to find the best positions for you and your baby, but when it is all new to you, these are a few of the best positions to try with a tiny baby in those first days.
In all positions make sure you and baby are comfortable and that baby is in a safe environment and can breathe easily without impediment.
Remember, if you and baby are comfortable and baby is feeding well- you’re doing it right, even if it doesn’t look textbook!
The Cradle Hold
This is a great one to start with, especially in the early days and weeks. Position baby on her side, with her mouth level with your nipple, her nose should be free without having to hold the breast tissue away. Her head should rest on your forearm on the same side you are feeding on and your inner arm and hand on that side will be against her back. It can help to use the hand on the non feeding side to support the feeding breast. The hold should be symmetrical with baby’s ear, shoulder and hip in line with each other or for a newborn, keep her head and bottom in line. The front of baby’s chest and tummy touches your body in this hold.
The phrase ‘Tummy to Mummy’ is a helpful reminder when you attempt this hold as it can be instinctive to cradle your baby with her tummy pointing upwards.
You can use a breastfeeding pillow, or any pillow, to bring your baby up to nipple height and take pressure off your arms.
Side- Lying Position
A lot of mothers find this position comfortable in the days soon after delivery. It does not put pressure on a Cesarean section wound and allows you to stretch out, which is well deserved after a long labour. It involves you and baby lying on your sides facing each other. Make yourself as comfortable as possible, some pillows behind your back or between your knees can help to keep you at optimum comfort levels. Keep baby’s ear, shoulder and hip in line to aid milk transfer, and her nose free for breathing. You can use one hand to support the feeding breast and if it is comfortable, use the other arm to cradle the baby with her back against your forearm.
Cross Cradle Hold
This position gives a bit more control than the cradle hold. Use a pillow or breastfeeding pillow to support both arms so they don’t have to take the weight of baby for the feed. Use the hand on the same side as the breast you are feeding from to support that breast. The Burger Hold is useful for this. Use your other hand to support baby’s head.
Gently rest your baby’s neck in the space between your thumb and index finger by positioning your thumb and index finger behind each of your baby’s ears and your palm between her shoulders. The baby in this picture is a doll so the hand is positioned a bit lower to show the shape of the hold more clearly as the doll does not need any head support! The pillow is also omitted to make it easier to see the position.
Make sure baby’s nose is free at all times so she can breathe easily and keep her tummy touching yours.
Laid Back Feeding
This position is all about getting to know your baby and finding out what works best for you both. It works best when you are in skin to skin contact but you and baby can wear whatever you feel comfortable with.
Get yourself set up anywhere you are comfortable, in bed or a recliner or couch can be suitable areas and use pillows to support your head, shoulders, arms and back if you need to. Lean back into a semi reclined position against your pillows and position baby onto your chest. Use your hands to support the feeding breast and your baby’s bottom.Let her feet rest against your body rather than dangling free.
Rest baby’s cheek on your breast and stimulate her lip with your nipple so she will open her mouth wide, then you can bring her close to you and latch her on.
This position is also good for keeping baby clear of a Cesarean scar and for facilitating skin to skin contact which can help to establish your supply.
The Football Hold
This is really good to try after a Cesarean, as it keeps the baby well away from the wound. It is also useful if your let down is very forceful as it helps the baby to tolerate a strong flow.
Hold her head in the hand on the same side you are feeding from, with her back along your arm. Baby should be facing you, with the bonus of being able to comfortably look into her eyes. Use pillows to bring baby up so her mouth is at the same height as your nipple and to take pressure off your arms. Use your other hand to support the feeding breast. Her legs are gently tucked in under your arm.
There are many more feeding positions to try out, or you might invent one of your own!