Breastfeeding Positions

Breastfeeding positions

Alternate Arm Cradle Hold

Conventional Cradle Hold

Football Hold

Lying Down

Positions for multiples

There are a number of positions you can use to breastfeed your baby. Try getting comfortable with different positions and rotate between them. 

Alternate Arm Cradle Hold

Alternate arm cradle hold for breastfeeding

This position may work well if:

  • You are learning to breastfeed.
  • Your baby is premature or small.

Position before the feeding starts:

  • Hold your baby with the arm on the opposite side to the breast you will be using to feed. Your baby's body and legs are wrapped around you.
  • Wrap your baby's lower arm around your breast before starting to feed. Then bring her closer to the breast. 
  • Hold your baby so that her nostrils (rather than mouth) are in line with the nipple before the feeding starts. Support your baby's back with your arm tucked around her. 
  • The heel of your hand supports her neck and shoulders. 
  • Keep your thumb behind her ear and let your fingers support her jaw bone.

Conventional Cradle Hold

Conventional cradle hold for breastfeeding

This position may work well:

  • Once you and your baby are comfortable with breastfeeding.

Position before the feeding starts

  • Support your breast using the hand on the opposite side to the breast your baby is using to feed. For example if your baby is feeding at the right breast, use your left hand. Keep your thumb and fingers well back from the areola. 
  • Use the arm that is on the same side your baby is feeding on to support your baby's head and body. It will also help to keep your baby close to you.

Football Hold

football hold for breastfeeding

This position may work well if:

  • You are learning to breastfeed.
  • You have a small baby.
  • You have large breasts.
  • You had a Caesarean birth.
  • You are breastfeeding both twins at the same time.

Position before the feeding starts:

  • Lay your baby at your side. You can use a pillow to raise your baby to breast level. Place your baby's bottom against the back of the chair. 
  • Bend your baby's legs up behind your arm so that her feet don't push. Place your nipple on the bridge of your baby's nose. This will help to make sure your baby's mouth is well under your breast before you start. 
  • Support her back with your arm. 
  • Your hand supports her neck and shoulders. 
  • Keep your thumb behind her ear and let your fingers support her jaw bone. 

Helpful Hints 

If it's easier holding your baby with your right arm than your left, use your right arm to hold your baby at both breasts:

  • When your baby is at your left breast, use the alternate arm cradle hold. 
  • When your baby is at your right breast use the football hold. 

If you prefer your left arm, use your left arm to hold baby at both breasts: 

  • When your baby is at your right breast, use the alternate arm cradle hold. 
  • When your baby is at your left breast, use the football hold. 

Lying Down

lying down position for breastfeeding

This position may work well if:

  • You find it too painful to sit.
  • You want to rest when you breastfeed.
  • You had a Caesarean birth

Position before the feeding starts:

  • Lie on your side with pillows to support your head and your back.
  • Place your baby completely on their side with their mouth at the level of your nipple. Their nose, chin, tummy and knees touching you.
  • Use your upper hand to support your breast.
  • Your can tuck your lower arm under your head, or curl it around your baby's back.
  • A small rolled towel or blanket placed behind your baby's back will keep them on their side.

Positions for multiples

  • It may not be necessary to feed your babies at both breasts during a feed. You may want to switch the breast each baby feeds from at every feed. This depends on the strength of each baby's suck.
  • It is easier to feed two babies together when they are young and feeding frequently.
Breastfeeding positions for mothers of multiples

Alternate Arm Cradle Hold

Cross Cradle Hold

Clutch Hold

Breastfeeding in Bed

 Alternate arm cradle hold for mothers of multiple children

 Cross-cradle hold for mothers of multiple children

Clutch hold for mothers of multiple children

Breastfeeding in bed for mothers of multiple children

Credit: Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins & More, by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, La Leche League International, 1999

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