We understand that breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, one solution might be to try a different breastfeeding position.
The cradle hold is the most common breastfeeding position and is particularly effective for use with older babies. See below for a step by step guide on how to breastfeed babies using the cradle hold position.
- Put baby’s head in the crook of your arm, taking care to tuck his lower arm under his body.
- With baby facing you, tummy to tummy, support your breast with either a C hold or U hold (depending on which one you find more comfortable) - right breast in left hand or left breast in right hand.
- Take care to ensure you are not touching your areola as this may effect baby latching on.
- Bring baby to breast, not breast to baby to ensure your comfort. Baby should take your whole nipple and a large part of your areola in his / her mouth.
- If done correctly, baby’s ear, shoulder and hips should be in a straight line.
The Cross Cradle
The cross cradle breastfeeding position is a close alternative to the cradle hold. Many mothers find this variation more comfortable. It is especially useful for newborn babies who have not yet learned to latch on. See below for a step by step guide on how to breastfeed babies using the cross cradle position.
- For this position, you will need a breastfeeding pillow to place on your lap and bring baby up to nipple level. Pillows should also support both your elbows.
- Cup your breast in a U hold.
- With your other hand - right hand if feeding with left breast, left hand if feeding with right breast - support your baby’s head using your thumb and index finger behind baby’s ears. Baby’s neck rests in the web between thumb, index finger and the palm of your hand.
- Bring baby to breast and encourage him / her to take your whole nipple and a large part of your areola in his / her mouth.
- If your baby is drinking well and your arm becomes tired, try to transition in to the standard cradle hold.
Lying Position / Side Lying Hold
Many mums find the side lying position the easiest of all the breastfeeding positions, especially if feeding at night or first thing in the morning. This position is also good for mums who have had a caesarean section delivery. See below for a step by step guide on how to breastfeed babies using the cross cradle position.
- Lie on your side, legs bent up at a right angle to the body, head and back supported with pillows and arm stretched out in front of you, bent at the elbow to support baby’s back.
- Lie baby next to you so he / she is facing you (tummy to mummy, nose to nipple) and encourage him / her to latch on using your free arm. Baby will drink from the breast next to the mattress.
- Baby should take your whole nipple and a large part of your areola in his / her mouth.
- If you wish to switch breasts, simply cuddle baby to your chest and roll yourselves over.
- This position is very safe if done properly. Mum and baby should ALWAYS be on top of the duvet, possibly with a blanket over them so if they fall asleep, there is no danger of suffocation. This position should NEVER be done on a sofa. Babies can easily roll between cushions, which are a suffocation risk.
Rugby Ball Position / Clutch Hold
The rugby ball position is good for a mum who has had a caesarean birth as it keeps baby away from the incision. It is also good for mums with large breasts and mums with a premature baby. Newborns like this position and it is generally only used until baby is used to breastfeeding and latching on well. See below for a step by step guide on how to breastfeed babies using the rugby ball position.
- Tuck baby in under the same arm as the breast being used to feed him / her - right arm for right breast, left arm for left breast. A pillow will help to support baby and bring him / her to breast level.
- Position your forearm up the length of baby’s back and support their head using thumb and index finger – similar to the cross cradle hold.
- Hold your breast with the other hand using the C hold and bring baby to breast.
- Bring baby to breast to encourage them to feed. Baby should take your whole nipple and a large part of your areola in his / her mouth.
For more information about breastfeeding positions, visit the La Leche League Breastfeeding Positions page. You may also be interested in other articles in our breastfeeding advice section, including how dads can help with breastfeeding.