There are several positions you can use when you feed your baby. As a general rule, anything that works is OK as long as your baby has both your nipple and much of your areola in her mouth and she can breathe. (The areola is the dark area around your nipple.) Find a relaxed and comfortable position. You might want to change to a different nursing position sometimes during a feeding to make sure all of your milk ducts are drained of milk. A footstool is also very helpful to raise your feet.
The most common position is the cradle hold. Sit in a chair with your baby in your lap and the baby's head resting in the bend of your elbow on the same side where your baby will breastfeed. The baby's chest should be against your chest so that she doesn't have to turn her head to reach your nipple. Be sure the arm of the chair is at the right height to support your arm. Use pillows to support your back and arm and your baby's head.
The cross-cradle hold is similar to the cradle hold except your baby is supported on the arm and hand opposite the breast you are using. The baby's head rests between your thumb and fingers and her upper back is in the palm of your hand. This is a good position when you are first learning to breastfeed because it gives you more control of your baby's head while you are helping her take the breast in her mouth. It also is a good position for small babies and babies having trouble learning to latch on correctly.
Hold your baby like a football along your forearm, with the baby's body on your arm, her feet pointing toward your back, and her face toward your breast. Use your other hand to support your breast. The football hold helps if you have engorged breasts or sore nipples. It is also a good position if you have had a C-section and cannot lay the baby on your stomach. If you often have plugged milk ducts, the football hold can help your baby drain the ducts at the bottom of the breast. It’s also a good position for nursing twins.
Breast-feeding when you are lying down is good for night feeding. Lie on your side and place the baby on her side facing you, with her head near your breast and her mouth lined up with your nipple. You may want to place a couple of pillows at your back for some extra support. Be sure that your baby can breathe through her nose.
This position is restful for you. By changing your position slightly you can feed the baby from both breasts while lying on one side. It is also a good position if you have had a C-section and cannot lay the baby on your stomach.
For this position, lie back and place your baby’s tummy on your tummy. Gravity keeps your baby’s body securely against yours. This position may help your baby to latch on properly and suck deeply with less effort.
After feeding and burping, return the your baby to her crib. Be sure to place your baby on her back for sleep. Avoid soft sleep surfaces, loose bedding, and places where your baby can fall, get too close to a heating appliance, or get trapped between your bed and a wall, headboard, or other furniture.
In the first few days, place your baby skin to skin on your chest. The baby will bounce her head and step with her legs to move herself toward the breast. Once she is at the nipple, she will latch onto the breast and start nursing. It’s very important to get your baby to latch on correctly to your breast. If your baby is not latched on correctly, you will get sore nipples and your baby won't get as much milk.
To get a good latch:
Nursing after a C-Section
Nursing premature infants