Breastfeeding Positions

The most important part of successful breastfeeding is getting the baby to latch on correctly. If the baby latches on poorly, then she will be limited as to how well she will get milk. Further, by latching on poorly, the baby may cause the mother to be in pain. And since the child is not receiving adequate milk supply, she will have to stay on the breast for longer periods of time, further aggravating the pain.

Thus, it is important, in the early weeks, to optimize your baby's position and ensure that she is latched on correctly. Proper positioning will help eliminate many a case of sore nipples. Here are some basic positions to use when breastfeeding your little bundle of joy. Use the ones that you find are most effective and comfortable for you.

The Cradle Position
The cradle position is most commonly used after the first few weeks and gives you the most control of your baby. Your baby should be lying on her side, resting on her shoulder and hip with her mouth level with your nipple. Use pillows to lift your baby and to support your elbows so that you can bring her up to nipple height. This is especially important during the first few weeks.

Support your breast with your hand while your baby's head is on your forearm. Her back will be along your inner arm and palm. When you look down, you should see her side and her mouth should be covering at least a half-inch of areola, the dark area around your nipple. Be sure her ear, shoulder and hips are in a straight line. As a newborn, your baby's head and bottom should be level with each other.

The Cross Cradle Position
This is a variation of the cradle position. It involves your baby being supported on a pillow across your lap to help raise her to your nipple level. Pillows should prop up your elbows so that your arms don't hold the weight of the baby. Otherwise, your arms may tire before the feeding is finished.

If you are preparing to breastfeed on the left breast, your left hand supports that breast and you support your baby with the fingers of your right hand. Do this by gently placing your hand behind your baby's ears and neck with your thumb and index finger behind each ear.

Your baby's neck rests in the web between the thumb, index finger and palm of your hand, thereby forming a "second neck" for your baby. The palm of your hand is placed between his shoulder blades. As you prepare to latch on your baby, be sure his mouth is very close to your nipple from the start. When your baby opens her mouth wide, you push with the palm of your hand from between the shoulder blades. Her mouth will be covering at least a half-inch from the base of your nipple.

Clutch Position
The clutch breastfeeding position is also known as the 'football hold.' The position is perfect for women who have just had a Cesarean birth, since it keeps the child away from your incision. It is also used in situations when the mother has a more forceful milk ejection because it allows the child to handle the increased flow more easily.

For the football position, you should support your baby's head in your hand and his back along your arm beside you. Your child should be facing you, with her mouth at nipple height. Your baby's legs and feet are tucked under your arm with her hips flexed and her legs resting alongside your back so that the soles of her feet are pointed toward the ceiling. This will keep her from being able to push against your chair. Using pillows will help bring the baby to the correct height.

Side Lying Position
The side lying position is very comfortable, especially at night or whenever you're feeling tired. With this position, both mother and baby lie on their sides facing each other. Use pillows behind your back and between or behind your knees to help get comfortable. A pillow or rolled blanket behind the baby's back will keep her from rolling away from you.
Cradle the baby in your arm with her back along your forearm. Having her hips flexed and her ear, shoulder and hip in one line helps your baby get milk more easily. Many mothers find it helpful to practice this position during the daytime.

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