football hold feeding position
Example of mother using the football hold breastfeeding technique.

Breastfeeding Positions

There are several ways to hold your baby while breastfeeding. Finding the position that is most comfortable for you and your baby is very important. A tense mother means a tense baby! Some mothers find sitting upright in bed or in a comfortable chair to be relaxing, while others prefer reclining about 45 degrees in bed. This is sometimes called “laid-back” or “biological nurturing position.” Remember you may need to support your breast with your free hand during the entire breastfeeding session until your baby has regained its birth weight. The football and cross-cradle holds are recommended for the first two weeks to reduce sore nipples and minimize baby’s weight loss.

Football

  • Sit either straight up in bed or in a comfortable chair with a pillow lengthwise behind your back.
  • Prop pillows beside you to position baby at the level of your breast. If using a nursing pillow, position longer side beside you to help baby stretch out on it.
  • Position your baby’s head with your thumb behind one ear and forefinger behind the other ear, cradling the base of the baby’s head and upper back with your hand. Align the baby’s nose to your nipple.
  • This is a good position for mothers who have had cesarean deliveries.

Cross Cradle

  • Sit either straight up in bed or in a comfortable chair with a pillow behind your back.
  • Lay the baby on his/her side on a pillow across your lap at the level of your breast. Make sure the baby’s nose is aligned with your nipple.
  • Position your baby’s head with your thumb behind one ear and forefinger behind the other ear, cradling the base of the baby’s head and upper back with your hand. Do not press on the back of your baby’s head.
  • Support your breast with the hand on the same side with your fingers on the inside of the breast and your thumb on the outside corresponding to 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock.

Laid-back or Biological Nurturing

  • Recline back at approximately a 45 degree angle. Your lap disappears and a longer torso allows baby more freedom of movement.
  • Allow baby to lie prone on your chest with his face turned to one side, chin up off his chest, and good access to the part of the breast below the nipple.
  • Baby’s cheek should touch your skin, which will stimulate him to lift his head and right it, triggering a wide, searching mouth.
  • Make sure baby’s nose is off breast for ease of breathing.
  • This is a good position to try if baby is having difficulty latching in a more traditional position, especially if he is in a light sleep state.

Cradle

  • Sit either straight up in bed or in a comfortable chair with a pillow behind your back.
  • Rest the baby on his/her side on a pillow in your lap.
  • Place his/her head in the crook of your arm.
  • Allow your breast to rest in a normal position then position your baby so that your nipple and his/her nose are in a direct line.
  • Be sure the baby is tummy-to-tummy with his/her nose directly in front of the nipple.
  • May use this position after the first two weeks.

Side-Lying

  • Lie down on the side you are going to nurse, with your arm under your head or around the baby.
  • Place a pillow behind your back for support.
  • Using your free hand, cup the breast (using a “C” position).
  • Either pull the baby toward your breast or roll toward the baby to attach him/her.
  • Roll to the other side and repeat.
  • This is a very relaxing and restful way to breastfeed! (May be easier after baby has mastered latch-on technique.)
  • Use after baby is back to birth weight (usually two weeks of age).