When you pictured yourself breastfeeding, you probably visualised the classic cradle hold in which you, well, basically just cradled your baby and popped it on your boob just like nature intended. Easy huh? Ha. We all know it’s not always as straightforward as that, but the good news there are plenty of others you can try instead as you and your baby get to know each other’s bodies (sure, they’ve had 9 months to do that, but it’s different on the outside…).
In fact, you can feed your baby pretty much any way you like, as long as they’re safe, so we’d recommend doing whatever feels most comfortable to start with. Don’t worry, you won’t have to carry cushions around with you forever – within a few weeks, you’ll be such a pro that you can probably feed them standing on your head (although this isn’t necessarily something we’d recommend…)…
The perfect position for… newbies
Laid back breastfeeding, also known as biological nurturing, is likely to be the first position you try feeding your baby in, live from your hospital bed (or very own bed, if you had a successful home birth – go you!). By reclining into a bed or comfy chair, with plenty of cushions to support you, you’ll be able to concentrate on getting your baby onto your boob, rather than holding them tightly, since your tummy will be supporting their body. It’s also a great position for the less perky of boob, since it raises your nips to a more optimal position, and for anyone with a forceful letdown since it will slow the flow of milk slightly.
The perfect position for… big boobs
The rugby hold, in which your baby is tucked round the side of your body, can take a bit of getting used to, and you’ll almost certainly need a dedicated nursing cushion to start with to support your baby’s body, but once perfected can be handy for anyone with big boobs, and also those who’ve had a c-section and therefore want to keep the baby’s weight off their healing tummy. It’s also a nice one for getting a good view of your baby’s beautiful (obvs) face. But it’s not subtle, so anyone nervous about feeding in public might want to experiment a little first.
The perfect position for… multi-taskers
The cross cradle is where you support your baby with the opposite arm to the side you’re feeding on, and is a good one if you’d like a hand free to stuff chocolate into your mouth/do arts and crafts with an older child/answer the door to the postman. However, it can be tricky if you’ve got bigger boobs, as you might not feel like there’s enough support – although you could always use that free hand to position your boob more effectively.
The perfect position for… out and about
A tricky one with newborns, but worth a go once your baby can support its own head, the koala hold is where your baby straddles your leg and sits upright facing your boobs. It can work well on your lap in cafes/on the bus/on a park bench and, if you favour the “one-up, one-down” style of boob-friendly dressing (where you pull up your top layer and pull down your bottom one to give your baby access to the good stuff) you can do it without flashing very much flesh at all. It’s also good for any particularly gassy or refluxy babies as keeps their backs nice and straight and therefore more likely to do an efficient burp without all that relentless winding.
The perfect position for.. getting some sleep
If you’re co-sleeping, you’ll worry about nodding off during feeds, but if you perfect the side lying position, you’ll be optimising their safety and your comfort so it doesn’t matter if you drop off. We’d recommend popping a pillow behind you to support your back, and making sure your baby’s side of the bed is flat, firm and clear of loose blankets. You simply feed them lying on your side and then slide them away a little when they’ve nodded off. If your body gets sore from staying in the same position all night, a co-sleeping cot can keep them safely close by without you having to stay rigidly in one spot all night.