Did you know that there are several breastfeeding positions that you can do to to make your nursing experience easier and more importantly a pleasant one?
Giving birth to your precious one is the start of your new journey. Breastfeeding is the next learning process you ought to have in order to keep your baby healthy.
By exploring the different breastfeeding positions will benefit your baby’s comfort and safety. In time you will be able to identify the acceptable position that will work for you and your baby.
A good breastfeeding position will allow you and your baby make the most of the breastfeeding experience.
Remember! Breastfeeding is also a special mother-and-child bonding that will allow you to build an early relationship with your child.
Below are some basic tips to keep in mind that you can apply to any of the breastfeeding positions you are about to learn.
- Always have something (e.g pillow) that will position your back to be well-supported
- There shouldn’t be any pain or discomfort both for you and your baby
- Your baby’s ear, shoulder and hip must be aligned in a straight line.
- Ensure that you’re baby’s nose is free from any obstacle for proper breathing
- Position you baby’s head slightly tilted to let him latch and swallow easily
- Have drink ready that is just within your reach before breastfeeding
Meanwhile, here are the general steps on how to breastfeed your baby.
- When you feel that your baby is now ready to breast feed, bring him/her closer to your breast
- Support your baby’s shoulder so he/she can freely move her head
- Use your one hand as a guiding hand to hold your breast
- Cup your breast but make sure you are not touching your areola
- Position your baby’s mouth at the height of you nipple. You have to wait for your baby’s mouth to be wide-open before you can gently introduce your areola into his/her mouth using your guiding hand.
- Your nipple and areola must be inside your baby’s mouth, but you don’t need to push your baby towards your breast.
- To know if your baby latches well, his/her chin is pressed about an inch into your breast; his/her head is titled back; and the tip of his nose will touch your breast.
These are the different Breastfeeding positions, with a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Laid-back Breastfeeding Position (Biological Nurturing)
- Put yourself in a sitting position, but a bit slouching
- Use pillows to support your head and whole back
- Do a skin-to skin with your baby by placing him/her on top of you.
- Make sure your baby’s head is aimed towards your breast
- Secure your baby’s position using your both hands
- If correctly positioned, your baby will start to look for your breast. He/She will lift up his/her head and use hands to find your nipple. Once ready, your baby will start to latch and suckle
Cradle Position (when breastfeeding from the right breast)
- Carry your baby sideways using your right arm
- Let your baby be in a lying down position.
- Support your baby’s head with your right forearm near the elbow. Your right hand should catch your baby’s bottom.
- You may use your left hand as the guiding hand to introduce your breast or use it as a support to your right arm
- A pillow can be used for extra support
Cross-cradle position (when breastfeeding from the right breast)
- Open your left hand to catch the back of your baby’s head
- Hold your baby facing towards your right breast using your left arm
- Your left forearm must support your baby’s body
- Your baby’s bottom is clipped between your arms and body. Make sure not to make it too tight and that our baby’s unexposed arm is positioned safely
- Use your right hand as the guiding hand to introduce your breast
- A pillow can be used for extra support
Foot-ball hold position (when breastfeeding from the right breast)
- Have a pillow laid out and place your right arm on top of the pillow for support
- Open your right hand to catch the back of your baby’s head. Place your baby on top of your right hand that is already placed on top of the pillow
- Hold your baby facing towards your right breast using your right arm
- Your baby’s lower body must between your elbow and side body, with his/her legs and feet extending towards your back
- Use your left hand as the guiding hand to introduce your breast
Lying Down – Do this position if you are tired
- Lie on your side with your head tilted but supported by your arms
- Put a pillow at the back of your head for support or our may opt to add more for your back and in between your knees
- Have your baby lie near you with his/her head near placed at the same level of your breast
- Use your one hand to support your baby’s shoulders and back and position your baby facing your breast
- Your baby’s chin must be pressed against your breast and his/her nose is level with your nipple
- Pull your baby close when he/she opens his/her mouth wide
If you need more guidance in doing any of these breastfeeding positions, you may consult your doctor/OB-GYN. There are also classes for breastfeeding positions that you can enroll to make you more confident in doing it.
Breastfeeding in Public
There are times that you are outside home and need to breastfeed your baby.
It is understandable if you feel a bit shy or awkward to do breastfeeding in public.
That is why, you should only do it of you are comfortable with it.
Nowadays, because of the strong support and promotion of breastfeeding, many people have been accustomed to it.
Actually, breastfeeding moms are not required to cover-up or got to covered places just to feed your baby.
Remember! You may always breastfeed anywhere and do any of the breastfeeding positions discussed earlier.
Provided, you have what you need to do them.
So here are tips on how to breastfeed in public:
- Wear a nursing bra when going out for an easier preparation when you need to breastfeed.
- During your lactation period, it is advisable that you bring scarf or wear a loose jacket over your top when going out. You may opt to use them to cover your breast and your baby while feeding.
- You may also wear buttoned shirts/blouses so that you don’t have to pull-up your clothing when breastfeeding.
- If inside a building or an establishment, inquire politely if a lactation station is available. Many establishments have become mother-and-child friendly by dedicating areas for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and Taking Care of your baby
Now that you have learned the basic knowledge about breastfeeding positions, the next best thing to learn is how to take care of your baby while nursing him/her.
Remember! Your newborn baby can’t talk yet. Therefore, it is your responsibility to understand their body language and non-verbal cues in order to give what your baby needs.
Read on to get ideas on how make breastfeeding experience good for you and your baby too!
When can I start to Breastfeed my baby?
No other answer but- Immediately!
The best way to welcome your baby is to can start breastfeeding so that your baby can get the Colostrum from you.
As discussed in our other articles, Colostrum is the -colored milk your breast will produce first. It is very rich in nutrients that can boost your baby’s immune system.
Surprisingly, newborn babies already know how to latch, you just need to guide them a bit.
You can start by doing skin-to-skin. Ask someone to help you do this after giving birth
- Let your baby lie down in an upright position on top of your bare chest and tummy
- The baby’s arms and hands must not be tucked under and the baby’s head must be sideways to allow breathing
- Your skin must touch your baby’s skin as much as possible.
- Then ask to for a blanket to cover you both.
Here are the benefits of skin-to-skin:
- Makes your baby feel calm, relaxed and warmer
- Helps your baby to breathe properly while getting ready for the first breastfeeding experience
- Aids in stabilizing your baby’s heart rate
- Gives your baby comfort
- Promotes bonding
- Can improve your milk supply
- Helps you develop special immunity against germs found in the NICU. This is then passed to your baby through your breast milk that can protect your baby from infection
Once your baby is ready to breastfeed, you will notice that he/she will start looking for your breast or this is what is called baby-led latching.
Initially, your baby may just lick or bob his head up and down over your breast. After a while, your baby will eventually latch on to it. You might feel a sudden contraction similar to what you felt during your labor. No need to worry, it’s normal.
If breastfeeding immediately after birth is not possible, you may hand express your milk (see Breastfeeding 101: Basic Guide for New Moms) and collect it with using a spoon or cup, then use it to feed your baby. Ask assistance from nurses to do this.
Consider rooming-in you baby also. This will also give you the opportunity to do skin-to-skin and prepare your baby for breastfeeding.
It i advisable that you start practicing any of the breastfeeding positions we’ve mentioned to make nursing easier.
How many time should I breastfeed my baby?
As a new breastfeeding mom, you may not know this right away. However, you must still focus more on the feeding needs of your baby.
To give you an idea on how much milk your baby can consume, here are estimate measurements of their stomach.
Newborn babies need to feed often as their stomach is as small as the size of a cherry. It increases by the 3rd day to a size of a walnut, then about the size of an egg at the first week.
Frequency of breastfeeding may be different for each baby, but most newborn babies feed 8 times or more within 24 hours. You should feed your baby as long as he/she is showing feeding cues.
Newborn babies usually displays a common behavior to signal their hunger.
Below are signs that your baby wants to feed or what is called “feeding cues”:
Early cues – “I’m hungry”
- moving arms
- opening mouth, sticking tongue out
- makes smacking or sucking sounds
- putting hand into mouth
- rooting or turning head side to side looking for something to latch
Mid cues – “I’m really hungry”
- more movements
- putting hand into mouth
- breathing fast
- makes smacking or sucking sounds but sighing as if about to cry
Late cues – “I’m really hungry. Calm me then feed me”
- crying and turning red
- distressed body movements
Your baby must be calm before breastfeeding so he/she can latch properly. Read these helpful tips and do it before feeding:
- Do skin-to-skin
- Rock your baby gently
- Hold your baby close to your chest and walk around
- Lightly stroke your baby’s back
- Try to quiet your baby by singing a lullaby, saying “shhh” or talk to your baby
- Check if diapers need to be changed
- Try burping your baby
Keep in mind that the duration and interval for your baby’s feeding pattern may not always be the same.
In the early weeks of breastfeeding, some babies can already develop their feeding routine, while some may do “cluster feeding”.
It is the time when the baby wants short feeds in matter of few hours, which is a normal behavior and commonly occurs in the afternoon or evening.
How will I know if my baby is getting enough breastmilk?
Aside from tracking the frequency of your baby’s feeding, you must also observe these things to gauge if your baby is getting enough breastmilk:
- Your baby feed at least 8 times within 24 hours
- Check if your baby is active and cries with a strong voice
- Your baby looks healthy and does not look pale (wet,pink mouth; bright eyes)
- Your baby gains weight correctly. Most babies lose weight in the first 3 days after birth. However, they should start gaining regularly on the 4th day onwards.
- Your baby’s wet and dry diapers (urine and stool)
Guidelines on ideal wet and dry diapers during breastfeeding (per day, on average of 24 hrs):
Urine– 1 wet diaper= 30 ml or 2 tablespoons water ; must be clear or pale yellow and odorless
Day 1 – at least 1 wet diaper
Day 2 – at least 2 wet diapers
Day 3 – at least 3 wet diapers
Day 4 – at least 4 wet diapers
Day 5 to 7 – at least 6 wet diapers
Stool – must be soft (not watery) and thick like soup
Day 1 to 2 – at least 1 to 2 soiled diapers; color is black or dark green
Day 3 to 4 – at least 1 to 3 soiled diapers; color is brown, green or yellow
Day 5 to 7 – at least 3 large, color is yellow, texture is soft and seedy
*Babies under 3 weeks of age who are breastfeeding well, must release soft stool 3 or more times a day.
By third to fourth week, it will decrease by 1-2 times in a day or one large stool every few days.
If your baby shows otherwise, you must see your baby’s pediatrician.
However, here are some danger signs that you need to watch out for. Be sure to see your baby’s doctor if you notice any of these:
- Your baby’s feeding session is either very short or long time
- The interval of feeding is unusually long
- Inadequate weight gain since birth
- Fewer stool and urine compared to what was stated above
- Your baby is always sleepy, irritable or restless
- Dry mouth or eyes
- Soft spot on baby’s head appears sunken
How can my baby get enough breastmilk?
In order for your baby to get enough breastmilk, he/she must be latched properly.
To know this, you must observe the following while breastfeeding:
- Your baby is calm
- Your baby’s mouth should be wide-open and you are not able to see his/her lips
- Suckling is regular, strong and slow
- You can hear your baby swallowing
- You can see movement in the lower part of your baby’s face (chin, jaw, ears)
Even while sleeping, there are times that you need to feed your baby. Read on and learn how to manage feeding this situation.
Younger babies usually fall asleep while feeding. If taking away your breasts wakes your baby, it means he/she is not yet full.
To keep breastfeeding your sleeping baby until he/she is full, you can do breast compressions by pressing your breast towards your ribs until your milk flows.
However, you can only do this when your baby is still sucking lightly and continues to swallow. If the sucking stops, you can unlatch your baby gently.
If your newborn baby is sleeping more than 3 hours without feeding, you might need to wake him/her up to feed.
Here are some tips on how to wake your baby for breastfeeding:
- Watch out for feeding cues. Feed your baby immediately if feeding cues show. Babies can latch even when they are drowsy.
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin to encourage breastfeeding
- Check diaper and change it if wet or soiled
- Gently massage your baby’s arms , legs and back
- Unwrap and remove clothing of your baby
- Gently rock your baby side to side
- Talk to your baby
- Hold your baby close and express a few drops of your milk. Your baby will smell it and may look for your breast to feed.
Why do I need to burp my baby after breastfeeding?
When breastfeeding, your baby is unable to intake much air. It is advisable to burp your baby after feeding to avoid any discomfort.
Some babies may feel irritable when not burped after breastfeeding.
Not all babies can burp on their own. If your baby needs help, here are different ways to burp your baby:
- Hold your baby straight up. Use your hand and arms to support your baby’s head and back, then gently pat your baby’s back ; or
- Place your baby on your lap in a sitting position. Support your baby’s jaw using your hand as he/she will be leaning slightly towards you; or
- Let your baby lie on his/her stomach in our lap and gently pat his/her back
Sometimes babies spit-up milk after feeding. You should not be alarmed if your baby looks contented and continues to gain weight.