Topic Overview

Breastfeeding in the proper position will help your baby latch on
and breastfeed correctly and make your experience more enjoyable. Also, when
you are in a comfortable and relaxed position,
let-down occurs more easily.

You are more likely to drain all areas of your breast by changing
breastfeeding positions frequently. This helps to prevent blocked milk ducts.
Women who have had a
cesarean delivery may find that they are more
comfortable in a different position than those who delivered vaginally.

In any position:

  • Do not bend over your baby when breastfeeding.
    Bring the baby to you-not you to the baby. Bending over can lead to back and neck
  • Keep your baby’s body and head aligned straight. The
    baby’s head should be straight with the body, not turned to one side or tilted
    up or down while breastfeeding.
  • Use one or more pillows to support your arms
    and the baby. This will help you and your baby be more comfortable during

There are several breastfeeding positions.

Cradle hold

In the
cradle (traditional) hold, you sit up with your back supported. One arm
supports your baby, with his or her head in the bend of your elbow and your
open hand supporting the baby’s bottom. Your baby’s abdomen lies against yours.
Your other hand can support the breast and guide it into your baby’s

You may wish to put a pillow in your lap on which to rest your arm
at a comfortable level or use a stool to raise your feet.

The cradle hold is often considered the most common hold, but it does not
offer as much control as other holds. The cradle hold position usually
does work well after breastfeeding is well established.

Cross-cradle hold

cross-cradle hold is similar to the cradle hold, but
the hand positions are different. This position may give you more control in
moving the baby. Your baby’s abdomen lies against yours. One hand is low on the
baby’s head, behind the shoulders with fingers up and supporting the head. The
other hand (on the same side as the breast being used) supports the breast and
narrows it to help the baby form a good, deep latch on the areola. This type of
hold helps you guide your baby to the breast for a proper latch.

Football hold

In the
football hold, you sit on a bed or sofa. Your baby is tucked under your arm and lying along the side you
will be feeding on, with his or her chest facing your chest. The baby’s head is
in your hand (on the same side as the breast being used), and the upper body is
supported by your arm or a pillow. With that
hand you can control the baby’s head to bring the baby’s mouth in quickly for a
deep latch. Your other hand reaches across to support and narrow your breast.
Use pillows to help support the baby.

The football hold is similar to the cross-cradle hold. But because
the baby is not resting on the abdomen, the football position is useful for
women who delivered by
cesarean delivery. It also works well for
breastfeeding twins or for babies who have trouble taking enough of the areola
(the dark circle around the nipple) into their mouths. Large-breasted women
also often find this a comfortable breastfeeding position.

Side-lying position

In the
side-lying position, you and your baby lie on your sides with your chests facing
each other. Place pillows behind the baby for support. Your baby’s mouth should
be close to your nipple. The hand on your top side supports your lower breast
and guides it into your infant’s mouth as you roll toward your rooting baby.
After the baby has latched on, use this arm to cuddle and bring your baby
closer to you.

You can also place your baby on a firm pillow by your side. Offer
the upper breast for feeding. Having the baby on the pillow can help some very
large- or small-breasted women see their baby more easily.

The side-lying position is a good option when you have delivered by
cesarean delivery or when you are tired.

Australian hold

In the
Australian hold, your baby is held vertically and straddles your thigh, facing you.
Your knee supports your baby on his or her bottom, while one hand is low on the
baby’s head to give control as you bring your baby to the breast to latch. It
may work best to have your baby sitting slightly “side-saddle.” The other hand
(on the same side as the breast being used) supports the breast to help the
baby form a good, deep latch on the areola.

Other Places To Get Help


La Leche League International

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Women’s Health

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC – Lactation Consultant

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017