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The best positions for feeding your baby

The best positions for feeding your baby

Breastfeeding can be the most confusing and confounding part of new motherhood. What’s latching? What’s cluster feeding? And what on earth is the koala hold? At Elvie we’re keen on breaking down the difficult questions with simple answers. So read on to find out what the different breastfeeding positions are and which one might be right for you. And remember, there are lots of different ways to breastfeed and there’s not one position or way that’s right or wrong. 


The most popular three

You’ve probably heard of one of these three as they’re the most popular breastfeeding positions, but let’s talk about them and why they’re the most common techniques.

Cradle hold

Most of us would do anything for an easy life, right mama? This is why the cradle hold is the most popular breastfeeding position. It’s simple and generally a comfortable position that you can use in a comfy armchair or on your bed with a load of pillows around. However, the cradle hold isn’t a great position if you've had a cesarean because your baby will be across your tummy near the scar

How to do the cradle hold:

  • Lie your baby across your lap, facing you.
  • Place your baby's head on your forearm – nose towards your nipple. Your hand should support the length of their body.
  • Place your baby's lower arm under yours.
  • Check to make sure your baby's ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line.

Laid-back or reclined position

You’ve been woken up at 3 am for 7 nights in a row – enter the laid-back breastfeeding technique. Lying on your side is a really useful position if you need to feed the little one in the middle of the night, if you’ve had a cesarean delivery or difficult delivery, or if you just like lying down. (We’re with you.) 

How to do the reclined position:

  • Start by getting comfy lying on your side. Your baby lies facing you, so you are tummy to tummy. Check to make sure your baby's ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line – not twisted.
  • Put some cushions or pillows behind you for support. A rolled-up baby blanket placed behind your baby will help support them – remember to remove it after you have finished feeding. If you've got a pillow under your head, make sure it's not too close to your baby's head or face.
  • Tuck the arm you're lying on under your head or pillow (ensuring your baby's position isn't altered by the pillow) and use your free arm to support and guide your baby's head to your breast.

Rugby hold (the ‘clutch’)

This one’s a little more niche because one of the main pros of using the rugby hold is the ability to feed more than one baby at the same time, so it’s perfect for those with twins. But mamas who’ve had a cesarean delivery will also benefit from this easy position. 

How to do the rugby hold: 

  • Sit in a chair with a cushion or pillow along your side.
  • Position your baby at your side (the side you want to feed from), under your arm, with their hips close to your hips.
  • Your baby's nose should be level with your nipple.
  • Support your baby's neck with the palm of your hand.
  • Gently guide them to your nipple.

The underdogs

These are the breastfeeding positions that you might not have considered or heard of yet, but the more techniques you try, the more likely you are to discover a position that feels natural to you. So you might as well give them a go. 

Koala hold (upright breastfeeding)

The koala hold is a great position for feeding older babies who can sit on their own, babies that suffer from reflux or ear infections, and also babies who have low muscle tone or a tongue-tie.

How to do the koala hold:

  • Sit your baby on your thigh or hip so they’re straddling it.
  • Position your baby so they’re sitting upright as they come to your breast.
  • Support their head as they feed.

Nursing in a sling

It’s possible to feed your baby whilst they’re in a sling, but it might take you a little bit of practice. This is a really useful position to use if you’re out and about and need to feed your baby, if your baby doesn’t like being put down (but you still want to be able to, you know, move), is a frequent feeder, or even if you’re busy around the house or doing some light chores and need to feed your baby at the same time.

How to nurse in a sling:

  • Make sure the baby is in the sling, in a safe and comfortable position.
  • Lower the sling slightly so that your baby is closer toward your breast and can feed easily.
  • Support your baby as they feed.
  • Once your baby has finished feeding, make sure to move them back up to the original position.

Dangle feeding

This is a great position for mums that have mastitis or may not want their breasts to be touched or squashed. Although there’s no scientific proof of this yet, some mums also claim that dangle feeding can help clear the milk ducts due to the gravity in the equation.

How to dangle feed:

  • Lay your baby on it’s back, this can be on your lap, on the bed or the floor.
  • Stand on all fours and dangle your breast over your baby, making sure that your breast is hanging and you can feel the gravity pulling it down.
  • Guide your baby to your breast and begin feeding.
  • You may also need some cushions or pillows if you’re feeding for a longer period of time.

You can do it mama

Knowing a variety of breastfeeding positions can be a very useful tool to have in your belt. It can make breastfeeding in different situations more comfortable and an easier experience. But at the end of the day, remember that the most important thing about breastfeeding is doing what works best for both you and your baby.