Comfortable Breastfeeding Positions for You and Your Baby

By: Dr. Nazeli Gevorgyan - February 16, 2024 - 12 Minute Read

Comfortable Breastfeeding Positions | The Milky Box

If you're finding it difficult to breastfeed your baby, then you're not alone. It's a common challenge that many new mothers face. But don't worry, we're here to help!

In this article, you'll find helpful tips and tricks to make your nursing journey more comfortable and enjoyable. We've got you covered from finding the correct position that works for you and your baby to ensuring that your little one is latched correctly. So, let's get started and make breastfeeding a breeze!

Breastfeeding: A Vital Start for Infant Health

Encouraging breastfeeding for a minimum of two years and introducing solid foods around six months, as suggested by the WHO, sets a positive foundation for the health of babies and mothers.

How Long should you breastfeed? | The Milky Box

Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby

Breastfeeding offers essential nutrients for babies, boosts the immune system, prevents illnesses, improves IQ, and creates a strong emotional bond between mother and baby. Its adaptable composition meets the baby’s changing needs, making breast milk a superfood when a mom is in relatively good health.

Benefits for Mother 

Breastfeeding offers various benefits for mothers as well. It aids in postpartum weight loss by burning extra calories and assists in contracting the uterus, promoting a faster recovery after childbirth. 

Moreover, nursing has been linked to a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers. It has a natural contraceptive effect, delaying the return of menstrual cycles. Additionally, breastfeeding is convenient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly.

Best Feeding Benefits | The Milky Box

Recognize Feeding Cues 

Now that we’ve covered the incredible benefits of breastfeeding let’s focus on something crucial: understanding when your baby is hungry.

Take note of your baby’s early hunger cues, such as mouth opening or sucking on hands, allowing you to choose a comfortable breastfeeding position before they become overly hungry. Don’t wait for crying — that’s a late sign of hunger. 

Explore more about the baby’s feeding cues in our article!

Get Comfortable Clothing and Gear

Opt for comfy nursing bras, easy-access clothing, and consider adding a soft nursing cover for extra privacy during feeding. A supportive nursing pillow can be a game-changer. Don’t forget about a water bottle to stay hydrated during those extended feeding sessions. These simple additions to your breastfeeding tool kit can make a difference in creating a convenient nursing environment.

Now let’s delve into the core elements of our discussion — latch and positioning.

Suggestions for comfortable clothing and gear | The Milky Box

The First Week: Positioning and Latch

Effective breastfeeding involves mastering both positioning and latching. Positioning refers to how you hold your baby during nursing, while latching is how your baby takes the breast into their mouth. 

Achieving the proper positioning and latch contributes to establishing a strong milk supply, making feeding comfortable and pain-free, ensuring your baby receives enough milk for healthy weight gain, and preventing common issues like sore nipples, engorged breasts or clogged ducts. 

Is My Baby Latched on Well?

When working for a proper latch, remembering the acronym "CHIN" can be a helpful guide.

C — Close: First, ensure your baby is held close to you.

H — Head: Check that their head is slightly tilted back, promoting a wide and deep latch.

I — In Line: Keep their nose and chin in line with each other.

N —Nose: The baby’s nose should be opposite the nipple.

Consider incorporating this acronym into your breastfeeding journey for a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Signs of a Good Latch | The Milky Box

Common Breastfeeding Positions

Moms have different preferences for breastfeeding positions. Babies instinctively find the breast using behaviors like sticking their tongue out, turning their head, wriggling, and attaching to the breast. You can opt for baby-led attachment, allowing your baby to find their way to the breast using these instincts, often while lying in a reclining position.

Alternatively, mother-led attachment involves choosing a position that suits you and helping your baby attach. Let’s discuss different nursing positions and find what might work best for you and your little one.

Common Nursing Positions | The Milky Box

Cradle Hold Positioning

The cradle hold, also known as the Madonna hold, is a popular breastfeeding position. It’s likely the typical nursing position you imagine, known for its convenience and comfort. It’s also appropriate for nursing in public. The close contact promotes bonding between the mother and baby. In this position:

Sit comfortably: Find a comfortable chair with armrests, or use cushions or pillows on a bed for support.

Position baby’s head: Place your baby across your chest, with their head resting in the crook of your elbow on the side you plan to breastfeed.

Use the opposite arm: Cradle the baby’s bottom with your other arm, supporting their back and ensuring they lie on their side.

Create a cradle: Gently bring the baby close to your body.

Tuck baby’s arm: Ensure the baby’s arm on the side you are holding is tucked under yours for added support.

Check alignment: Make sure your little one’s head, neck, and back are in a straight line and well-supported.

Support with pillows: Use pillows to support your arm or the baby, if needed, to maintain a comfortable and secure position.

Consider resting your feet on a stool if using a chair to prevent leaning forward and back pain.

The cradle hold might limit the mother’s view of the baby’s latch, making it challenging to ensure a proper latch. Holding the baby in the cradle position for an extended period might lead to arm fatigue and neck strain. For mothers who have had a C-section, this position might pose some challenges due to potential discomfort around the incision site.

Cross-Cradle Position   

The cross-cradle hold, also known as the transitional hold or crossover hold, is similar to the cradle hold, but you support your baby on the arm opposite the breast in use. 

This position gives you more control over the baby’s head: hold its neck and upper back with your hand, face your baby towards you, aligning its mouth with your nipple. You can shape your breast with the free arm, making it easier to latch. Once your baby is latched and sucking, you can switch to the traditional cradle hold to continue feeding comfortably for an extended period.

Cross Cradle | The Milky Box

Football or Rugby Hold    

The football/rugby hold, also known as the underarm or clutch hold, involves cradling your baby like holding a handbag beneath your arm or a football close to your body. This hold drains the breast differently. It also offers better control for both you and the baby.

The football hold is advantageous for C-section recovery, as it keeps the baby’s weight off the tummy and scar area. It is also helpful for handling large breasts or flat nipples since you can quickly see both your nipple and the baby’s mouth and easily guide their head. Additionally, it aids in coping with a strong letdown, as it allows having more control over the flow of milk.

The upright position in this hold may help minimize the impact of a forceful let-down, reducing choking, gulping, and reflux. The football hold is also recommended for premature infants and mothers breastfeeding twins. In this position:

Ensure Comfort: Find a chair with a cushion or sit with a pillow along the side you want to feed from.

Place Baby: Place your baby under your arm, close to your hips, and face them toward the breast, with their nose in line with your nipple.

Support Neck and Head: Use your hand to support your baby’s neck, cradling their head.

Free Hand Use: Use your free hand to support your breast if needed and guide your baby to latch onto your nipple.

Double football hold

For twins, you may start breastfeeding each baby separately to check on them. Later, if you want to breastfeed them together, use the football hold with one baby on each side.

Football Hold | The Milky Box

Laid-back Breastfeeding or Biological Nurturing

Laid-back breastfeeding, or biological nursing, is a relaxed feeding position where you lie in a semi-reclined position. The baby is placed tummy to tummy on your chest, encouraging a baby-led attachment. This position is particularly beneficial after a cesarean section, as it minimizes abdominal muscle use. 

This method enhances a baby’s feeding instincts, improves latch, and reduces nipple trauma, as per a study by Wang et al.

Laid-back breastfeeding is recommended for those with a strong letdown or oversupply, as it helps slow the milk flow. It is also suitable for babies with reflux or excessive spitting-up, as it allows the baby to feed in a more upright position.

To practice laid-back breastfeeding:

Recline: Lean back, not fully flat, on a comfy surface.

Support: Use cushions and pillows for back and neck support.

Place Baby: Put your baby stomach to stomach on your chest, or if you’ve had a C-section, you can lay them across you, ensuring they are away from the incision.

Maintain Eye Contact: Stay upright enough to make eye contact with your little one.

Guide to nipple: Guide your baby to latch naturally.

Laid Back breastfeeding | The Milky Box

Side-Lying Position

The side-lying position is ideal for those who’ve undergone a cesarean, during nighttime breastfeeding, or when feeling fatigued and in need of rest. It’s also beneficial if you experience a strong milk letdown or milk oversupply, as it can help manage the milk flow.

★ Both you and your baby lie on your sides, facing each other, tummy to tummy. Ensure your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line.

★ Use pillows to support your back and head and a rolled-up baby blanket behind your baby for added support.

★ Tuck your lying arm under your head and use the other to support the baby or shape your breast.

The side-lying position allows for easy breast-switching without getting up. Elevate your baby with a pillow to the upper breast, or alternatively, hug him to your chest and roll to the other side.

Side lying position | The Milky Box

Dancer Hand Nursing Position

Suppose your baby struggles with weak latching or sucking, perhaps due to conditions like low muscle tone, Down’s syndrome, disabilities, or illness, or is born prematurely. In that case, you might find the dancer’s handhold beneficial.

To execute this technique, use the C-hold to support your breast, then shift your hand forward, freeing your index finger and thumb. Place your bent index finger on one cheek and the thumb on the other, forming a ‘U’ with your baby’s chin resting at the bottom.

The dancer’s hand position not only eases the weight of the breast off your baby’s chin but also supports weak cheek muscles.

Upright Breastfeeding or Koala Hold    

In the upright, koala, or straddle hold nursing position, you typically sit comfortably upright, and your baby straddles your thigh or hip while facing you.

For mothers in wheelchairs, this position can be exceptionally accommodating. It’s suitable for older babies, who can sit and hold their heads up, allowing more freedom of movement. The koala hold is also beneficial for babies with reflux and ear infections, and nasal congestion, given its upright orientation.

Koala Hold | The Milky Box

Your Personal Breastfeeding Adventure

Every mother is unique, so there’s no one perfect breastfeeding position — it’s a personal journey of trial and error. Over time, you’ll discover what works best for you and your baby.

Need extra support? Lactation specialists are just a message away. Trust your instincts and enjoy nurturing your little one. For more tips and insights, check out “The Milky Box”, your go-to resource for baby nutrition, breastfeeding, and more.


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Nazeli Gevorgyan is a medical doctor from Armenia, and is a researcher in the fields of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among others. Dr. Nazeli is passionate with providing women and parents with reliable and high-quality information on healthy options for infant nutrition, breastfeeding, infant formula, and food. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, traveling, and pottery. 

Leave a Comment:

Comments will be approved before showing up.




Read Next:

Reviewed by Dr. Eric Wood, ND, MA

Dr. Wood is a licensed naturopathic doctor, with a doctorate degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada. He received his post-graduation certification in Mind Body Medicine at Harvard University.

With 15 years of experience, Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Holistic Nutrition at the American College of Health Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Wood is an educator, clinician, author, media figure, consultant, and owns his own holistic (naturopathic) medical practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Wood is currently researching and drafting books on cancer and pediatrics.

Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Wood loves singing with the Miami Lyric Opera and is an avid musician in South Florida. He also loves spending time with his wife and kids.