Everyone knows the standard holds out there. They are the go to positions to put your baby in……
The Cross Cradle
And, The Football Hold
These are probably the most go to holds to use. The cross cradle is great, you can hold your breast and control your baby well. Controlling the baby, or better said: Having a firm hold on your baby, is so helpful in the first few weeks of nursing when you want your baby to be brought firmly to you. The football hold is excellent for avoiding pressure on the belly when you have had a C- section. It also gives you a firm hold on your baby and can be excellent when breasts are very large.
But, what else?
This hold is where the baby is sitting up and nursing. Their legs can straddle your waist or be off to one side. You are typically both sitting upright and your belly’s are facing one another (baby may be off at an angle if both legs are side saddle). This hold can be very helpful for babies that are getting older and want to be up and alert.
It can be especially helpful for women who have a forceful let down and have noticed their baby coughing and spluttering at the beginning of a feed.
When your baby sits upright she can use gravity to help her process the fast flow of milk and she can easily pull her head away when needed. She is less likely to cough and choke if her body is sitting tall. This position can be a dream for babies with any twist or torticollis from birth. From here you can support under their chin, move the chin to symmetry, shift their hips to accommodate their tendency to turn. No, imagine going from this sitting position and dropping into a plank pose….
I’ve really seen this done in plank pose. A little workout/ nursing multitasker. Really, besides the core strengthening nature of breastfeeding this way (which is a total bonus) the real thrill here is releasing plugged ducts, allowing gravity to drain the breasts fully. There are those ducts up in your arm pits and threading throughout your breast like an asterisk *. This position encourages the downward flow of milk from all of those ducts into your baby’s mouth. This could become your favorite go to or it can be in your back pocket when some ducts feel a little backed up. Next up is a well known for any veteran nurser but worth mentioning just in case you have been living on a deserted island and had never heard of it.
What? Why mention this? Everyone knows this one! Believe it or not I find that people are just not hip to this every time. I often meet people surprised by the beauty of this hold. I myself was one of those surprised people and it absolutely revolutionized my nighttime experience. Previously I had been playing the part of a do gooder, diligently propping my pillows and sitting erect to put my baby into a well known position such as football hold. Then I would silently weep at how numb my bum was getting and how horrible it felt to be sitting at 2am. Then, my baby would cry, I would get her out of her bassinet (which was right up against the bed – praise the Lord) place her against my body and nurse while gently awake until she was finished. It felt like the most seamless, sleep, dream, nurse, repeat routine.
Having glowingly adored this position I do realize that there are moms (friends of mine) that are out there and prefer to sit upright at 2 am. They even sit in chairs. I want you to know that I know you are the same people who never forget to take your makeup off at night or brush your teeth on a regular basis and for that I want you to know I admire you and I’m out of your league.
Of note…this can work for you right out of the gate or it may work better when our milk is in and the baby is working less to root for your nipple. Also, if you have a smaller chest (you look better in tank tops and just about everything btw) this can be a tricky position but not impossible. You may need to bolster the baby up against you with some kind of prop.
Last but not least my absolute favorite…..
The Laid Back Hold or Biological Position
This is the hallelujah of positions. Feeding your baby this way is akin to having soy sauce with sushi, adding a banana to a smoothie or when someone figured out that peanut butter went well with jelly; it just makes everything better. Not only does your baby have the chance let fly all her natural reflexes ( rooting, bobbing the head, grasping, molding the breast) you are actually lying down. Can we acknowledge how profound that is? To permit yourself to lie down? Gravity is at it most comforting here. You are being supported by gravity and so is your baby. They are on their bellies – which can be immensely soothing for them, they are using their strong necks to find the breast and they are doing all the work. The word “hold” shouldn’t be connected to this position because there is really no “holding” which is so beautiful. You will lend a hand or arm for support and that is about it.
You don’t have to be fully laid back like this beautiful mamma. You can be reclined and it works just as well. Often if your baby has a chin that sits far back, or your nipples aren’t super everted, or you suspect a tongue tie this position can really help get the baby on deeper. Afraid of what you will do with your other child as you recline in this position? Read a book….cuddle together…in bed. This is a tough one to pull off in a restaurant but I challenge you to try it.
Feeding on the Go
If sitting around really bums you out and you want or need to be doing things then get a carrier and nurse your baby on the go. You baby in a sling, nursing at your breast, is doable in almost any sling or carrier.
I once was so desperate for company and to be part of a dinner with friends I determined to make an elaborate Indian meal, complete with freshly roasted and ground spices, yogurt sauce, fresh chutney and rice pilau. Needless to say it took me ALL day and I loved it. What I didn’t love was being interrupted (I’m sorry to all the attached moms out there – I know I should adore being interrupted by my beautiful baby but sometimes I love completing projects). So I dashed over to my coat rack, grabbed a super odd sling I hadn’t gotten the hang of yet and got my baby positioned in it and latched and got back to cooking. It was incredibly empowering to be able to soothe, bond and create a meal all at once. Talk about freedom. In reality this kind of nursing is a necessity with multiple children.
If you love yoga , please feel free to try this one though I would caution against it if headstand is not a solid option for you!
That wraps up Breastfeeding holds. On a final note, it’s important to me that you know that just about any position is a good one if you hear your baby sucking and swallowing frequently and it brings you both joy. There really is no rule book here.
Please feel free to contact me about any breastfeeding positions you love and want to share!