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Breast-Feeding Positions - Topic Overview

Breast-feeding in the proper position will help your baby latch on and breast-feed 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 breast-feeding 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 breast-feeding. Bring the baby to you—not you to the baby. Bending over can lead to back and neck problems.
  • 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 breast-feeding.
  • Use one or more pillows to support your arms and the baby. This will help you and your baby be more comfortable during feeding.

There are several breast-feeding positions.

Cradle hold

In the cradle (traditional) hold camera.gif, 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 mouth.

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 breast-feeding is well established.

Cross-cradle hold

The cross-cradle hold camera.gif 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.

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