What is the best feeding position? To put it in simple words, it is one in which you and your baby are relaxed and enjoy maximum comfort. There are different feeding positions. You can experiment with all and choose one that’s not too strenuous for you.
The Side-Lying Position
In this position, the mother lies down on either side with her body parallel to that of her baby’s. The baby’s chest and face should be against yours. You should use pillows to support your own back and head. Using your free arm, help your baby to latch onto the breast. Once done, support his neck and head with the free arm to allow him to feed comfortably. The side lying position is an ideal position for night time feeds. It is also great for women who had to undergo an episiotomy.
The Football Hold
In this position, you hold your baby under your arm, much like you would do to a football. Your baby is tucked under the arm on the side you will use to nurse; that is if you use the right breast to feed you will hold your little one under the right arm. Use the arm to support the body and the palm to support the head and neck. The football hold is good if you have multiples or if you’ve had a caesarean section and have been advised not to exert pressure on the belly.
The Cradle Position
Hold the baby lengthwise – his head resting in the crook of your elbow and his body across your abdomen. His entire body should face you. The elbow supports the head and neck while the rest of the arm supports the lower back and the bottom. Once again the feeding side is the same as the arm used for support. This position is generally recommended for older babies as proper head control becomes a little difficult in such a position.
The Cross-Cradle Position
In this position, hold the baby across your lap. Support the baby’s head and body with the arm opposite to breast he is feeding on. Thus, if your baby is feeding on the left breast, the right arm will be used to support his head and body.
Tips to get your baby to “Latch on”
There is a technique to get your baby to latch on correctly. After you and your baby have got comfortable, you should stimulate his rooting instinct. Gently cup the breast and use the nipple to stroke his lower lip. Your baby automatically opens his mouth and gropes for the feeding source. Support the neck and try to move your baby’s mouth closer to your breast.
To know if the baby has latched on properly take a look at the position of his lips. They should be averted. Besides, the baby’s lips on the breast should cover not only this nipple but also most of the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipples). If the baby has latched successfully, you will feel a slight tugging sensation. It should not be painful. In case your baby has not latched properly, break the suction with the tip of the finger and re-latch.
If you’re worried about doing it wrong see a lactation consultant. If you still struggle, just relax. Breastfeeding and many other aspects of motherhood don’t come naturally. You and your baby will gradually fall in step in a few weeks time.