For new moms who choose to breastfeed, figuring out a breastfeeding position that works for both mom and baby might be a challenge.
Chrisie Rosenthal, a certified lactation consultant with The Lactation Network, tells TODAY.com the main breastfeeding positions include cross-cradle, football (or clutch), cradle, laid-back breastfeeding and side-lying.
For those who might wonder: What is the best breastfeeding position? Rosenthal says, "The best position is the one that is comfortable for parent and baby, allows for a deep latch and promotes effective milk transfer."
Rosenthal says in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, cross-cradle and football positions are the most common breastfeeding positions for newborns.
“They give the parent the most control over the baby’s body and head while latching,” Rosenthal says. “They also offer the best view of the latch, which can be helpful in the early days of latching.”
5 Breastfeeding Positions To Try
Rosenthal shares five breastfeeding positions that encourage deep latches and effective milk transfer to baby.
Baby’s body is positioned tummy to tummy, horizontally across the parent’s torso. Parent supports the breast with the hand on the feeding side (right breast, right hand — left breast, left hand). Opposite arm supports the baby with a thumb and forefinger placed behind the baby’s head.
Baby’s body is positioned along the side of parent’s body under their arm. Parent supports the breast with the hand on the same side (right breast, right hand — left breast, left hand).
Similar to cross-cradle, except the baby is positioned in the parent’s arm closest to the side baby is feeding on, resting head in crook of parent’s elbow. Baby is tummy to tummy, horizontally across the parent’s torso.
Feeding parent is reclined, and baby is positioned diagonally across torso, tummy to tummy with parent. Parent’s arm on the feeding side cradles the baby for support.
Parent and baby lay next to each other, tummy to tummy, on their sides. Baby’s head is aligned with the breast. Typically, this is done on a bed or a large flat surface, following safety precautions. This position is not recommended for a couch.
Breastfeeding Positions Laying Down
Side-lying position is the breastfeeding position where both the feeding parent and baby are laying down, on their sides, facing each other and baby’s head is aligned with the parent’s breast.
"It’s important to follow safety guidelines in this position, as the parent and baby may transition to a nap after feeding," Rosenthal says, adding that it is important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages bed-sharing.
Breastfeeding Positions For Reflux
Rosenthal tells TODAY.com that upright or gravitational positions are often used to help babies with reflux feed more comfortably.
In these positions the baby’s head is placed higher than their feet.
With upright breastfeeding, sometimes referred to as a "koala hold," the feeding parent places baby on their leg, so baby straddles their thigh and feeds upright with their head and spine straight, while the feeding parent supports baby's neck.
Why is it important to understand proper positioning for breastfeeding?
Feeding should be a comfortable experience for both parent and baby.
"The feeding parent is going to spend a significant amount of time in breastfeeding positions, and any positions that put consistent strain on the parent’s body can result in pain or injury," Rosenthal says. "Additionally, the baby should be comfortable and supported, allowing them to relax into feeding and transfer milk effectively."
Rosenthal reiterates the importance of understanding that favorite feeding positions may change over time.
"What worked for a newborn may change as baby starts to get bigger and heavier, and more experienced at breastfeeding," she says. "Be open to experimenting and trying new feeding positions."