Is That a Football or a Baby? Common Breastfeeding Holds

You have just had your beautiful baby and have chosen to feed them your specially designed “liquid gold” breastmilk. This amazing substance has been tailored to all your new baby’s needs.  There are several ways to hold your baby to help them adequately feed.  Here are just a few.

Laid Back or Biological Hold

Laid back or biological hold is a great position that allows mom to lay semi-reclined, in a chair or bed, with adequate support for their back, neck, and head.   This is a very natural position for the baby.  It uses gravity to help them with a wide-open latch.  The idea is that the baby is on top of you vs. in front. You are fully supported in this position, your arms are free to cuddle, or support your baby without the discomfort or fatigue that can be associated with other breastfeeding holds.

Cross-Cradle Hold

The cross-cradle works well for nursing preemies, newborns, and babies that have trouble getting latched on. This position makes it easier to see your nipple and your baby’s mouth. Plus, since you are holding your baby’s head, you have more control to guide your baby into a good position. Gently place your hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so that your tummies are touching. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich.

Football Hold

Next there is the football hold. Also called the clutch hold, the football position is the perfect choice for nursing twins. It is also a good position for breastfeeding after a C -section since the baby does not lay across your abdomen.  Moms with large breasts and those with flat or inverted nipples may prefer to use this hold, too. This is another position that offers a good view of your baby’s mouth and your nipples. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support baby’s back and legs under your right arm. Hold the base of your baby’s head gently with your right palm. A pillow or boppy underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.  For the left breast follow the same as above but on the left side. This is great when you’re tired and want to nurse while lying down. It’s a very natural choice for nighttime feedings, and it’s also helpful for moms who have had a c-section.

Side Lying Hold 

The side lying hold is really good when you’re tired and want to nurse while lying down.  It can also take pressure off of your healing bottom. Both you and your baby lie on your sides facing each other. You can use pillows behind your back and behind or between your knees to help get comfortable. Align your baby’s mouth with your nipple until they get a wide-open mouth and allow to latch.

Koala-Hold (Straddle-Hold

Koala-hold (straddle-hold) is a great hold for moms that have a strong let down and find baby is choking/coughing some during a feed. You can also use this position with a newborn if you give your baby plenty of support. To do koala-hold:  You will have your baby straddle your thigh. Their back and head should be upright while breastfeeding.

You should choose a few of these positions that you both like and change throughout the day to help with nipple soreness.  Always get yourself in a comfortable position as well.  Now relax and enjoy your baby.

Dana Gillman, IBCLC