Breastfeeding Positions & Latch

Signs of a Good Latch-On

  1. Baby’s body is facing the mother so that he doesn’t have to turn his head
  2. Baby takes the breast deeply, not just the nipple, into his mouth
  3. Baby’s chin is pressed into the breast, and his nose may be lightly resting on the breast
  4. Baby’s tongue is cupped beneath the mother’s breast

Useful tip: To ensure baby receives the right balance of watery foremilk and high-calorie hindmilk, allow baby to finish the first breast before offering the other breast.

Common Breastfeeding Positions

3 Basic Rules:

  • Bring baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby
  • A good nursing pillow helps you and baby to be well-supported and comfortable so that you can hold baby close to your breast and relax without any muscle straining
  • Experiment with different positions as your baby changes and grows, so that you can choose the one that works best for you and baby

Cradle Hold

Mother sits up, baby’s head is resting on your forearm and he is on his side facing you, pulled in close.

Useful tip:

  • Baby may tend to gulp and choke more easily if you have a forceful let-down or baby has low muscle tone. If this is a problem, you can try positioning baby in the following ways so that his neck and throat are higher than your nipple:
    1. Add extra pillow under baby and lean back slightly so that your breast is angled upward.
    2. Lean back in a rocking chair with your feet on a pillow or stool, and your knees drawn up.
    3. Lie on your side with a folded towel under baby so that his face is angled slightly downward towards your nipple.


Mother and baby lie on your sides facing each other, with baby’s knees pulled in close.

This position allows you to rest or sleep while baby nurses, giving you more energy to care for baby. It is comfortable for cesarean mothers because it puts no pressure on mother’s incision.

Useful tip:

  • To keep baby on his side facing you, you may wish to prop a folded towel or small pillow behind his back.
  • You can offer both breasts when lying on one side or roll over on your other side while baby rests on your chest.

Cross-Cradle Hold

Hold baby with the arm opposite the breast at which he will feed. Support baby at breast height with his body wrapped around yours. With the hand holding your baby, position your palm on baby’s upper back, supporting baby’s head with thumb behind the upper ear and the other fingers supporting the cheek next to the lower ear. Once baby is latched-on well, you can shift into a cradle hold by bringing your opposite arm under baby’s head, if that is more comfortable for you.

This position is useful for babies who have difficulty latching on, as well as premies and babies with low muscle tone, a weak rooting reflex, or a weak suck. The extra head support can help them to stay on the breasts.

Useful tip:

  • Use your same-side hand to support the breast, i.e. your left hand if you will be nursing on your left breast, and use the “U-hold” so that your elbow is comfortably by your side rather than up in the air. This hold shapes the breast in a way that makes latch on easier for baby.
  • Avoid pushing on the back of baby’s head, as most babies react by arching back when their heads are pushed into the breast.

Football Hold

Mother sits up, baby’s head faces the breast with his body tucked under your arm at your side. Baby’s bottom rests on a pillow near your elbow.

This position offers you a clearer view of your baby and better control of baby’s head. It is helpful for mothers with large breasts or has had a cesarean birth.

Useful tip:

  • Do NOT position baby too far forward, such that he has to bend his neck to latch on and/or you have to lean forward, both of which are uncomfortable.

Less Common Positions

Upright Football Hold is useful if the mother has a very active let-down (milk ejection) reflex. Baby may find it easier to cope with the fast milk flow if he is more upright. Alternatively, you may try leaning back or lying down as gravity slows the milk flow.

Hands and knees offer an unusual angle for the mother with a persistent plugged duct or for nursing twins. Raise yourself on your hands and knees above your baby, who lies flat on his back elevated by pillows to breast height.



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