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Breastfeeding positions – How to breastfeed your baby

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Breastfeeding can be very pleasant and relaxing. It can be used for well-deserved breaks, which can be used for a pleasant nap. Or for moments when you can read a book undisturbed (or on your mobile phone). Or simply be a moment where you can enjoy togetherness with your little darling in silence (here is beautiful word play in german language, where breastfeeding is translated as „stillen“ and „Stille“ means silence).

And then there are those moments when the practical use of breastfeeding becomes very clear, especially when you’re on the move and don’t have to carry anything except a few nappies, moist towels and your baby, or a large diaper bag. No matter where you are, when your baby gets hungry, you have the milk at the right temperature. Here you can breastfeed anywhere and even while walking in the baby sling.

But you don’t have to worry about it, because you will intuitively find a suitable and comfortable position where you can breastfeed your darling. You will find your favourite positions during the breastfeeding period, probably even several depending on the circumstances. And you’ll probably change them over and over again, breastfeeding while lying down at night, breastfeeding in a sling on the way and sitting at home.

In this article I would like to give you an overview of the different breastfeeding positions that are possible as a suggestion.

1 – Breastfeeding in a lying position

Many mothers like to breastfeed laterally in a lying position. The advantage of breastfeeding while lying down is the wonderful chance of a restful nap during breastfeeding. Believe me, especially at the beginning you will often be tired and breastfeeding has a soporific effect. Even at night, breastfeeding while lying down is a blessing, as it is the best way to get enough sleep.

In the first months of life, it is easiest if your baby sleeps with you in the family bed or in the extra bed. This way you can continue sleeping almost unnoticed while your baby wakes up to breastfeed and docks.

This is how it’s done

You will definitely need a comfortable pillow for you and a blanket that is ready to hand. It can be helpful if you position your baby in a way V to you. So that it is not parallel to you, but with its lower body closer to yours. This way your baby’s nose will be free and you don’t have to keep your breast away from your nose all the time.

2 – Breastfeeding over your head

It can happen that a milk congestion forms in the upper part of the breast and even normal breastfeeding does not help to eliminate it. The best tip in this case is to breastfeed overhead.

This is how it’s done

The best way to do this is to lie on your back or to the side and put your baby feet up. As if it were upside down.  Your baby is lying next to you and his body and feet are leading past your head.

If you are lying on your back, it is very helpful when a second person, your husband or midwife, is holding your baby. His body will pass your body again. In this way your baby sucks with the side of his stronger lower jaw at the point of the milk jam. This way the milk jam can easily be released.

In general, you can always place your baby’s lower jaw in such a way that it is positioned at the point on the chest where the milk accumulates a little.

3 – Breastfeeding in a sitting position

At first, find a comfortable place on your couch or in your bed, with a nice thick pillow as backrest. A breastfeeding pillow is perfect for sitting. You really don’t need a lot of baby accessories, but a good nursing pillow can be worth its weight in gold. This way you can position your baby comfortably on the nursing pillow and don’t have to hold it all the time, which can lead to cramps and prevent you from taking a spontaneous nap.

There are several positions for breastfeeding in a sitting position, breastfeeding in a cradle position, breastfeeding in a leaning back position and breastfeeding in football position.

Breastfeeding in a cradle posture

Breastfeeding in a cradle posture is probably the most common and well-known breastfeeding position that can be observed. On the one hand, it is really very pleasant. But it may also be due to the fact that a mommy sits down in public or in a crawling group to breastfeed rather than to lie down.

It is also very easy to cover the breast in this position. For the environment, it’s hard to tell whether you’re a mother holding your baby in your arms or breastfeeding it.

This is how it’s done

You hold or support your baby’s body with your forearm, his head rests in the crook of your arm. The belly of your baby nestles against your belly. Don’t try to pull your shoulders up, otherwise they will tense up and you may get neck pain. It is best to put your baby and your arms down somewhere. A nursing pillow is a great choice.

In the classic cradle position, you hold your baby in the arm on the side of the body where you are laying your baby against your breast. It is important that you hold your baby’s lower arm behind your back as if it were hugging you.

Do not place the lower arm under your baby’s body, or between you, because this would keep your baby’s weight on his arm all the time while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in the footballer position

In this position, your baby is perfectly supported and you can bring him close to your breast. This breastfeeding position is particularly suitable if the correct positioning does not work so well in the beginning, if your baby has difficulties sucking because it is perhaps still too weak or if you have had a caesarean section.

If you have had a difficult start or your baby is premature and breastfeeding in other positions doesn’t really work, you should try the back posture. Because in this position it is very easy for your baby to get the breast right in his mouth and suck it in the beginning. This is where gravity works for you and helps your baby to grasp the burst almost automatically.

This is how it works

You hold your baby on the side of your body between your arm and your body on the side where you are about to breastfeed. Imagine a soccer player pinching a ball to the side between your arm and body. If possible, you should be able to lean against it. At the same time, your backrest serves as a boundary for your favourite’s legs, so that they don’t slip out of position and you don’t have to keep them active.

Your baby’s head is in your hand, at first you can let his body rest on the inside of your forearm. You will definitely need one or two larger pillows or a nursing pillow so that you can place your arm and your baby on them.

Laid Back Nursing

This is the most natural nursing position and supports intensive bonding between you and your baby after birth. It is said that style problems are completely avoided if you use this position from the beginning. This is because your baby can actively take the lead and experience its first self-efficacy through this own, active commitment.

This is how it’s work

Lie on your back with your upper body slightly raised. You can put a nursing pillow under your shoulders and head, perhaps you can also raise your slatted frame a little. Your baby will lie on your belly, his head about the height of your chest. You can support your baby a little to help him, give his feet a little support, otherwise you don’t need to hold him.

You also don’t need to put it on, you can – if necessary – support your breast a little to make your nipple easily accessible, your baby will actively search for your breast in this position and pick it up intuitively and correctly.

Cross handle breastfeeding

This breastfeeding position is a slightly modified form of the classic cradle position. You can better support your baby in the cross handle, which makes it easier to put on the baby correctly.

This is how it works

The body of your baby rests on your forearm, its head lies in your hand. Exactly the other way round than with the cradle handle, where the head lies in your arm ball. So you have your baby safely under control and can put it on correctly.

Breastfeeding in the „Hoppe Reiter Sitz“

If your little darling is no longer a little baby, but is already beginning to crawl, sit or walk, you can also breastfeed it well in the Hoppe Reiter Sitz.

This is how it’s done

Your little one sits on one of your thighs facing you, the legs left and right to your thigh. You sit upright or leaned against a backrest. Usually the children are a bit older now, so that they can sit upright and alone. If necessary, you support your child’s back with your arm or hand. It usually nestles against you when breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in the rocking chair

Many mothers also like to breastfeed in the rocking chair. Especially in combination this can be very pleasant. The constant rocking can calm particularly restless babies and make breastfeeding possible in the first place.

You may not believe it – or you may be facing this problem yourself, but there are babies and there are times when breastfeeding is almost impossible because the baby cannot calm down. This can make a mother very insecure and desperate. The baby is hungry, but as soon as you put it on, it cries and screams bitterly. The reasons are explained in more detail in the article on breastfeeding problems.

Anyway, in such moments a rocking chair or alternatively a pezziball can be worth gold. The constant rocking or jumping up and down calms the baby and can pass into quiet breastfeeding.

Armchair for breastfeeding

For a while I preferred to breastfeed sitting in a comfortable armchair. He had such beautiful wide armrests and had exactly the perfect size that I could snuggle myself up in the armchair and have a nap with my baby. The armchair was also ideal for being able to read while breastfeeding. So if you have a beautiful armchair at home, it is definitely worth a try to breastfeed in the armchair.

Breastfeeding and Carrying

If you carry or want to carry your baby much in a sling or a carrying aid, then you might wonder whether breastfeeding and carrying are possible at the same time without having to take your baby off. Be told, yes it is possible, and it can be incredibly practical. Especially if, for example, you actually need to suck more, but your baby is hungry and wants to be breastfed. But for that some practice is necessary.

This is how it works

You have to loosen the sling or the carrying aid a little if your baby does not have his heads at your breast height. In the beginning, you can also sit down first to breastfeed your baby in the sling.

Whether breastfeeding in the sling, breastfeeding in the ring sling, breastfeeding in the carrying aid or in the wrap cross sling, the principle is the same for all carrying variants. If your baby’s head is not at your breast height, you need to loosen the carrying aids a little and lower the baby a little. Then you can tighten the sling or sling again to still give your baby a good hold without it collapsing.

The easiest way I actually felt this was with a ring sling or a Mei Tai carrying aid, such as the Fidella Fly Tai, the Storchenwiege Babycarrier or the Limas carrying aid.

Breastfeeding with a nursing pillow

The nursing pillow is the classic newborn aid that almost every mother rightly possesses. If you don’t have one yet, then I can only recommend covering you with a pillow. Even during pregnancy, a nursing pillow can be incredibly helpful.

Especially during the last weeks of pregnancy, it can be very difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep in. You can use the nursing pillow wonderfully as a back or abdominal support if you lie on your side.

After the birth it is not only wonderfully suitable as a supportive aid for breastfeeding. You can also place a breastfeeding pillow on the edge of the bed or coach so that your little newborn cannot tumble down. You can also compress the pillow and place your baby in this hollow. So it lies a little upright and feels a limitation from all sides, this can be very helpful especially with stomach ache or restlessness.

Breastfeeding in the public

The practical thing about breastfeeding is the constant availability of the food without having to bring hot water, bottles and milk with you. So it would be quite paradoxical not to make use of this enormous advantage.

You don’t need to be persuaded or made insecure that breastfeeding is inappropriate in public places.

But if a restaurant owner or other guests want to refer you to the toilet, because that’s not the right thing to do, just ask them if they would like to eat on a toilet.

Of course you can put on a towel, a gauze cloth or a special nursing stole to cover your chest if you are uncomfortable with public exposure. This is something you should decide for yourself and for your own well-being. Especially in winter it is better if you make use of it, simply not to catch cold and get sick. For breastfeeding on the go and in public, the classic cradle posture is the best choice.

I hope this article was helpful for you. Feel free to leave a comment about your favourite breastfeeding position or your difficulties you had breastfeeding your baby.

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Linda Barbara

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