Breastfeeding Positions – PROS & CONS

Let’s explore breastfeeding positions! Now really, there are an endless amount of ways you can feed your baby… but here are some of the most common positions, pros & cons of each, and a few extra tips too!

At the end, we’ll take a look at some “not so common” positions as well! Because… #momlife

Cradle and Cross Cradle

The classic Cradle position is the most common position! It’s probably the one you think of when you picture someone breastfeeding. There is another very similar position, which is far underutilized, called Cross Cradle. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each!

Cradle

This position is great for big babies or well-established breastfeeders!

PROS

  • Easy and comfortable
  • Easy to remain modest

CONS

  • Difficult to correctly position a newborn
  • Offers very little head control

This is a great position, but if you have a newborn or are still learning to breastfeed comfortably and easily, consider using the Cross Cradle position.

Cross Cradle

At first glance, this may look very similar to the classic Cradle position, but if you’ll notice the baby’s head is not cradled in the nook of the mother’s elbow. Instead, the opposite arm is used to support the infant’s body with a V shape in the hand across the baby’s neck and lower head. This offers great support for the infant and the mother can easily move the baby in close to the breast. The opposite free hand can be used to position the breast as needed, making this ideal for newborns and breastfeeding learners.

My baby here is a bit too big for this position, but you get the idea!

PROS

  • Easy head and body control
  • Naturally encourages a well positioned latch
  • Easy to remain modest
  • Free hand is available to hold breast or assist baby if needed

CONS

  • Difficult with bigger babies
  • Doesn’t feel as natural at first as cradle position

“Football” or “Rugby” Hold

I used to always call this football hold, but after living in Europe for a bit I realized that’s not always accurate! So call it what you want, but this breastfeeding position has some great benefits. It does get a little trickier as your baby gets bigger (as you can see in these photos of my 8-month-old!), but let’s look at why you might want to give this position a try!

PROS

  • Offers great visualization for the mother
  • Ideal for c-section moms since the baby is not laid across the body
  • Great for mothers with large breasts

CONS

  • Takes some practice
  • Difficult for large babies and toddlers

Side-lying Position

I WISH someone had told me about this position sooner as a first-time mom because, by the 3rd baby, I’ve learned this is by far THE BEST position *in my opinion 😉

You can do this one two ways, with the baby laying on your arm, or curled around the baby. It’s best on a flat surface and of course, use with caution while sleeping. This is a wonderful way to get some “rest” while feeding the baby!

PROS
Easy!
Restful and easy to sleep if desired
Can be used at any age (newborns, babies, toddlers)
Good position for a forceful letdown

CONS
Use caution of the surface you’re on if you fall asleep. Follow Safe Sleep Guidelines!
More difficult with very large breasts (but can be done!)
May leave a wet milk spot from side mouth dribbles 😉

Laid-back Nursing

This breastfeeding position is also called “biological nurturing”. This is often the first position that new mothers try! If the baby is born and placed on the mother’s chest, this position comes very naturally! If you want some more info on the first feeding, check out the “breast crawl”

Laid-back nursing can be very relaxing and doesn’t have to be only for the first feeding! In fact, you can nurse in this position with a baby at almost any age. Try it in your favorite chair, on the couch, in bed, anywhere you can lay and relax!

PROS

  • Easy and natural
  • Give baby total freedom
  • Great for fast letdown as gravity can help slow the flow
  • Can be used with a baby at any age

CONS

  • Difficult in public
  • Mother needs room to lay or recline

Less Common (but still real) Breastfeeding Positions

Ok, let’s get real. Here are some other positions you might find yourself familiar with once breastfeeding is well underway.

Dangle Feeding

This position may look awkward and it’s definitely not one used on a daily basis, but there are some great times when this can be ideal! Moms like to use this position a lot when they have a clogged milk duct or are struggling with mastitis. This really helps utilize gravity to loosen up and release any stuck milk.

It can also be used to “dream feed” a baby which is where you feed the baby while they’re sleeping! I’ve also adapted this position to use to feed a baby in a car seat (not in a moving car of course) when it was just the most convenient or necessary option at the time!

As you can see below, either with the baby facing you OR away from you is great, it’s up to you!

In a carrier

This breastfeeding position definitely takes some practice, but wearing your baby whether it’s a sling, moby wrap, woven shall, buckle carrier, or anything in between, is an awesome way to get around! So if you can learn to breastfeed while babywearing, it’s really a win-win.

PROS: Convenient, discreet, mobile

CONS: Steep learning curve, varies depending on the wrap style

TIPS: Just try! And keep trying. This takes practice. Start by loosening the straps and wiggle your baby down into position. Then access the breast and begin feeding. After feeding, hold your baby back in the ideal spot and retighten the wrap.

Toddler Nursing

My baby isn’t quite a toddler in this photo, but he still likes to nurse in the craziness positions! This becomes common as your baby gets bigger and more wiggly. Once breastfeeding is well established, it is easier to adapt to whatever is easiest at the time.

If you have a fun photo of your baby doing something unique while breastfeeding, post it on Instagram and tag me @newlittlelifebyallison! I’d love to see!

PROS

  • Easy – breastfeeding is usually well established by now
  • Carefree – Anything goes! It’s alot of fun

CONS

  • Potentially uncomfortable and/or awkward sometimes

During Yoga

This isn’t for everyone, but every few weeks I see a post on social media of a baby who capitalized on an opportunity for a snack while the breasts were close by! Babies are smarter than you think…

He popped off for the photo but he was quick to find a snack!

Actually, I did a really fun video where I PUMPED while doing yoga! If you want to check that out you can watch it here.

Pumping

This may seem weird on a breastfeeding positions list, but it’s such a reality for many moms that I think it needs to be included.

The PROS and CONS of pumping may need to be its own post! There’s a lot to unpack here… but if you want a quick video, check out this one!

If you want to pump in ANY POSITION, the Willow Breast Pump is your best best. You can watch several videos about it by clicking here.

Multitasking

In reality, ANY position is a valid breastfeeding position! Moms are notorious for creatively feeding their babies as needed. Mom life comes with so many unique challenges, and moms are out there making it work!

If you have a unique breastfeeding position, post it on Instagram and tag @newlittlelifebyallison! I’d love to see it!

Happy Breastfeeding!

Posted in