Breastfeeding Holds

Breastfeeding Holds

Check out the different ways to hold your baby when you are breastfeeding.

The cradle hold

Mother breastfeeding her baby, positioned in cradle hold. Lactation consultant is looking on. This is the most natural way to hold your baby. Other holds may be easier for latching a newborn baby. 

To start, cradle your baby's head on your forearm with your baby's nose opposite your nipple. Use that hand to support your baby's bottom. Turn your baby on his or her side, so that your baby is tummy to tummy to you. Then, bring your baby to your breast.

The transitional or cross-cradle hold

The transitional or cross-cradle position allows you to have more control over how your baby latches on. Many mothers find that they are able to get their babies latched more easily with this hold.

Mother breastfeeding her baby, positioned in cross-cradle hold. Lactation consultant is looking on.

This hold is similar to the cradle hold, but your arms are positioned differently. Instead of supporting your baby's head on your forearm, use the hand of that arm to support your breast. Bring the opposite arm around the back of your baby. Support your baby's head, neck, and shoulder by placing your hand at the base of your baby's head with your thumb and index finger at your baby's ear level. Like the cradle hold, your baby will be tummy to tummy to you.

The side-lying position

Mother breastfeeding her baby, in side-lying position, on a bed. This position is comfortable for mothers who've had a caesarean section (C-section) because the baby doesn't put pressure on the mother's abdomen. This is also a great way for you to get some rest while nursing your baby.

Start by lying on your side with your baby on his or her side, facing you. Your baby should be positioned so his or her nose is opposite your nipple. Use your lower arm to cradle your baby's back, or you can tuck a rolled-up receiving blanket behind your baby to help nestle your little one close to you while you use your arm to support your own head. You can support your breast with your other hand.

The clutch or football hold

Mother breastfeeding her baby, in football hold. Lactation consultant is looking on. This is also a good position for the mother who's had a caesarean section (C-section) and also for mothers with large breasts or small babies. The football hold allows babies to take milk more easily.  This position is also good for mothers with a forceful milk ejection reflex (or let down).

To achieve the clutch (or football) hold, place a pillow next to you. Cradle your baby, facing upward, in your arm. Use the palm of your hand on that same arm to support your baby’s neck, and nestle your baby's side closely against your side. Your baby's feet and legs should be tucked under your arm. Then lift your baby to your breast.

This page last reviewed 09 June 2013.
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