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Black woman breastfeeding her baby


Some moms find that the following positions are helpful ways to get comfortable and support their babies while breastfeeding. You can also use pillows under your arms, elbows, neck, or back to give you added comfort and support.

Keep trying different positions until you and your baby are comfortable. What works for one feeding may not work for the next feeding.

Cradle Hold

An easy, common hold that is comfortable for most mothers and babies. 

Step 1: Hold your baby with their head on your forearm and his or her body facing yours.

Cross-cradle or Transitional hold

Useful for premature babies or babies with a weak suck because this hold gives extra head support and may help the baby stay latched. 

Step 1: Hold your baby along the area opposite from the breast you are using.

Step 2: Support your baby's head at the base of their neck with the palm of your hand.

Cradle & Cross Cradle

Clutch or "Football" Hold

Useful if you had a C-section, or if you have larger breasts, flat or inverted nipples, or a strong let-down reflex*. This hold is also helpful for babies who like to be in a more upright position when they feed.

Step 1: Hold your baby at your side with the baby lying on their back and with their head at the level of your nipple.

Step 2: Place your palm of your hand at the base of your baby’s head for support

Side-lying Position

Useful if you had a C-section and also allows you to rest while the baby breastfeeds. 

Step 1: Lie on your side with your baby facing you. 

Step 2: Pull your baby close so your baby faces your body.” 

Clutch & Side-lying

Laid-back Hold (Straddle Hold)

A more relaxed, baby-led approach. 

Step 1: Lie back on a pillow. 

Step2 : Lay your baby against your body with your baby's head just above and between your breasts. 

Gravity and an instinct to nurse will guide your baby to your breast. As your baby searches for your breast, support your baby's head and shoulders but don't force the latch.

Baby-led Latching

Laid-back & Baby-led
Baby breastfeeding from mother's breast


  • When your baby latches onto your breast it should be comfortable. Their latch should not cause any pain or discomfort.

  • Your baby’s chest should rest against your body.

  • Your baby does not have to turn their head while drinking.

  • While your baby is latched, you may see minimal or no areola (the darker skin around your nipple). This is dependent on the size of your areola and baby’s mouth.​​​

  • When your baby is latched properly, their mouth will be filled with your breast. 

  • You will be able to see and hear your baby swallow. If your baby swallows more quietly, you can pay attention to their breathing pattern such as a pause in their breathing.

  • While breastfeeding, your baby’s ears “wiggle” slightly.

  • With a proper latch, your baby’s lips will turn outward, not inward and your baby’s chin may touch your breast.

Signs of a good latch

The following steps can help your baby latch on to your breast successfully:

  • Allow your baby to search for your breast. This step takes the pressure off of yourself and your newborn and prevents feeding aversions. This approach is known as baby-led breastfeeding, biological nurturing, or laid-back breastfeeding. Baby-led breastfeeding allows your baby to breastfeed in a more relaxed way. 

  • Create a calm environment. Before breastfeeding, set the mood by using pillows or other comfort items to ensure you and your baby are comfortable and relaxed. 

  • Hold your baby skin to skin. Hold your baby up to your bare skin while they’re only in a diaper. Place yourself in the right mindset for breastfeeding by connecting with your baby and not thinking about the pressures of breastfeeding. 

  • Let your baby lead. Your baby will show signs that they are hungry by bobbing their head against you, making eye contact, and moving around.  One way to know your baby is not hungry when they stay curled up against your chest. Every baby is different, learn your baby’s unique hunger cues.

Keep in mind that there is no one way to start breastfeeding. As long as the baby is latched on well, how you get there is up to you.

  • Support your baby before latching. Support your baby’s head and shoulders as they search for your breast. Avoid forcing the latch by pushing and leading your baby to your breast.

  • Allow your breast to hang naturally. When your baby’s chin meets your breast, the pressure of your breast causes them to open their mouth in preparation for breastfeeding. With the pressure from the breast on your baby’s chin, they should get a deep latch onto your breast. Keep in mind that your baby can breathe at the breast. The nostrils flare to allow air in.

  • If your baby still has trouble latching with the baby-led approach, try these tips:

    • Pull your baby close so that the baby’s chin and lower jaw moves into your breast.

    • Tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage him or her to open their mouth.

Steps for successful latching
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