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4 Breastfeeding Positions for New Moms

One of the biggest things most new moms get to learn is how to breastfeed. It looks easy and natural–and it is natural, and easy once you get the hang of it! But there is a learning curve, and it takes some moms and babies longer to learn than others. One important thing to know is that there are multiple breastfeeding positions that can be used, and each has its own benefits.

4 breastfeeding positions for new moms

4 Breastfeeding Positions for New Moms

The Football Hold

This is probably one of the first breastfeeding positions your nurses or lactation consultants will teach you, because it enables mama to clearly see what’s going on, and it is also particularly helpful if you’ve had a C-section because it reduces pressure on your abdomen.

The football hold involves holding baby tucked under your arm with his feet toward your back, and he’ll approach your breast from the side and somewhat from underneath. The difficulty with this position is that it requires a few pillows behind your back and another under your arm.

The Cross-Cradle Hold

This option for breastfeeding positions is probably the most commonly used. It’s the one you likely see most often in pictures of mothers breastfeeding. In this position, you hold your baby cradled in both arms in front of you, and they’ll approach your breast from the front.

For moms who are still getting the hang of breastfeeding, a pillow on your lap is helpful with the cross-cradle hold, in order to help hold the baby at the ideal level so your arm doesn’t tire so quickly. As you increase in skill you won’t necessarily need the pillow. My four-month-old is big enough now that he sits in my lap and I support him with usually just one arm supporting his back and head.

A variation to the cross-cradle hold is to hold your baby in the opposite arm to the side you’re nursing on (so, if you’re nursing on the right side you’ll hold baby in your left arm), with their head in your hand. With this breastfeeding position you can use your free arm to hold your breast and direct it toward baby’s mouth. This was how I nursed for the first few weeks and it was so helpful for me, especially since my baby had trouble latching on for a while.

Reclining Position

This might be the very first “position” you try when you hold your baby for the first time. As you’re leaning back in bed, place baby on your chest face-down (ideally skin-to-skin) and let baby root his or her way to your breast. Help baby scoot up your chest if necessary. Let baby latch on by lowering his mouth onto your breast.

This position has several benefits for both mom and baby. It takes advantage of gravity, using the weight of baby’s head to help get a deep latch, which helps lessen discomfort for mama. It also makes use of baby’s instinct to root and “crawl” to the breast. Finally, this breastfeeding position is relaxing for mama and often lets her nurse just one-handed, even in the first few days after the baby’s birth.

Reclining is easy in a hospital bed. At home, sit in a recliner if you have one, or sit lengthwise on a couch with pillows behind you or in bed with pillows propping you up.

Nursing Lying Down

This is probably my favorite position now, four months in! It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, but it makes nighttime feedings so much easier. Even if you don’t co-sleep, you can feed the baby lying down and doze while he or she eats, and then put baby back to bed.

To nurse lying down, get comfortable while lying on whichever side you want to nurse. Pull baby toward you, facing you with their face at the level of your breast. You can turn baby on their side, or if they prefer lying on their back they can just turn their head to your breast (this might be easier for babies who have at least a little head control).

Tuck a burp cloth under your breast and baby’s mouth to catch drips, and help them latch on. The arm on the side you’re lying on might get in the way, so tuck it under your head and use your other arm to help keep baby’s head in place, or just hold their hand or stroke their face while they eat. I often fall asleep while my baby nurses himself to sleep! It’s so relaxing for both of us.

To nurse on the other breast you have two options. Either lean your body over baby so you can lower the opposite breast to their mouth, or hug baby to your chest, roll to your other side, and repeat the original process on that side. I find this much easier than trying to navigate the opposite breast to my baby’s mouth, especially in the dark when I’m half-asleep!

You might want to have a small light at arm’s reach so you can see what you’re doing while you learn this breastfeeding position, but eventually you’ll be able to do it with your eyes closed–which, of course, is the general idea. 🙂


Experiment with different breastfeeding positions to find one that gives you the most ease and comfort while nursing your baby. It’s an activity that will take up quite a bit of your time, so you want to be able to relax and enjoy every minute of it!


Which of these breastfeeding positions is your favorite? If you’re an experienced nurser, which would you recommend most for new moms?


Jaimie Ramsey is a Jesus-following wife, mama and homemaker. She loves spending time with family and friends, long walks on sunny days, mugs of tea, and reading good books (when she can find the time!). Find her online at her blog, on Facebook (, and on Pinterest (

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