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Popular Breastfeeding Positions: Cradle, Football, Side-Lying, and Saddle

Updated on February 14, 2008
Photo: RaphaelGoetter, Flickr
Photo: RaphaelGoetter, Flickr

Tips For Successful Breastfeeding

  • Pillows are your friend. You can never have too many to use as support for yourself and your baby.
  • Keep something to drink nearby. It seems hokey, but you really do need to re-hydrate as you nurse.
  • Keep track of which breast your baby last nursed on. You'll want to keep usage relatively even.


You'd think we'd be hard-wired to know how to breastfeed our new babies. Some of us may be, but if you haven't a clue what you're supposed to do, you're not alone. Follow these tips to get started right.

For some women, to say that the first few weeks of breastfeeding are a challenge is like saying it labor hurts a little. Breastfeeding is a skill that can be learned like anything else, but don't let anyone make you feel like you're supposed to know how to do it without some instruction. Like learning to play a musical instrument, you can read up and talk to your mother and your girlfriends all you want, but you'll never really get it until you do it.

Cradle Hold - This is the classic positioin that you probably used with your dolls or your pets as a child. Put the baby on your forearm with her head in the crook of your arm. Very young babies' bottoms can be supported with the hand of the same arm. Using pillows (the Boppy is perfect for this) can ease back and arm strain to make you more comfortable. Pull the baby in close, belly to belly.

Football Hold

This position amy seem ackward at first, but many women find it very effective. It may be particularly comforatable for mothers who have had a Cesarean section. Place your baby on a pillow at your side with her head facing toward your breast. Think of how you hold a football, close and tight. Again, propping the baby into place with pillow can work well. Use either hand to guide the baby's mouth to your breast. Then use your hand or a pillow to support her head.

Side Lying

Lying on your side is the perfect position for those late night feedings. While lying on your side, pull your baby in close, get her to latch on. Using a pillow behind baby's back to keep her from rolling onto her back will free up your arm and let you relax, and even go back to sleep. If you've had a Cesarean section, keep a pillow between your belly and baby's feet!

Saddle Position

For this method the baby faces your breast, while you support her with one or two arms. It's a good option for older babies who are able to hold up their own heads. The other support option is to use a front loading carrier and position the baby just right on the breast. It's also a good option for a baby with a runny nose or ear infection. While it's probably the least used of the popular positions, the saddle hold could come in handy.


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