November 29, 2023

Breastfeeding Positions

Midwife Zoe Round

By MAM Midwife Zoe,

Zoe is a Registered Nurse and Midwife with over 10 years of post-registration experience. Zoe has worked in a variety of settings from a specialist homebirth team to a high-risk delivery suite and, most recently, at a community birth centre. Zoe is passionate about maintaining her professional development to enhance the support she provides to families in her care. She has successfully completed courses in neonatal life support, perineal surgical skills, managing acutely ill adults and has recently qualified as a hypnobirthing teacher.  

Zoe has two young daughters, Edith (3) and Dorothy ‘Dot’ (1). As a Mum, she has direct experience of water birth, home birth, breastfeeding, breastfeeding through pregnancy, tandem nursing and weaning. In her spare time, Zoe enjoys days at the beach, being outdoors on the farm and baking.  

Breastfeeding Positions: The Basics

MAM Breastfeeding Position Illustration -

There are several ways that you can hold your baby to breastfeed. With a little practise you may find that certain positions work better for you and your baby than others.

There are some things that all breastfeeding positions have in common. The position should always be comfortable for you throughout the feed. Your baby should be held close to your body, facing your breast, with their head, neck, and body in good alignment. Your baby’s nose should be opposite your nipple at the start of the feed with their head free to tilt backwards as they are brought to the breast.

Always contact your midwife, health visitor or certified breastfeeding specialist if you are struggling and need further support.   

MAM  Illustration - Cradle

Support your baby’s head in the crook of your arm with their nose in line with your nipple and their head free to tilt back. Support their back and shoulders along your forearm ensuring that their body is in alignment. Use your other hand to cradle the back of your baby, or alternatively, you may find it helpful to shape the breast to achieve the correct latch.

This position is most instinctively used by mothers, it is great when you are just learning and need a good clear view of your baby’s attachment.

MAM Breastfeeding Position Illustration - Cross Cradle

Position your fingers under your baby’s neck, so that the weight of their head is supported. Ensure that baby is free to tilt their head back between your thumb and fingers. The palm of your hand should be positioned between your baby’s shoulders, this will allow you to bring them to your breast. Use your forearm to support your baby’s back and remember to cuddle them close to you as they feed.

This is another great position when you are learning as you will have a good view of baby and your other hand can be used to support and shape the breast.

MAM Breastfeeding Position Illustration - Back Lying

Find a comfortable, laid-back position that both you and your baby feel secure in. Support baby on your breast.

This position is great following birth as it encourages skin to skin and allows baby to use their natural reflex behaviour to find the breast and feed, when ready.

MAM Breastfeeding Position Illustration - Side Lying Cradle

If you lie on your side and rest your head on a pillow, your baby can tuck in close to your body. You can guide them to your breast and support them with your free hand. Using a V-shape pillow or placing one behind you will provide you with additional support.

A thin pillow or folded towel under your rib cage will lift your body slightly and this is helpful if you have large breasts. If you have had a caesarean or need to stay in bed, breastfeeding lying down can be very relaxing and help you get more rest.

MAM Illustration - Side Lying

Lay on your side with your head supported by a pillow. Bend your legs slightly for comfort but ensure that your baby’s legs are not against your thighs. Your baby should be close to your body, laying on their side and facing you with their nose to nipple. Their head should be free to tilt back.

This position is great if you are recovering from a caesarean section or if you have painful stitches or haemorrhoids. It is also helpful if you are feeling tired and in need of rest. Remember: if you are feeling tired, always make sure the area is safe for your baby if you were to fall asleep.  

MAM Breastfeeding Illustration - Football

Using a pillow or V-shape cushion for support, lay your baby alongside your body, facing your breast with their body tucked under your arm (like a rugby ball). Support your baby’s neck and the weight of their head with your hand.

This position is great if you have larger breasts, a small or pre-term baby, or if you have had a caesarean section.            

Read on: Breastfeeding & Responsive Feeding – What Is It?