The way a baby is held to the breast affects how easily they can breastfeed. Certain positions can make it difficult for a baby to get a deep latch i.e. a big mouthful of breast tissue as well as the nipple. If a baby is in a shallow latch with mostly just nipple in his mouth, this is likely to lead to sore nipples, a drop in milk supply, a hungry baby and possibly cause a premature end to breastfeeding altogether.
This article shares a selection of breastfeeding videos that show helpful breastfeeding positions, the principles of a good latch, how to tell if a baby is drinking plenty of breast milk and more. Breastfeeding Videos is a companion article to Breastfeeding Positions for Newborns and Latching Tips.
There are many ways to hold your baby to breastfeed and these are described in Breastfeeding Positions for Newborns. The most popular positions are known as:
- cradle hold
- cross-cradle hold
- clutch/rugby/football hold
- side-lying position
- breastfeeding in a reclining semi-upright position.
Global Health Media
Our first video Positions for Breastfeeding, by Global Health Media shows a variety of positions including how to position twins. Global Health Media’s breastfeeding video collection is excellent and is available in English, Spanish, French, Swahili, Nepali, Lao, Malay, Khmer, Kinyarwanda and Vietnamese.
Reclining positions for breastfeeding
Reclining or natural breastfeeding positions are also sometimes called “laid-back” or biological nurturing positions. Reclining positions involve lying back slightly, preferably with baby skin-to-skin (or lightly dressed) with baby’s tummy against mother’s chest. In this position the mother’s body supports her baby rather than taking the baby’s weight with her arms. This position triggers a baby’s natural feeding reflexes and helps him to take a good mouthful of breast while feeling very stable on the mother’s body.
The next clip from biologicalnurturing.com demonstrates a mother holding her baby in a semi-reclining position. The clip describes how to spot early feeding cues and shows baby feeding comfortably on his tummy (in the “prone” position):
Why Skin to Skin? also has a collection of videos of babies latching just after birth with the mothers in reclining positions. And in the next short video lactation consultant and breastfeeding author Nancy Mohrbacher explains how natural, laid-back, breastfeeding positions, can really help a baby to latch deeply and comfortably without arm waving and fighting at the breast.
Find the right position for you and your baby
While some mothers find laid-back positions can fix a painful latch or stop their baby struggling at the breast, for others it does not feel right at all. Well supported cross-cradle and rugby holds may give more control for your latch. Your own body position is important too, if your arms tire during a feeding your baby may not remain level with the breast and may slip down and exert more pressure on the nipple or slide down to the nipple base causing pain or damage.
Getting a deep latch
The next video by Global Health Media explains the difference between a shallow and a deep latch. A deep latch is one where the baby takes a good mouthful of breast tissue as well as the nipple. The nipple will be deep in a baby’s mouth so that the nipple isn’t getting rubbed on baby’s hard palate. The video shows babies latching to the breast in a variety of positions, and discusses how to recognise a good latch. See Latching Tips on this website for photographs and more videos that describe how to achieve a comfortable latch.
Breastfeeding with larger breasts or heavy breasts
A heavy breast may need to be supported during a feed as the weight of it may tend to pull from baby’s mouth causing your baby to lose their grip. Biological nursing positions and rugby hold may help with this or the cross-cradle position can give good control as you have a hand free to shape and support the breast. Sometimes you may need to support the breast throughout the feed to prevent baby slipping off. See Breastfeeding With Large Breasts for much more information including images of mothers supporting their breasts during a breastfeed.
In the following video clip by Nancy Mohrbacher, a larger breasted mother shares how reclining positions work well for her and her baby. And a helper explains how stimulating pressure points on the baby’s knees, feet and ribs can trigger a deeper latch.
Good milk transfer
The following clip from Canadian paediatrician and breastfeeding expert Dr Jack Newman shows an example of good latch and milk transfer. The mother is using cross-cradle hold. Dr Newman describes how to see the pause in a baby’s suck as they swallow milk. For more ways to tell if a baby is getting plenty of milk see Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
If breastfeeding hurts
Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt and pain indicates something is wrong. If you are finding breastfeeding painful or experiencing any problems, the best way to get your baby’s latch checked is by an IBCLC lactation consultant as they will be able to check that your baby is transferring breast milk well, take a full history and talk to you about breastfeeding management for you and your baby. For further ideas see Latching Tips, Breastfeeding Tips and Why Does Breastfeeding Hurt?
The way you position your baby to breastfeed affects how well they can latch, and latch affects how well a baby can drain the breasts to drive a milk supply. A poor latch will also usually be painful for the mother. There are lots of resources available to help with positioning and good videos can be particularly helpful. If you are experiencing problems however, there is no substitute for face-to-face help from a breastfeeding specialist.