Breastfeeding is usually most comfortable when a baby is able to get a big mouthful of breast tissue as well as the nipple (a deep latch). If a baby is attached to the breast with mostly just nipple in his mouth (a shallow latch), this is more likely to lead to sore nipples, a drop in milk supply, a hungry baby and possibly cause a premature end to breastfeeding altogether. The way a baby is held to the breast affects how easily they can latch and how easily they can breastfeed.
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.
#1 Positions for breastfeeding
There are many ways to hold your baby to breastfeed and these are described in Breastfeeding Positions for Newborns. Popular positions are known as:
- cradle hold
- cross-cradle hold
- clutch/rugby/football hold
- side-lying position
- breastfeeding in a reclining or semi-upright position.
Our first video Positions for Breastfeeding, by Global Health Media shows a variety of positions including reclining, cross cradle, cradle hold, underarm hold, side lying, and how to position twins. The video shows some general tips for successful breastfeeding in whatever position you prefer to use. 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. In the next short video, lactation consultant and breastfeeding author Nancy Mohrbacher explains how natural or reclining 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 a reclining position 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.
#2 Attaching your baby to the breast
The next video by Global Health Media explains the difference between a shallow and a deep latch. In a deep latch a baby has plenty of breast tissue as well as the nipple in their mouth so the nipple is deep in a baby’s mouth where it won’t be pinched by the baby’s tongue during breastfeeding. This 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.
#3 Breastfeeding with larger breasts or heavy breasts
In some positions 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. One of the helpers explains how stimulating pressure points on the baby’s knees, feet and ribs can trigger a deeper latch.
#4 Good milk transfer
The following clip from Canadian paediatrician and breastfeeding expert Dr Jack Newman shows an example of a baby who is latched well with good milk transfer. The mother is using cross-cradle hold. Note that Dr Newman keeps moving baby’s hand for the camera but bear in mind babies need to use their hands and interfering with them as a general rule could affect their latch. 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. Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt and if you are struggling with breastfeeding, the sooner you can get help the better. There are lots of useful articles and videos available online to help you and contacting a breastfeeding specialist can be invaluable if you are struggling with breastfeeding.