Proper positioning

Proper Positioning for Successful Breastfeeding

Proper positioning is important for effective breastfeeding, as it allows the baby to have a deep latch. Using good positioning is the best way to avoid sore nipples, and it may even help prevent engorgement. Basic principles to remember include keeping the baby at breast level, turned in toward you (chest-to-chest), with the chin and nose touching the breast.

Cradle hold

Hold the baby in the crook of your arm, close to the breast, facing you, chest-to-chest. Your baby should be up high on your chest, legs even with your other breast. 

When the baby opens his or her mouth wide, bring the baby to your breast with your forearm. Your baby should not be in your lap or turned onto his or her back, as this can cause an improper latch that will damage your nipple.

Although this may feel like the most natural way to hold your baby for breastfeeding, it may be harder to use this hold when you are just starting out, as you may not be as easily able to guide the baby onto the breast for a deep latch. Once you and your baby have some practice, this hold will become much easier.

Football or clutch hold

Tuck the baby along your side with her feet up against the back of the chair or bed, with pillows underneath the baby to bring him or her up to the level of your breast. 

Support the baby's neck with your hand, and use your forearm to support his or her upper body. Be sure to tuck the baby far enough back along your side so that you are not leaning forward over the baby; you should be sitting comfortably upright when you guide the baby to your breast. 

This is a good position to use after a c-section when you don't want the baby to touch your abdomen. It is also good if your breasts are large, or you are nursing a small or premature baby.

Cross-cradle hold

Support the baby's neck and back as in the football hold, and hold the baby across your chest to the opposite breast. Support your breast with your other hand. This position, like the football hold, gives you more control in guiding the baby to the breast for a deeper latch.


As with the cradle hold, your baby should be facing you. Lay the baby along your side and nurse from the side on which you are lying. You may need to use a pillow to bring the baby up to breast level. The side-lying position is especially good if you are uncomfortable sitting, or for nursing at night.

Updated June 6, 2016

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