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Positioning your baby for breastfeeding

Be patient with yourself as you learn to breastfeed. Know that breastfeeding takes practice. Give yourself 2 - 3 weeks to get the hang of it.

Learn how to position your baby to breastfeed. Know how to hold your baby in different positions so your nipples don’t get sore and to empty your breasts of milk.

Alternate Names

Breastfeeding positions; Bonding with your baby

Breastfeeding Positions

You will be more comfortable nursing if you know how to position your baby at your breast. Find a position that works well for you and your baby. Learn about breastfeeding.

  • Attend a breastfeeding class. 
  • Watch someone else breastfeed. 
  • Practice with an experienced nursing mother. 
  • Talk with a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant is an expert in breastfeeding. This person can teach you and your baby how to breastfeed. The consultant can help with positions and when your baby has trouble sucking.

Types of Breastfeeding Positions


This hold works best for full-term babies. Some new mothers have trouble guiding the baby’s mouth to their breast in this hold. If you have had a C-section, your baby may put too much pressure on your stomach in this hold.

Here’s is a how to do cradle hold: 

  • Sit in a comfortable chair with arm rests or a bed with pillows. 
  • Hold your baby in your lap on her side so that her face, stomach, and knees are facing you. 
  • Tuck her lower arm under your arm. 
  • If you are nursing on the right breast, hold your baby’s head in the crook of your right arm. Use your arm and hand to support her neck, back, and bottom. 
  • Keep her knees snug against your body. 
  • If your nipple hurts, see if your baby has slipped down and the knees are facing the ceiling instead of being tucked in next to your side. Adjust your baby’s position if you need to.


Use the football hold if you had a C-section. This hold is good for babies that have trouble latching on because you have a lot of control over guiding their head. Women with large breasts or flat nipples also like the football hold.

  • Hold your baby like a football. Tuck the baby under the arm on the same side you will nurse from. 
  • Hold the baby at your side, under your arm. 
  • Cradle the back of your baby's head in your hand so her nose is pointing at your nipple. Her feet and legs will be pointing back. Use your other hand to support your breast. Gently guide your baby to your nipple.


Use this position if you had a C-section or a hard delivery, making sitting up hard. You can use this position when you are lying in bed.

  • Lie on your side. 
  • Lie your baby close to you with her face at your breast. Pull the baby in snugly and place a pillow behind her back to keep her from rolling backwards.

Take Care of Your Nipples

  • You nipples naturally make a lubricant to prevent drying, cracking, or infections. 
  • Avoid soaps and harsh washing or drying of your breasts and nipples. This can cause dryness and cracking. 
  • Rub a little breast milk on your nipple after feeding to protect it. Keep your nipples dry to prevent cracking and infection. 
  • If you have cracked nipples, apply 100% lanolin after feedings.


Eglash A, Montgomery A, Wood J. Breastfeeding Disease-a-Month. 2008;54.

Ribeiro NM, Ribeiro MA. Breastfeeding and early childhood caries: acritical review. J Pediatr(Rio J). 2004 Nov;80(5 Suppl):S199-210.

Updated: 9/9/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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