Breastfeeding is truly an art form. There are so many moving parts while learning to master this new skill. Mothers want to be sure their babe is latching properly, that they’re getting enough milk and that they’re comfortable. During this time, moms lose sight of their posture and can end up with some aches and pains of their own.
Musculoskeletal pain is common among moms who breastfeed while sitting or lying in bed. Usually the pain is mild and experienced in the neck, shoulders and back. But, there are ways that mom can make it easier on herself while still providing comfort for her little one.
Here are some posture tips to ensure everyone is comfortable!
The Cradle Hold
- This position is when you sit with baby lengthwise across your abdomen with your elbow (on the same side as the feeding breast) supporting baby’s head and hand supporting their bottom. Your other hand supports your breast.
- In this posture, you want to lay pillows on your lap to raise your baby up to appropriate nipple height. This will prevent you from hunching over in attempts to bring your nipple to baby. Instead, bring baby to nipple.
- For additional comfort, sit in a chair with supportive armrests and rest your feet on a stool to help elevate the little one and to avoid leaning down towards them.
The Cross-Cradle Hold
- This position differs from the Cradle Hold in that you support your baby with your opposite arm (to the feeding breast). For example, if you’re feeding on your left breast, use your right arm to support baby’s body and head. Your left fingers support the left breast.
- Similar to the Cradle Hold, you want to lay pillows on your lap to raise your baby up to appropriate nipple height, sit in a chair with supportive armrests and use a stool to rest your feet.
The Clutch or Football Hold
- As the name suggests, you position the baby like a clutch or football tucked under your arm.
- In order to remain comfortable with this hold, you want to sit upright with your back and shoulders well-supported.
- Place a pillow on your lap, towards the side of your hip and baby on the pillow facing you.
- Tuck baby’s legs and feet under your arm (like a purse or pigskin) and bend them slightly at the waist.
- Place your hand under the babe’s neck for support. Once they begin sucking, you can place a pillow under your hand so you are both supported.
Reclining or Side-lying Position
- This position is comfortable for feeding during the night but requires many pillows for support. You want to place several pillows behind your back, a pillow under your head and shoulders, and another one between your bent knees to ensure you maintain a neutral spine. An additional pillow should be placed behind baby as well.
- You are then going to lay baby facing you with their mouth aligned to your nipple and their head cradled with the hand of your bottom arm. Or, cradle the head with your top arm, tucking your bottom arm under your head, out of the way.
- If you need to bring baby closer to your breast, use a small pillow or blanket to prop them up. Neither of you should be straining in order to connect with one another.
Laid Back Position
- Similar to the side-lying position, this feeding position also requires the use of lots of pillows as good posture and support is crucial.
- You want to lie flat on your bed and elevate your head and shoulders slightly with pillows.
- Place your baby’s face down onto your stomach with their cheek to your breast.
- Again, make sure that neither of you are straining. If you are, tweak the position by using pillows or blankets for support.
The general idea with all of these positions is comfort and support for both mom and baby. If you are leaning in towards your baby, you will end up with a sore neck, shoulders and back, poor latching and sore nipples. All of these outcomes are going to make your breastfeeding experience a more difficult one for you both. So, use pillows, blankets, and stools, whatever you need to ensure comfort, support and an all-round positive bonding experience with you and your little bundle of joy!
The advice provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. Consultation with a Chiropractor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
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Positions and tips for making breastfeeding work. Baby Center.<http://www.babycenter.com/0_positions-and-tips-for-making-breastfeeding-work_8784.bc> (visited March 21, 2014)
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