Breastfeeding positions

There is no "one" right way to breastfeed. Choose the position(s) that work best for you and your baby.

Regardless of the position that you use, it is important to keep your baby's head, shoulders and hips in a straight line. The correct positioning is tummy-to-tummy and nose-to-nipple.

It is also important to bring your baby to your breast rather than your breast to your baby. This will prevent you from getting a sore back from leaning over.

Here are some positions you can try:

Laid-back hold

  • Lie on your back, supported by pillows.
  • Position your baby so she is tummy-to-tummy on your stomach. Gently guide her to your breast while supporting her bottom with your hand.

Cross-cradle hold

  • Position your baby so she is tummy-to-tummy and she is lying across your lap.
  • Support her back with your forearm and hold the base of her head in your hand.
  • Hold your breast with your free hand until she has latched on to your nipple. You may need to hold your breast for the entire feeding.
  • When your baby starts to nurse, you may want to switch your arms to the cradle hold position.

Football hold

  • Place a pillow or two at your side to support your arm and raise your baby to breast level.
  • Support her back with your forearm and hold the base of her head and neck with your hand. Use your forearm to hold her tummy against your side.
  • Hold your breast with your free hand.

Lying-down hold

  • Lie on your side with pillows supporting your back. Bend the knee of your top leg so that you are comfortably turned on your side.
  • Place your baby on her side, facing you. She should be close to you with her face at breast level.

Cradle hold

This works best for babies who are latching well.

  • Place a pillow or two in your lap to support your baby and get her to breast level.
  • Place her head on the crook of your arm.
  • Keep your elbow close to your body to help your baby keep her chin up.
  • Turn her tummy and hips to face yours. Don't have her rest on her back and just turn her head.

Breastfeeding positions photos

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/02/2015