What Your Breastfeeding Position Says About You How do YOU nurse?

By Babe | Illustration by Ana Hard

There are many different ways to breastfeed. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, as well as your personality and overall parenting vibe, you might opt for a low-key nap style in bed or an on-the-go upright feed with them all crouched into their carrier. Here’s what your nursing style says about you:

Side-lying: You’re a postpartum goddess who recognizes that life’s about mindful pleasure. Whether you’re tuning into your Headspace app or your energy healer’s Instagram Lives, you’re staying super centered and trying to enjoy your 4th trimester as much as possible. As a Pisces rising, you’ve especially earned it. You’ve also read, like, three chapters of the First 40 Days so you’re here for ALL the rest. Also, you’re tired AF.

Laid-Back: You’re a stress-less kind of gal who’s got this whole postpartum thing in the bag. Why focus on all the little worries when you’re streaming Netflix and you’ve got one hand on the remote and the other on the chip bowl? Your babe will find that nipple eventually. All you have to do is get ‘em in the general direction and they’ll figure the rest out. Also, you’re tired AF.

Cross-cradle hold: Is breastfeeding exactly how you pictured it when you were young and daydreaming about the moment you’d be called mom? Yes, this timeless, classic, iconic nursing position allows you to totally dote on your every little detail of your babe (Those lashes! Those toes! Swoon!) while also relishing in the totally romantic vision of life as a 24/7 lactating machine. It’s actually super important work. Like, in case you didn’t notice, I’m BREASTFEEDING right now. Also, you’re tired AF.

Football hold: The one thing you can’t pawn off onto your postpartum doula or babynurse, so might as well make it less about the baby and more about ALL the free space you have in front of you! Well done. Football is the perfect position when you claim to be on maternity leave, but in actuality you’re nursing AND checking email at the same time. Plus, what’s a little football hold when you’ve got investors to please? Also, you’re tired AF.

Football hold for twins: The fact that you’re even breastfeeding twins basically means you’re a hero however the hell you’re doing it, so congrats on winning at life. BTW you’re tired AF.

Upright in a carrier: You’re a busy bee who’s clearly running the show and you have no problem multi-tasking your day away. You’ve got mouths to feed, literally, so why should breastfeeding stop you from checking off all the boxes of your day? Trip to the post office, check. Making the rounds at the food coop? Check check. Your baby’s just fine in that carrier, a mere suckling nipple away from nutrition. Hell, you might even nurse ’til they’re in elementary school. Also, you’re tired AF.

Underarm or Clutch Hold:

As a new mom, perhaps you’re trying to navigate around your C-section wound, or maybe you have large breasts that require a bit more maneuvering to ensure your baby’s mouth has a good latch on the areola. This is where the underarm, or clutch, hold comes in. 

This breastfeeding position allows you to keep an eye on your little one’s latch and gives you a free hand to use pillows for support or to grab a sip of much-needed water. Also, it’s a pretty good position for those with a sore nipple, giving the tender area a break. 

Reclined Position:

Pediatric doctors might not talk enough about the reclined or laid-back position, but it’s the epitome of ‘chill’ breastfeeding. When a lactation consultant first suggested this position, you probably gave them an exasperated look, but trust us, it’s a lifesaver. Especially in the early days when the letdown reflex can be a bit too powerful for your babe.

This position ensures that gravity works in your favor, allowing for a slower flow of breast milk. It also means you’re in a position to enjoy some laid-back Netflix time while keeping your baby close and maintaining eye contact. 

Remember, though, it might not work best for everyone, particularly if you’ve had a cesarean. But if it’s right for you, you’ll realize that you have more free time than you’d imagined.

Cradle and Cross-Cradle Hold:

You might think that these are two different breastfeeding positions, but the cradle and the cross-cradle hold are practically siblings. For the former, your baby’s head rests on the lower part of your arm, while for the latter, you’ll use the opposite arm (think the right arm for the left breast and vice versa). 

The cross-cradle position gives you more control of your baby’s head, making it easier to guide them to your nipple. In the cradle hold, your baby’s back rests along your forearm in a straight line from head to bottom, allowing for biological nurturing.

The secret sauce? Keep your baby’s nose free for breathing, ensuring they’re turned towards you, their belly to your belly. And yes, remember to support your baby’s neck and the back of their head with your hand, letting them lean back a bit for a better latch. 

These holds are particularly helpful for older babies who have mastered the art of suckling and are champions at maintaining a good latch. 

A Final Word

Ultimately, your chosen breastfeeding position will depend on what is most comfortable for you and your baby. It could be one of the aforementioned positions or a combination of a few. 

It may take some trial and error, especially in the early days when you’re both still learning, but with a little patience and some help from a healthcare provider or lactation consultant, you will find the method that best suits you.

It’s important to note that while these positions may say a little something about your lifestyle, nothing can encapsulate the magic of nourishing your child in your arms — a special bonding experience unique to every mom and baby pair. 

For more mom tips and encouragement, check out the Babe by Hatch blog.