Breastfeeding Using the C-Hold and V-Hold

Hand Positions to Support the Breast

Mother breastfeeding newborn baby
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Breastfeeding moms tend to use one of two hand positions to support the breast while they are latching their baby. The two positions are the C-hold or palmer grasp and the V-hold or scissor grasp. One hold is not better than the another, and they both work well. When choosing the hold for you, you should try them both and use the one that makes you feel the most comfortable.

The C-Hold

The C-Hold, also known as the palmer grasp, is the most common hand position that moms use to support the breast when latching the baby on to breastfeed. The steps for using the C-hold are:

  1. Place your breast in the palm of your hand.
  2. Put your thumb on the top of your breast.
  3. Cup your fingers around the bottom of your breast.
  4. Your hand should look like it is in the shape of the letter C.
  5. Keep your thumb and fingers behind your areola (the dark circular area around the nipple) so that they do not get in the way of your baby's mouth.

This hold gives you the ability to control the movement of your breast and direct your nipple toward your baby's mouth. Whether you prefer a traditional latch or an asymmetrical latch, the C-hold will allow you to aim your nipple into the proper position so that the baby latches on correctly. With this hold, you can also gently squeeze your fingers and your thumb together to flatten the areola and nipple like a sandwich which can make it easier for some babies to latch on.

Almost everyone can use the C-hold. It works well when you are breastfeeding in a position such as the cradle position or the football (clutch) hold. It is a particularly good hold if you have large breasts or small hands. Preemies and babies with small mouths may also benefit from latching on with the C-hold. However, if you have very small breasts or very large hands may find the V-hold to be more comfortable for you.

There is a variation of the C-hold called the U-hold. It is basically the C-hold rotated from a letter C position to a letter U position. Some women feel the U-hold provides better support under the breast since the hand is cupping the breast from underneath with the thumb going up one side of the breast and the fingers going up the other side.

The V-Hold

The V-hold, also known as the scissor grasp, is another way to hold your breast while your baby is latching on to breastfeed. The steps for using the V-hold are:

  1. Place your nipple and areola between your index finger and your middle finger.
  2. Your thumb and index finger should be on the top of your breast. 
  3. Your middle finger, ring finger and pinky finger should be on the underside of your breast.
  4. Your hand will look like a scissor.
  5. You need to be able to spread your index and middle fingers very far apart so that they will be well behind your areola. If your fingers are too close to your areola, they may get in your baby's way and prevent a good latch. 

This hold works well for women with small breasts or large hands. As mentioned above, women with large breasts or small hands may feel more comfortable using the C-hold.

A Word From Verywell

When you or your baby are first learning to breastfeed, it can be helpful to hold and guide your breast into your baby's mouth. Plus, the breasts can become large and heavy once your milk comes in. So, using the V-hold or C-hold lets you support your breast and helps to get the baby latched on correctly. Depending on the size of your breast and your hand, you should choose the hold that feels the most natural to you.

You may only need to use a breast hold for a short time. As your baby gets older, breastfeeding becomes more established, and you become more confident, you might find that you no longer need to hold your breast when your baby latches on to breastfeed.  

View Article Sources
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD.  Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.