5 Common Breastfeeding Positions to Try

You can breastfeed your baby in many different positions. When you have your first baby and breastfeeding is new to you, you may want to try some of the common breastfeeding positions that you have read about or seen. Then, as you become more confident, you can experiment with other positions. Before you know it you'll find the ones that are the most comfortable and work the best for you and your baby.

You don't have to breastfeed in any particular position. You can breastfeed lying down, sitting up, or even standing. If you like a position that you have never seen or heard of before, that's OK. As long as you and your baby are comfortable, and your baby can latch on and breastfeed well, you can nurse in any position that you choose.

Five women in different breastfeeding positions

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The 5 most common breastfeeding positions are:


The Laid-Back Nursing Position

First Breastfeeding, Laid-Back, Natural
Laid-Back Nursing. Layland Masuda/Moment/Getty Images

This natural position can be used from the first breastfeeding. It's a good choice for anyone, but it may be especially helpful if you're nursing a preemie, twins, or a baby that has difficulty latching on.


The Cradle Hold

Breastfeeding, Cradle
The Cradle Hold. Julia Wheeler and Veronika/Taxi/Getty Images

The cradle hold is probably the most popular nursing position. It may be difficult to breastfeed in this position right from the start, but once your baby can latch on well, this is a comfortable and common way to breastfeed.


The Cross-Cradle Hold

Breastfeeding Help, Resources, Cross Cradle, Lactation Consultant
The Cross-Cradle Position. Will Hill/Photo Library/Getty Images

The cross-cradle, or crossover hold, works well for nursing preemies, newborns, and babies that have trouble getting latched on. This position makes it easier to view your nipple and your baby's mouth. Plus, since you are holding your baby's head, you have more control to guide your baby into a good latch.


The Football Hold

woman holding baby in football hold

Dann Tardif / Getty Images

Also called the clutch hold, the football position is the perfect choice for nursing twins. It is also a good position for breastfeeding after a cesarean section since the baby does not lay across your abdomen. Mothers with large breasts and those with flat or inverted nipples may prefer to use this hold, too. It's another position that offers a better view of your baby's mouth and your nipples.


The Side-Lying Position

The Side-Lying Position. Ruth Jenkinson/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

The side-lying position is great when you're tired and want to nurse while lying down. It's a very natural choice for nighttime feedings, and it's also helpful for moms who have had a c-section.

Whether you choose to use one of these nursing positions or find new positions of your own, it's a good idea to alternate the positions that you use.

By using different holds, you will allow your baby to more effectively drain the different areas of your breasts. This will help to prevent plugged milk ducts and some of the other common problems of breastfeeding.

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  • 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.
  • Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.