What Is Laid-Back Breastfeeding?

Try the Biological Nurturing Position

newborn breastfeeding in laid-back nursing position

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Breastfeeding is a normal newborn reflex. Immediately after a baby is born, most healthy newborns can be placed on their parent's stomach for skin-to-skin time. From that position, the baby can begin breastfeeding. Laid-back breastfeeding taps into the baby's natural reflex to move their body up toward the breast, find the nipple, latch on, and begin to nurse.

The laid-back breastfeeding position allows the breastfeeding parent to lie in repose as the baby nurses. This breastfeeding method has been extensively researched and described by Suzanne Colson, PhD. Dr. Colson calls it biological nurturing or laid-back nursing.

Many birthing and lactation experts encourage the laid-back breastfeeding position as an ideal way to establish a nursing practice. It can be started with the first breastfeeding or used later on.

How to Use the Laid-Back Breastfeeding Position

For many new parents, this position is easy to learn, easy to remember, and comfortable. Since the baby latches on all on their own, you don't have to try to remember how to hold your baby or your breast to achieve a good latch.

The laid-back position allows breastfeeding to happen more intuitively for both the parent and their child. While there is no right or wrong way to use this technique, there are some basic guidelines to help you get started.

Get Into a Laid-Back Position

Remove your top and nursing bra and get into a reclined position on your bed, a sofa, or a chair. If you would like, you can use pillows to support your back, neck, and arms.

Place Your Baby on Your Stomach

You should be skin-to-skin, with your baby's belly touching yours and their head at the level of your breasts. They will then begin to smell and feel their way to your nipple. Once they find it, they will move their head back and forth, open their mouth wide, latch on and begin to nurse. (You can also help nudge them along as needed.)

Help Your Baby If Necessary

The baby may be able to do this alone, but you will most likely want (or need) to get involved. You can hold and support their body, lead them to your breast, touch them, or just snuggle with them.

Adjust their latch as needed so that they get a full mouthful of the nipple and areola in order to stimulate milk production—and protect your nipples from irritation.

As the baby lies on your chest, gravity will help them keep their position securely on your body. You'll still want to keep your hands at the ready to keep them safe.

While many parents find the laid-back nursing position to be intuitive and easy, not everyone will. And many babies will need help to get into position and latch on correctly. It can take time and patience to master this feeding technique.

Benefits of Laid-Back Breastfeeding

This method follows the baby's own natural instincts to feed at the breast. Tapping into this biological impulse right after the baby is born can help to establish a thriving breastfeeding practice.

Additionally, many people who breastfeed find this position to be accessible and comfortable right from the start—and using it may help to foster a strong parent-child bond.

This position may help prevent sore nipples, and it's a good option for nursing preemies, twins, and babies that have trouble breastfeeding.

If You Need Help

It is very normal for breastfeeding to be challenging at first and/or to need help from a lactation consultant to get the hang of various positions. Breastfeeding success is not just about the practical techniques but also your state of mind—and the amount of self-care and support accessible to you.

The truth is that it's not always easy and it's very common to feel disappointed, ashamed, overwhelmed, or concerned when starting to breastfeed. Early breastfeeding feels like a struggle for many new parents. This is why so many people stop breastfeeding earlier than intended.

However, with patience, effective guidance, and support, many people do establish a comfortable and long-lasting breastfeeding practice. Using the laid-back breastfeeding position may help you and your baby ease into breastfeeding. Or you may decide to focus on other positions.

Remember that parents and babies are unique. There is no right or wrong way to breastfeed. The right position is the one that works for you and your baby. So, if the laid-back breastfeeding position works for you, great. If not, there are lots of other options, such as the side-lying, cradle hold, or football hold positions.

A Word From Verywell

The laid-back breastfeeding position can be a relaxing way to feed your baby right after birth—and beyond. Many new parents find this to be a comfortable, instinctive position that works well for them.

However, don't worry if you need a little help or guidance to get the hang of laid-back breastfeeding. With a little support, you and your baby will likely find success in this position—and if not, you can consult a lactation consultant or simply try another position.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Colson SD, Meek JH, Hawdon JM. Optimal positions for the release of primitive neonatal reflexes stimulating breastfeeding. Early Hum Dev. 2008;84(7):441-449. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.12.003

  2. Colson S. Biological Nurturing: Instinctual Breastfeeding. Praeclarus Press.

Additional Reading

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.