It can be difficult to eat a meal when your chin is tucked down into your chest or when your body is awkwardly positioned. The same principle applies to newborns: The better supported and positioned they are, they more effectively they'll be able to breastfeed. Because your newborn has very little muscle control, it's up to you to position her in a way in which her whole body is well supported so she can access your breast easily.
To help you do so, you can try practicing four common breastfeeding holds. The cross-cradle and the football holds are great during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. The cradle and the side-lying positions are more effective after a few weeks, when both you and your baby are more experienced breastfeeders.
And don't forget to position yourself correctly first. You should be seated comfortably upright with your feet flat on the floor and a nursing or bed pillow on your lap to raise your baby to breast height.
Most new moms start breastfeeding using the following two positions, since they provide much-needed support to her newborn in the early days and weeks.
In this hold, you feed your baby in one arm and with your opposite breast. For example, hold him in your left arm with his feet toward your left side and his head in your left hand while you feed him from your right breast.
This position is ideal for women who have had a cesarean section and want to avoid touching tender incisions. It's also a good position for large-breasted women because it will help them feel like they have more control over their breasts.
The trick with this position is to hold your baby just like you'd hold a football at your side. For example, hold your baby with your right arm, with his feet toward your right side, his bottom in the crook of your right arm and his head in your right hand while you feed him from your right breast.
Once you and your baby have mastered the above breastfeeding holds, you might want to try two other positions. Both of them offer less support to your baby, so it's best to wait until your baby is at least 3 or 4 weeks old, has stronger neck muscles and is latching on and feeding easily.
This is the classic and most commonly pictured image of breastfeeding mothers. It's a popular hold because it encourages a more relaxed position and frees up your arm. In this hold you'll cradle your baby in your left arm with his head in the crook of your left elbow and his feet pointing toward your right side, and you'll feed him from your left breast.
This position allows both mom and baby to get much-needed sleep because it's done while you're lying in bed. Keep in mind that it's an advanced position because you don't have the full use of your hands, and latching the baby on deeply enough might be a problem when you're both learning to nurse.
Now that your baby is well supported, you'll want to make sure his head and body are properly aligned so he can drink at a comfortable angle.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)