Many breastfeeding problems can be solved by improving the baby’s latch on the breast and the position in which we breastfeed. In this article, we will talk about how to get a good latch and help babies drink all the milk they need while avoiding complications.
Many of you are just starting to breastfeed, and you will probably breastfeed your baby in this most typical position, the cradle hold.
The cradle hold position means you are sitting, and the baby is lying on top of you, crossing your body. Although this is the most well-known position, because we have seen it around most, this does not mean it is the best and easiest way to breastfeed. In fact, if you look at most of the images on the Internet of babies breastfeeding, you can find many mistakes, which, when copied, can give you more problems than joy. This does not mean that it is a “bad” position; it just doesn’t have to be the best for everyone.
But as it is one of the most common positions, we will explain it here step by step and with images so that there are no doubts. If it hurts when your baby is feeding in the cradle hold, check this blog entry point by point.
Step-by-step, the cradle hold position:
- Sit comfortably; you need to feel comfortable in your chosen chair, sofa, or bed. Use some pillows to help (they don’t need to be special breastfeeding pillows; the ones you have in bed or sofa will do).
- When your baby shows the first signs of hunger when she starts to wake up, turn her head, suck her fists, and so on, do not hesitate to start with feeding! If she gets too angry, too awake, or too upset, it will be much harder for you to bring her to the breast properly and get a good latch.
- Place your baby’s head on your forearm in the wrist area so that the hand on the side where you are feeding rests on your baby’s back and not on her bottom. This is an important detail because when you put your hand on the bottom, the baby lies too high.
- When you pull your baby towards your breast, don’t do that at the level of her mouth. It is better to align the nipple to the level of her nose so that she tilts her head back and opens her mouth wide, just like we do when drinking from a water bottle.
- Her body has to be aligned: you could draw an imaginary straight line from her ear, over her shoulder, and up at her hip. If we imagine ourselves drinking from a water bottle again, think that it can be very uncomfortable to drink and swallow with our head twisted on our shoulders.
- When your baby opens her mouth, she will make several opening movements; not all of them will be ideal, so you have to wait and see which second she opens her mouth the most.
- Try to keep the nipple at the height of her nose, directed to her palate. If you draw an imaginary straight line, the nipple should touch the palate crown.
- In this moment, you have to be very quick; the hand you have on your baby’s back should press to bring the baby to your breast. Remember that she is coming towards you, not you towards her.
- The baby’s lips should be both curled outwards at an angle of more than 90 degrees so that they can latch more effectively and make a vacuum.
- The nose and chin should touch your breast while feeding and don’t worry, the baby will get enough air because babies know how to breathe while they eat, and as long as the back of their head is free from obstructions, they will tilt their head backward to breathe. That’s why it is so important that they don’t have anything behind their head that prevents this movement.
And remember, you are practicing. This means that if it hurts or feels uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to stop and try again. To do this, use your little finger to place it into your baby’s side of the mouth and break the sucking vacuum, then get your nipple and areola out of her mouth and try again. Breastfeeding should not hurt.
You can do this!
**Photographs by Frank Diaz taken from the book “Somos la leche” by Alba Padró (our Co-founder and author of this post)