Your Guide To Latching And Breastfeeding Positions!

Your Guide To Latching And Breastfeeding Positions!

Source: 0 to 2 – Baby & You. A Pediatrician’s Handbook for practical parenting

Published with permission from the authors: Dr. Mahesh Balsekar and Malvika Choudhary & publisher- Vakils, Feffer and Simons Pvt. Ltd.  


What is the best breastfeeding position immediately after delivery?

Normal delivery

  • Most mothers can sit up and feed the baby immediately after delivery.
  • If the stitches hurt, the best breastfeeding position is to feed lying down.

Caesarean section

  • Initially, most mothers find it easier to breastfeed lying down, turned on one side.
  • Once you can sit up, the best breastfeeding position is the football position. This prevents the weight of the baby on the stitches.
  • Once the pain in the stitches settles, you can feed in any position comfortable for you.


What are the different breast feeding positions?

  Cradle Cross-cradle Football Side-lying
Mother Position Sit up in a chair or on the bed.  May use a foot stool or a pillow under the thigh for better positioning. Sit up in a chair or on the bed. Sit up in a chair or on the bed. Mother lies on her side.
Baby Position Baby is cradled in the same arm as the breast she is feeding on.  E.g. baby held in the right arm when feeding on left breast. Baby is cradled in the arm opposite to the breast the baby is feeding on.  E.g. baby held in the left arm when feeding on right breast. Baby is cradled in the same arm as the breast she is feeding on. Baby lies with the body completely facing the mothers.
Details on Position Support her breast with 4 fingers underneath and thumb on top in a C Position. Support the baby’s head between thumb and fingers. Baby’s body placed between the mother’s arm and body, with legs pointing backwards. Baby and mother lie completely facing one another.
Which Position? Commonly used. Small babies.
Babies with trouble latching on.
After C-sections.
Babies with ‘breast preference.’ 
After C-section.
Night feeds.


Which is the best breastfeeding position to feed the baby?

Any position in which the mother and baby are comfortable, are good enough for breastfeeding. 

You may use different breastfeeding positions at different times.

  • The cradle position



All babies: This is the most commonly used position. 

  • The cross cradle position



Small babies: Useful if the baby is small and needs better head support.

Difficult to latch baby: Useful for better head control for a baby who finds difficulty in latching.

  • The football position

Babies with breast preference: Useful for a baby who prefers to feed only on one breast. If a baby prefers to feed say only on the left side and refuses to feed on the right side, you might try the football position on the right side. 


  • Mothers might choose to use the football position so that both can be fed at the same time.
  • The reclining position

After caesarean: Convenient way to feed after a caesarean.

Night feeds: When the mother needs rest. 


What is the correct way to breast feed?

The most important point is to get the baby to position or ‘latch on’ correctly. 

A few points may help mothers make sure they are doing it right.


Position the breast after washing your hands.

  • Hold the breast with the thumb above and the fingers below the breast, with hands in a C shape.
  • Touch the nipple to the baby’s cheek or you can touch the nipple to the baby’s lips. 



  • The baby will turn and try to reach for the breast and open her mouth. This is called the rooting reflex. The baby will open the mouth wide. 



  • Put the nipple deep in the baby’s mouth and pull the baby towards the breast so that the baby takes at least an inch of the breast in the mouth. With a correct latch you will find the angle between the upper and lower lips 120 degrees indicating a wide open mouth.



  • The infant should grasp the entire nipple, plus an additional inch of the surrounding areola. 


With the correct latch

• The position will be comfortable.
• You will see the baby’s mouth wide open and most of the areola is in the baby’s mouth.
• You will hear the baby gulp milk and appear satisfied.
• You will feel fullness before the feed and emptying after the feed.
• There will be no soreness, cracks and pain.
• There will be no lumps or engorgement.


With an incorrect latch

• You hear lip smacking sounds instead of the normal gulping sounds. 
• When the baby feeds, the pain is severe and persistent. 
• If the latch is not right, detach the baby and try again. Inserting your finger inside the baby’s cheek releases the vacuum. The baby will let go. Try again and make sure you have a comfortable latch.


‘Latch on’ video

To better understand how to get the correct latch, view this video by Stanford Children’s Hospital on breastfeeding.


I find it difficult to latch the baby. What can I do?

Some babies refuse to latch and struggle and fight the breast on attempting feeds

  • Before you start the feed, express a drop of milk. The baby might be attracted by the taste and smell of milk and be more willing to start the feed.
  • Comfort the baby by just letting the baby be on the breast. Avoid forcing, pulling and pushing at the breast. Once the baby settles down, the baby might get interested and find the breast and feed well.


Why is getting the correct latch so important?

‘Latch on’ problems are the cause of most of the breast feeding problems. 
With an incorrect latch

  • Mothers can get soreness, cracks, and fissures and bleeding. 
  • Incomplete emptying of the breast leads to breast lumps and engorgement.
  • Incomplete emptying of the breast means the baby gets less milk and feeds all the time.



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