Breastfeeding is a wonderful and organic experience, however, it can present its unique challenges, particularly for first-time mothers. With an abundance of advice and tips available online, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. To help, we had a heart-to-heart with Sam Cannizzaro, an experienced NICU nurse, Educator, IBCLC, and an expectant mother herself.
Sam, the brain behind Baby Body Soul, is passionate about supporting women as they step into the beautiful phase of motherhood. We're thrilled to share her pearls of wisdom on the different breastfeeding positions and hope they help you along your journey.
Sam's guide to essential breastfeeding positions
A position that resonates with a baby's innate instincts. All going well after your baby is born Sam shares “You will see your bub do something amazing called ‘the breast crawl’. That’s right, crawl! This amazing newborn will literally crawl up to your breast, find your nipple and latch on naturally! It’s an amazing position to begin with and watch your Bub’s natural feeding instincts do their thing”. It's Mother Nature's initiation into breastfeeding. This position will continue to have benefits for mums with a rapid milk flow, this position cleverly uses gravity to moderate the flow, facilitating a smoother feed for the baby.
Cross-cradle and cradle:
The cross-cradle is an excellent introductory position. It provides enhanced control over the baby's head and neck, promoting a deep latch. With cross-cradle you will hold you baby with the opposite hand to the breast you are feeding from, whereas with cradle you will support your baby with the same arm on the same side you are feeding on.
As you get the hang of it, transitioning to the more relaxed cradle position is straightforward. Sam emphasises that the best position is subjective, hinging on the comfort of both mum and baby. For example, a mum recuperating from a C-section might initially opt for the football hold but might transition to the cradle position as she recovers.
Here, the baby is nestled to the mother's side, their legs snug under her arm, reminiscent of holding a football. This position is particularly beneficial for mums with fuller breasts or those on the mend post a C-section. It ensures a firm latch, with you baby being well supported without exerting undue pressure on your surgical site.
Ideal for those tiring night feeds, it fosters relaxation for both mum and baby and is great for feeding in bed. This position involves lying on your side ideally on either your bed or sofa, placing your baby beside you, nipple in line with nose and using your top arm to support the latch if needed.
If you want to learn about these positions in detail, download our free digital guide with all the details you’ll need.
Discovering your quintessential breastfeeding position
A question Sam often encounters is, "Is there a one-size-fits-all position?" Her response is “a resounding no. The optimal position is a blend of several factors: your day's experiences, your childbirth journey, and the mutual comfort of you and your baby.”
As you evolve in your breastfeeding journey, will your preferred position change? Sam believes in adaptability. A mum might start with the football hold post a C-section but might find comfort and more ease in the cradle position as she heals. As the baby grows, their burgeoning curiosity might necessitate a tranquil environment, making the side-lying position in a quiet dark room the go-to choice.
The must-know position?
If Sam had to pick one position for new parents to get acquainted with, it would undoubtedly be the cross-cradle. “This position lays the foundation, teaching hand positioning, aligning the baby's body, and mastering the deep latch technique. Think of it as the breastfeeding training wheels”. Sam encapsulates it beautifully, “Once you’re confident with their latch, transitioning to the snug cradle position is a joy”. This position is the most common one you’ll see out in public and allows a free hand for that much needed mama multi-tasking when you are feeling a little more confident.
Where can I find support and help with breastfeeding?
Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand can help you find a lactation consultant near you.
Ask your GP, midwife, obstetrician, or healthcare provider to connect you with a lactation consultant locally.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association have many resources available including a 24-hour helpline for new mamas, face-to-face workshops, and online classes.