Breastfeeding positions – this is how you breastfeed your baby comfortably

Nursing positions – How to breastfeed your baby comfortably

Breastfeeding is possible in many positions (© Nikolay Suslov)

There are several positions in which the mother can breastfeed her baby. It is important that the mother herself is stably supported, feels comfortable and can relax. Which attitude the mother finally chooses depends on her personal preferences and the particular situation.

In unfavorable breastfeeding positions, the baby can not properly grasp the nipple. This can make the nipple sore and the baby can not drink effectively. The mother can also cause tension.

There are a few basic rules that apply equally to all breastfeeding:

  • The baby should be placed in close physical contact with the mother, belly to stomach so that his nose or upper lip is directly in front of the nipple. It should not have to tilt, stretch or twist the head to reach the nipple. Ear, shoulder and hip of the child form a line.
  • The baby’s arms lie to the right and left of the breast where it sucks; if both arms are on one side of the chest, it can not suck effectively.
  • Pull the child to the breast and not the breast to the child!

The classic breastfeeding

There are essentially three to four classic breastfeeding positions that work best with most nursing couples; These should be introduced here. Have all placement positions displayed and assessed by your midwife. Of course, there are countless other ways to keep the baby breastfeeding.

The cradle attitude

Breastfeeding in the Wiegehaltung: The mother sits upright, the baby’s head lies in the arm crook of the mother.

The cradle posture is considered the “classic” breastfeeding because it is most commonly seen. The mother sits upright and holds the baby in her arms. It supports the back or covers the thigh of the baby. The baby’s head rests on the mother’s forearm or in the elbow. Arm, shoulders and back of the mother should be comfortable, e.g. supported by a nursing pillow. The mother can support her breast with the free hand with the C-grip (thumb up, fingers down). In the newborn period, the mother may need to support the breast throughout the meal in this way, so that it does not slip out of the baby’s mouth, later, especially with smaller, firmer breasts.

The cradle attitude is applicable everywhere, whether at home or on the road. Compared to breastfeeding while lying, however, the cradle posture is relatively cumbersome due to the required padding, which the mother has to build for breastfeeding, especially in the neonatal period each time. Another disadvantage of weighing is that the mother can not guide the baby’s head. To support the breast, she also has to reach between baby and breast. For experienced nursing couples, however, the cradle posture is simple and practical, so it is often used.

The modified cradle attitude

With the modified weighing attitude the mother holds the head of the baby with the hand. (© Lightfield studios)

In the modified cradle posture, the mother sits upright just like the simple cradle posture. The baby lies belly to belly in front of her. The main difference to the simple weighing posture is that the baby’s head is not in the crook of the arm, but in the opposite direction, on the mother’s hand. By hand, the mother can better stabilize and guide the baby’s head than with the simple weighing posture. For example, putting on little newborn babies who are not yet able to keep their brains stable and are silent is easier. The palm of her hand comes between his shoulder blades, the fingers support the head, but do not exert pressure on the back of the head, which would disturb the breastfeeding.

If the baby is supported with a nursing pillow, the mother with her free hand can support her breast from behind in the C-grip.

With the other (outer) hand, the mother can support her breast from behind in the C-grip, without having to reach between baby and breast as in the simple cradle-posture. Overall, this position is more stable than the simple weighing attitude. This posture is well suited for landing problems, large breasts, heavy milk injection, premature babies and sick newborns.

Football attitude

Football Stance: The baby is under the mother’s arm. So the mother has a very good view of the moorings.

In this posture, which is also called side posture or back posture, the baby lies laterally, below the mother’s arm. The baby’s legs point to the mother’s back and brace against the backrest. The baby’s head is held and guided by the mother’s hand. The advantage of the lateral position compared to the weighing position is that the child’s head can be pulled closer to the breast. The mother sees the child’s mouth best and can therefore control the putting on well. This way, the baby can be put on better, especially in the newborn period. Therefore, the football stance is often used for learning breastfeeding. This position is also well suited to caesarean section, milk injection and for premature and sick newborns, who need a lot of support when breastfeeding. It can also be used to release a build-up of milk in the lateral breast segment. Also for the football attitude you need a nursing pillow or other upholstery. It is relatively cumbersome and therefore rather short term in use.

Breastfeeding while lying in side position

Breastfeeding lying down in a lateral position: the ideal resting position for resting and sleeping

Breastfeeding while lying down (in a lateral position) is a challenge for some mothers in the first days and weeks after birth. The baby’s mouth and chest are more difficult to see and straighten while lying down than in other nursing positions. For advanced nursing couples, however, breastfeeding while lying is a very comfortable and uncomplicated posture, in which the mother can rest and do the best. Therefore, it is worth practicing this position again and again, until mother and baby get along well with it.

It is quite normal that one becomes sleepy while breastfeeding and also dries. If the baby falls asleep while nursing, it can stay put and does not need to be woken up. The mother can still get up. The sleeping environment must be safe though. One can e.g. set up a futon mattress on the ground for a resting place. Even in a double bed or in a family bed you can breastfeed very well, if the safety precautions are observed (see the post Breastfeeding at night). Breastfeeding while lying is also excellent for the nightly nursing meals, so that the mother does not have to get up extra and can sleep in spite of frequent nocturnal breastfeeding.

In this breastfeeding position mother and baby lie very close to each other on the side, they touch belly to belly. The back of a newborn still needs to be supported: either through the mother’s upper arm or e.g. through a rolled-up towel or a (still) pillow. Older babies can also keep themselves quite well. The mother is supported by her bent arm and her bent legs and surrounds the baby. If you like, you can also use a blanket roll in the back and possibly a pillow between your knees to support it. However, any additional padding increases the effort before and after breastfeeding. The better the baby can support itself, the easier and more relaxing this breastfeeding position becomes. Sometimes the baby is too high up compared to the mother, then it should be before breastfeeding e.g. pulled down on the sleeping bag, so that the nipple of the mother is at the level of the baby’s nose. The baby should tilt his head back to the neck to breastfeed.

Even in this position, the child can drink on both breasts, without the mother having to turn to the other side. It is often more comfortable to empty the lower chest first. Then the mother offers the upper breast: For this she turns her upper body to the child and lays a little bit on the lower breast. When the mother wants to turn to the other side, she pushes the baby against her stomach and slowly turns around with the baby.

Breastfeeding while lying down is perhaps the most important nursing position: It is important that as many nursing mothers as possible learn to breastfeed in this position in order to be able to breastfeed comfortably and restoratively in bed and especially at night for many months and possibly years.

Reclining breastfeeding / La >the start if the baby is allowed to take the lead when docking. On the belly of the mother put robben newborns to the nipple (which is called “Breastcrawl”) and capture them independently and correctly. Breastfeeding problems may occur more often in the classic, upright nursing positions where the mother puts on the baby and the newborn’s innate search and docking reflexes can not be meaningfully used. Even breastfeeding problems that have already occurred, such as sores, painful nipples, annoying difficulties or refusal to breastfeed, are helpful for this breastfeeding. In lactation counseling it is increasingly recommended to learn and practice breastfeeding in this reclined nursing position. The other, classic nursing positions are more recommended for advanced nursing couples.

For laid-back breastfeeding, also known as biological nurturing, laid-back nursing, intuitive nursing or baby-led latching, the mother leans back into a comfortable, half-sitting, half-lying posture. Your head, neck, shoulders, back and arms are comfortably supported by a comfortable armchair or bed and various pillows. She feels comfortable and stable – she can relax as much as possible without having to keep to herself. The mother puts the naked or slightly dressed baby upside down, diagonally or obliquely upwards. She does not have to hold the baby, it is stably supported by her body – her hands are free. The baby’s face should be near the nipple and touching the breast to help him find the nipple. The baby finds the nipple spontaneously and docks completely independently. It also uses his hands and may also suck on his own hands zwischendruch. The mother needs no further guidance, she intuitively forms a team with the baby: she can help the baby and support her in his project. She can support the baby’s feet with her hands to help him walk and hold on to her body. She may or may not support her breast with her hand as she sees fit. The main thing, mother and child relax and feel well. In women with large breasts, where the nipples point down, the baby docks diagonally from below. Ideally, mother and baby should wear as little clothing as possible to establish direct skin-to-skin contact. Reclining breastfeeding also works under light comforters so mother and baby do not feel cold. A light clothing of the baby is also possible /z.B. with a body), but the feet should be naked so that the baby can rest well.

More pictures and instructions are u.a. on the page This breastfeeding is still relatively new and little known, even among midwives and nurses. This is probably a natural “primal silence”.

A detailed German-language guide to all breastfeeding positions and in particular to the “Laid-back Nursing” can be found in the book by Regine Gresens “Intuitive Breastfeeding” and in a video online course from her (, with costs).

Breastfeeding positions for special cases

Breastfeeding after cesarean section

Nursing positions after cesarean section

After a caesarean section, the mother can hardly move and the stomach is very sensitive to pressure and contact, even sitting is not possible at first. After a caesarean section, it is recommended to breastfeed while lying down in the supine position. So the mother can breastfeed painless despite the scar. The baby can be supported by a nursing pillow next to the mother. Laid-back nursing (see the section above) can also work well, with the baby not being placed on the mother’s abdomen because of the scar, but across the chest or shoulder area. So that the baby can dock on the basis of his innate reflexes, it should be placed on the mother’s belly and be able to rest securely there.

As soon as the mother can turn to the side, this breastfeeding position is also recommended. The mother turns slowly and cautiously aside with the support of relatives or caregivers, then braces behind her back and between her legs with the help of a nursing pillow. The scar is protected with a small pillow or towel so that the baby does not step against it. The football posture is recommended after a caesarean section (more about the article in the article breastfeeding after cesarean section).

Breastfeeding in the Hoppe-Reiter-Sitz

Straddle seat

The child sits upright on the mother’s lap, her face in front of her chest. This position works well with a very strong milk donor reflex and with a congestion in the lower part of the breast. Even babies with reflux, swallowing or breathing problems benefit from this upright nursing position. Newborns must be well supported by hand or a nursing pillow in the back.


Breastfeeding in quadruped stall

If the milk can flow in the direction of gravity, then the milk flow increases. This somewhat awkward position is therefore used to dissolve a congestion. The mother stands in quadruped stand on hands and knees. The child lies on her back under her. The child is lifted higher with the help of a mattress, pillow or blanket so that it can comfortably drink at the breast without the mother having to do any “push-ups”. The child should be placed so that his chin points to the dammed place.

Breastfeeding in the baby carrier

Breastfeeding in sling or baby carrier

When babies are breast-fed in sling or carry-on, they are in paradise. You can always stay in skin or body contact with the mom and have the milk bar right in front of your nose. In this way, babies can be easily breastfed on the go. It should be noted, however, that babies are usually tied a bit higher (so that the mother can give a kiss on the head) and the chest is thus relatively far down. Some mothers raise their breasts to breastfeed higher and / or bind their child a little lower, so that the breastfeeding works easily.

Breastfeeding in the sling is very common in traditional cultures among mothers who have to do hard physical labor despite breastfeeding. The baby, which is always worn by the mother on the body, can operate on the breast itself or is swung forward to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding in a rocking chair or on an exercise ball

Breastfeeding in the rocking chair

Breastfeeding in a rocking chair is a great way to calm babies. At the same time, the mother can rest.

Raised babies can often be calmed even better by gently jumping on an exercise ball than on a rocking chair. Vertical movements seem to be more effective than horizontal ones.


  • Katharina von Herff: Pain when breastfeeding. Lecture at the La Leche League Regional Meeting, May 2017.
  • Gresens R: Intuitive breastfeeding. Kösel publishing house, 2016.
  • Both D, Frischknecht K: Breastfeeding compact. Atlas for diagnosis and therapy in lactation consultation. Urban fisherman, 2006.
  • Guoth-Gumberger M, Hormann E: Breastfeeding. So you provide your baby well. Gräfe and Unzer, 2004.
  • Gresens R: Does our guide make breastfeeding so difficult? By means of biological nursing many of the initial breastfeeding problems can be avoided. Lactation & breastfeeding. 2014 (2).
  • Personal experiences




© Dr. Z. Bauer – Publications in breastfeeding. 2003-2019. Last additions: August 2019.

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