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The 4 Most Popular Breastfeeding Positions: Doctor’s Advice

Dr TC Tan | Published on May 18, 2023

While breastfeeding is a completely natural process, this doesn’t mean that it’s second nature to all women. It can take time, patience, practice, and persistence before you get into the breastfeeding groove. If you are wondering which position is best, there is no single correct position. These are some of the most popular, tried and tested positions:


Hold #1: Cross Cradle Hold

Also known as the cross-over hold, this position gives you more control over how your baby latches.

  • Sit comfortably with the baby at your breast level.
  • Use your left hand and arm to hold and support your baby if you are nursing from your right breast (and vice versa if you are nursing from your left breast).
  • Rotate the baby’s body so that his chest and stomach are facing you directly.
  • Place your thumb and fingers behind your baby’s head and below his ears to guide his mouth to your breast.
  • Tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple, then draw slightly away to make sure your baby has a wide open mouth so that he can latch on properly. Make sure the baby’s mouth takes in your areola too (the darker area around your nipple) and is not sucking on your nipple alone or you will suffer from sore, painful nipples before long.

Tip: Use a nursing pillow to make it even more comfortable for your baby and you.

Recommended for:

This hold works well for newborn babies, premature babies, babies who have trouble latching on to the breast, and mothers with short nipples.


Hold #2: Cradle Hold

A classic breastfeeding position and one that is especially popular during the first few weeks of nursing.

  • Sit on a comfortable chair with supportive armrests or prop yourself up on your bed with lots of pillows.
  • If sitting on a chair, prop your feet up by resting them on a footstool or a coffee table so that you don’t have to lean down toward your baby.
  • Cradle your baby’s head in the crook of your arm (use the arm on the same side as the breast your baby is feeding on) while holding him in your lap so that he’s lying on his side with his face, stomach, and knees facing. Secure him by tucking his arm under your own.

Tip: You can use a pillow to help lift the baby and support your elbows.

Recommended for:

This position is best for babies who are 1 month and older — when their neck muscles are stronger and the baby is able to latch on well to your breast. It’s also suitable for women who have undergone a caesarean section (c-section), though some may find that it puts too much pressure on their abdomen.


Hold #3: Football Hold

Also known as the clutch hold, this is one of the first positions that breastfeeding mothers learn.

  • Tuck your baby under your arm (use the same side you are breastfeeding on) just as you would hold a clutch handbag or football.
  • Your baby should be facing you with his nose on the same level as your nipple and his feet pointing toward your back.
  • Support your breast with your other hand in a ‘C’ shape (4 fingers under your breast with your thumb on top).

Tip: This position is said to be good for mothers with a forceful milk ejection/letdown reflex.

Recommended for:

This hold is good if you’ve had a c-section as the baby does not need to rest on your stomach. Since the hold allows you to more easily guide the baby to your nipple, it’s great for babies that are small or who have trouble latching on. It also works well for women who have large breasts, those with flat nipples, small or premature babies, and mothers who want to feed their twins at the same time.


Hold #4: Side-Lying Position

Sometimes referred to as the reclining position.

  • Start by lying on your side with your baby on his side and facing you (tummy to tummy).
  • Tuck your baby close to you, using your arm to support your baby’s back and head. In this position, your baby will nurse from the breast closest to the bed.
  • Use your other hand to support the breast you are feeding with so the baby can nurse more comfortably.

Tip: Place some pillows behind your back for support and one between your bent knees if you like. If your baby needs to be higher and closer to your breast, place him on a small pillow. This way, he doesn’t need to strain to nurse and you don’t need to bend towards him.

Recommended for:   

Nursing while lying on your side is a good option if you’ve had a c-section or a difficult delivery. Emphasising that breastfeeding is beneficial for both mothers and babies, obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Tan Thiam Chye advises mothers who have concerns regarding breastfeeding to contact their hospital’s lactation experts or private lactation experts.

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