Most small babies breastfeed anywhere between 8 to 12 or more times each day, so it is important that you find a comfortable position to feed in that is not going to lead to back, neck or shoulder strain.
One of the things to remember is to always bring baby to the breast to feed, rather than bringing your breast to the baby by leaning forward or slouching sideways. In the early days it can help to have someone watch you breastfeed, as they are often able to more easily see if you are in an awkward position.
Baby needs to be positioned at a height that makes it easy for him or her to attach to the breast. For small babies it can sometimes help to use a pillow on your lap to lift them up closer to the breast. Many mothers also find a pillow under their elbow or in the small of their back can help them maintain a relaxed posture while feeding.
There are several different positions that can be comfortable for breastfeeding, including the laid-back position (leaning back slightly while sitting, with baby lying tummy to tummy on you), cradle hold (baby held horizontally across your front, tummy to tummy), football hold (baby held under your arm with feet facing backwards) and feeding lying down. There are also many individual variations of these positions. There is really no ‘wrong’ position; if it is comfortable for you and your baby is able to feed easily then it is the ‘right’ position for you.
“Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. From growing bump for nine months, to all of a sudden being thrown into motherhood. It is exciting but also daunting at the same time. I was certainly prepared to have a baby and longed to have one, but I must admit, I wasn’t prepared for the curve balls that l was hit. My first son was taken seconds after he was born and required lifesaving surgery. Whilst we knew that this was going to happen, I was determined that l would at the very least breastfeed him. Thankfully, with amazing support from staff, and a great guide with a lactation consultant, I was able to feed him successfully for 12 months. When l had my second child, I thought I knew what l was doing. The technique and getting him to attach correctly was still awkward. I had to learn all over again, this skill of attaching him. What made it worse was that I was slouching forward and not bringing the baby to the breast. I had grazed nipples and ended up almost giving up, but l persisted with guidance and support from the Australian Breastfeeding Association. With our final baby, l finally decided to use a breastfeeding pillow. The shape and height of the pillow was perfect (boomerang shape) which meant there was less strain on my back, neck and shoulders; l was feeding every two-three hours for the first eight weeks. I also found that I was able to get my body into the right position, not slouching forward, which is common when feeding so often, fatigue and the early morning feeds can do that. Investing in a breastfeeding pillow like the one recommended by the ABA is a lesson learnt over years of breastfeeding.”