Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Breastfeeding Positions

Cradle-Hold

This is a common position for breastfeeding. In order to latch the baby, the mother may support her breast with the hand opposite the side that the baby is nursing, with her thumb and fingers well back from the areola. Using the arm on the same side the baby is nursing on, the mother supports the baby’s head and body and keeps the infant close. The baby should be at the level of the breast, and pillows are useful to provide additional support. The mother turns the baby towards her so that the infant’s nose, chin, tummy and knees are touching her. The mother can tuck the infant’s lower arm below her breast to keep it out of the way.

Modified Cradle-Hold

The mother should be seated comfortably with additional pillows as necessary to support her back and arms then tuck the baby under breast. Use of a footstool may be beneficial. The mother can support her breast with fingers positioned at the base of her breast well back from the areola. The baby should be held in the arm opposite to the breast being used. The baby’s shoulder and neck are supported by her hand and the baby is turned facing the mother. Holding the back of the infant’s head with her hand may cause the infant to pull away when being put onto the breast. The baby’s head and neck should be in a slightly extended position to facilitate the chin touching the breast (Biancuzzo, 1999; Lothian, 1995).

Side-Lying

The mother should lie on her side with one or two pillows supporting her head and her lower arm flexed up. Use pillows as necessary to support her back and legs. The baby should be positioned side-lying, facing the mother, with the head low enough that the mom’s nipple is at the level of the baby’s nose, and the neck extended so that eye contact with the mother is possible (Scarborough Breastfeeding Network, 1999; Society of Paediatric Nursing of the Royal College of Nursing, 1998). The mother’s hand should be across baby’s shoulder blades. The mother should pull the baby towards her abdomen, and wait. The baby will extend his head with a wide mouth and will latch onto the breast without assistance.

Football Hold (Clutch Hold)

The mother should be seated comfortably as per the ‘cradle-hold’ description. The baby should be positioned on a pillow at the mother’s side, on the side of the breast to be used. Use extra pillows to raise baby to the level of the breast. The baby should be tucked in close to the mother’s side and held like a football with the bottom against the back of the chair and the legs up behind mother’s arm (Scarborough Breastfeeding Network, 1999; Society of Paediatric Nursing of the Royal College of Nursing, 1998). The baby’s back should be supported with the mother’s arm and his shoulders with mother’s hand (avoid holding baby’s head).

Illustrations reproduced with the permission of the City of Ottawa.