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The Breastfeeding Bible

Holding Your Own

The cradle hold isn't the only option for nursing. Two other helpful breastfeeding positions are the clutch hold (also called the football hold) and the side-lying position. Both are good for the early days of recovery from a cesarean birth, since they avoid pressure on a new mom's incision. Here's how to do each:

CLUTCH OR FOOTBALL HOLD: This is a good nursing position for babies who have difficulty latching on or who arch their backs, squirm, or frequently detach themselves from the breast. It's also useful for small or premature babies, since it's the position that best allows you to see and correct Baby's latch-on.

Start by sitting up in bed or in a comfortable armchair and positioning a pillow at whichever side you'll be nursing on, wedging the pillow between you and the arm of the chair. Place Baby on the pillow alongside your body, with the lower part of her head and her neck and shoulders supported by your hand. Bend her legs upward so they're lying against the pillow supporting your back, or against the back of the chair. Be sure that Baby cannot push her feet against the back of the chair, causing her to arch her back. Pull your baby in close to you, and once she's sucking well, wedge a pillow underneath her back and head to help your arm hold her close. Lean back and enjoy the feeding.

SIDE-LYING HOLD: This position is basically the cradle hold, but with Baby and Mom lying on their sides facing one another. Before you start, place two pillows under your head, a pillow behind your back, another under your top leg, and a fifth pillow tucked behind your baby. Five pillows sounds like a lot, but remember that if you're comfortable, your baby will likely be, too. Place your baby on her side facing you, tummy-to-tummy, and nestled in your arm. (If you're recovering from a cesarean, ask someone to help you get positioned.) Position Baby so that her mouth is lined up with your nipple. Use the same latch-on techniques as described in the cradle hold.