When you get the hang of several different nursing positions, you can make life more convenient, help drain the breast more effectively, and avoid putting pressure on any one area of the nipple too much (which can combat nipple soreness). Some moms may also find certain positions more comfortable or easier for their babies to manage. The following are a few alternatives to the classic cradle hold.
This position can be more comfortable and achievable for moms with large breasts, for mothers who are recovering from a c-section, or for a premature baby. Place your baby on her side facing you, supporting her head in your hand. Instead of crossing your baby's legs in front of you as in the cradle hold, tuck her legs under your arm and put her on that side's breast, which you can support with your other hand. A pillow in your lap will help get your baby to the height of your breast and provide support.
This position allows you to get a lot of rest while nursing your baby. You and your baby will lie on your sides, facing each other. Use the crook of your arm or your forearm to support her head, and put a pillow under your head for support. Some moms rest their head on their hand, with their arm just above the baby's head. A rolled-up towel or small blanket behind your baby's back can help keep her turned toward you.
Depending on the size of your breasts and your baby's head control, you may have to experiment until you find a way to make this position work for you, but the benefits to this position are worth the work!
Remember prolactin, the feel-good hormone produced when you nurse your baby? Another great “side effect” of prolactin is the fuzzy, sleepy feeling it often gives nursing moms. By getting the hang of nursing in a lying-down position, you can take advantage of these sleepy nursing sessions by getting in a little snooze while you're nursing.
Over the Shoulder
This creative position can be a lifesaver if you have very large breasts or an overactive milk-ejection reflex that has your baby gagging and choking. Since your baby will be nursing from above you, the extra milk can run out of the corners of her mouth instead of shooting down her throat.
Lie flat on your back, and put your baby over your shoulder so that her tummy is on your shoulder. She should be face-down, with her mouth coming down onto your nipple. This can be tricky to get right the first few times, so enlist help.
Leaking milk is fairly common in the first few weeks after giving birth, especially if you have a very abundant milk supply. This is a good thing. Sometimes, leaking lasts for weeks or even months after your baby is born. You may leak or spray milk during lovemaking, when you think about or hold your baby, or when you hear your baby — or another baby — crying. You may worry that you'll find yourself with a soggy shirt in public or grow tired of waking up in a wet bed.
Try these tips to reduce leaking:
Nurse your baby frequently. If you're going to be leaving the house or making love, try nursing right beforehand to stave off leaking.
Use flannel or cotton breast pads to catch leaks. If you use disposable breast pads, make sure they don't have a waterproof plastic layer, which can trap milk and cause yeast infections and irritation in the nipple.
Sleep on bath towels, and wear a bra and nursing pads at night.
If you feel tingling or the sensation of “letting down” while out in public, press your forearms firmly against your breasts. This can slow or stop the flow of milk.