After I gave birth to my first daughter, I was dead-set on breastfeeding. I had read up on the benefits, gone to birthing and breastfeeding classes, bought a few nursing bras, and one of those c-shaped pillows. I thought I was set. There was one thing I wasn't anticipating the moment I held my baby to nurse for the first time though — I had no clue which breastfeeding positions would make things comfortable for my baby and I. to be honest, holding her felt awkward and I had a really hard time figuring out how to comfortably feed her.
Now, after nursing her and my second daughter, I'm a bit more experienced and a lot more comfortable with different positions. But I know I'm not alone in the struggle to get comfortable. Those first few months of breastfeeding can be awful, but with persistence, a few new positions, and even professional help if need be, most mamas find that they're able to overcome the awkward stage.
With more than two years of nursing under my belt (er, bra), I've defaulted to a few "favorite positions" that are the easiest for me to do, especially as my daughter gets older. The same is true for most moms. As time goes on, you learn right along with your baby and suddenly the task that felt so awkward at first feels like the most natural thing in the world.
In this position, also called the "biological position," you recline on your back and position the baby on your stomach (or to the side of you if your child is bigger). This one is great for nursing in bed, or when you want to get in some snuggles.
This position is exactly how it sounds. You hold your baby like a football player would hold the football. Hold your baby on its side with the same arm as your nursing breast. Then tuck him under your arm, positioning his mouth in front of your nipple to latch on and holding your breast with your opposite hand if necessary. Visit What To Expect for an excellent step-by-step video on this position.
By far the most popular hold, the cradle hold is perfect as your baby gets bigger. Simply hold your child with the same arm as your nursing breast. In this photo, I'm sitting with my legs propped up underneath my daughter to give a little extra support (those babies get heavy after a while).
The cross-cradle position is exactly the same as the regular cradle hold, except your arm switch roles. You'll support your baby with the opposite arm of the side you're nursing with. Watch this video from Parents to see an example of how it's done.
The side-lying position is great for co-sleepers, or any mama looking to sneak in a little bit of relaxation. Lay on the side you plan to nurse on and simply lay your baby next to you on the bed. It's hands free and oh-so relaxing.