Before I had my first baby, I did everything I could to prepare for breastfeeding. I took classes, read books, bought a breastfeeding pillow, and watched YouTube videos. It turns out, it's impossible to really "practice" before your baby gets here, and your breastfeeding breasts might not look like the one's in the videos or books. In other words, you might have to try a few different positions before you find one that works. Thankfully, there's actually a list of the breastfeeding positions for large breasts for you to choose from.
It turns out, breastfeeding is definitely not a one-size-fits-all experience, especially when it comes to breast size. According to the International Lactation Consultant Association, breastfeeding moms with large breasts may face different challenges and, as a result, prefer different positions for breastfeeding their babies. And because it may be difficult to get a good latch, or to get comfortable, you may need to try different positions and use pillows or other accessories to find the right position for you and your baby. Anne Smith, International Board Certified Breastfeeding Consultant (IBCLC) recommends that large-breasted nursing moms pay particular attention to latch, to ensure that their babies are able to get a good portion of the areola into their mouths, to prevent nipple pain, and to ensure that they are able to transfer milk effectively.
Finding the right position for you and your baby will depend on a few factors, and may require a bit of trial and error. If you have large breasts, experts suggest that the following holds might be a good place to start:
According to the Anne Smith, IBCLC on the site Breastfeeding Basics, the "football hold" — where baby's body is tucked under your arm like a football, and she is facing you — is a popular choice among large-breasted women, because it gives you control and the ability to use both hands to position both baby and your breast. She advises using pillows to bring your baby up to your level, rather than leaning over to avoid back pain.
Many breastfeeding resources suggest a cradle hold as a first hold to try when breastfeeding your newborn. According to Philippa Pearson-Glaze, IBCLC, the cradle hold can be a great choice for a large-breasted mom, if they modify the hold slightly, resting the baby on their forearm to ensure that they have one hand free to support their breast and ensure a good latch.
In the website Breastfeeding Support, Pearson-Glaze writes:
"Supporting the breast throughout a feed with your thumb above the breast and fingers below it takes the weight of the breast (often called a “C-hold” because the hand makes a C shape around the breast). This helps prevent the weight of the breast from pulling out of your baby’s mouth causing him to slip into a shallow latch or let go of the breast altogether."
According to the website Breastfeeding Basics, nursing moms with large breasts might benefit from learning to breastfeed while lying down. The site adds that this position might actually be easiest for large-breasted women to manage. If you do nurse in bed, though, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that you move your baby to a different sleeping surface for sleeping, as soon as a they are done eating, to reduce their risk of suffocation.
If your breasts are too heavy for you to support with a free hand, the Australian Breastfeeding Association suggests rolling a receiving blanket or using a pillow underneath to lift your breast up and take any weight off your baby. The International Lactation Consultant Association adds that you can also use a scarf or sling to support your breast while nursing.
Baby In Lap
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, one advantage to having large breasts is that it may make using a breastfeeding pillow unnecessary. Often baby can sit directly on your lap and latch correctly. They advise bringing your baby to your breast, rather than your breast to the baby, and ensuring a wide, deep latch by squeezing your breast like a sandwich and waiting for your baby to open wide before letting them latch.
According to Philippa Pearson-Glaze, IBCLC, "laid back" positions — where you lay back and your baby is supported by your body — have advantages for large-breasted moms, namely they flattens your breast making it easier for your baby to latch and take all of the weight of your breasts off baby. If you are large-breasted, this might be one to try for sure.
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