Breastfeeding

The Best Breastfeeding Positions For Large Breasts

Because it’s not exactly easy.

Updated: 
Originally Published: 

“Breast is best.” That’s all I heard when I was pregnant with my twins, so I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I’d watched my older sister lovingly nurse my niece and it seemed easy enough, but what was simple for my sister was my nightmare. It took a full five days for my milk to come in and when it did my breasts grew to what felt like an unnatural size (and I’ve always had larger breasts). I needed breastfeeding positions for large breasts, because I had such a strong letdown that my babies would spit it up, and I didn’t feel like I could do anything right. At the time I didn’t know all of the positions to choose from that can make your experience better. It’s important to understand that breastfeeding is definitely not a one-size-fits-all experience, especially when it comes to breast size.

“I find that for parents with very large breasts, positioning a newborn and the breast at the same time can be overwhelming; it can feel like you need five hands,” Jess Willis, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and the owner of Sunshine Lactation in Jacksonville, Florida, tells Romper. She says mothers with large breasts should “try many positions, get creative, grab some couch pillows, try some rolled blankets; props are your friend when you are learning to feed your baby with an abundance of breast. You can even try rolling a small towel or blanket, and tucking it under your breast, to help lift the breast a bit to see the nipple while latching.”

Proper latch ensures that babies are getting a good portion of the areola into their mouths, it prevents nipple pain, and also ensures that they are able to transfer milk effectively.

Finding what works 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.

1

Football Hold

Willis says that the "football hold" is frequently taught to large-breasted moms at the hospital. In this position, the baby's body is tucked under your arm like a football, and they are facing you. Having something supporting your breast like a pillow, rolled towel, or a rolled receiving blanket will help you find a way to take breaks so you don’t get exhausted. “This position can be helpful, as it allows parents to visualize the latch, and place the nipple into baby's mouth, but this can also result in shallow latching, as very often baby's chin tucks into their chest in this position,” Willis says. If this happens, she says to try another position that can deepen the latch.

2

Cradle Hold

“Cradle hold is pretty common for nursing newborns,” says Krystal Duhaney, RN, IBCLC and founder of Milky Mama. And many other breastfeeding resources suggest this as a first hold to try when breastfeeding your newborn. But the cradle hold can also 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.

3

Side Lying

“I find that the Side-Lying is often the most comfortable position for large-breasted parents,” says Willis. Mom lies down and lays the baby next to her, bringing them to the bottom of her breast to latch the nipple. “With a pillow placed behind the lower back, or between the knees, and a rolled blanket behind the baby's back, parents can feel supported and comfortable while working on breastfeeding together,” she says.

If you choose to nurse in bed, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that you move your baby to a different surface for sleeping as soon as they are done eating, to reduce their risk of SIDS.

4

Supported Breast

If your breasts are too heavy for you to support with a free hand, Duhaney suggests rolling a receiving blanket or using a pillow underneath to lift your breast up and take any weight off your baby. “You can also create a sling from a scarf by putting it under your breast and tying it behind your neck. So it’s basically like a hammock and you can feed your baby hands-free,” she tells Romper. Duhaney adds that this method can be used with any position, just make sure it’s secure so it doesn’t affect your baby’s airway.

5

Baby In Lap

The Australian Breastfeeding Association noted that one advantage to having large breasts is that it may make using a breastfeeding pillow unnecessary. Often your 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.

6

Laid Back

Duhaney says the “laid back” position, which is also referred to as “biological nurturing,” can relieve pressure for both mommy and baby. You lay on your back and your baby is supported by your body. This position is considered biological because it is used by animals in nature. “Your baby will tend to latch on naturally without having to manipulate the breasts.” Duhaney adds that by instinct, babies will turn their head so they aren’t face down in your breast. The advantages for large-breasted moms is this position flattens your breast, making it easier for your baby to latch taking the weight of your breasts off your baby. “Large breasts don’t automatically mean you have a large let-down, but if you do, this will make your milk release more steady for your baby because your milk isn't fighting gravity,” says Duhaney.

7

Cross-Cradle Hold

Cross-cradle hold is the same but opposite of the cradle hold,” says Duhaney. “In this position you support the back of your baby’s head with your hand while your forearm supports their back. Their bum is resting in the crook of your arm. You then position your baby across your body to feed on the opposite breast from the arm you’re using, so that your arm on the nursing side is free to adjust your breast or your baby's latch giving you more control.” Duhaney suggests that this position is best for new moms or moms who are working on getting their baby to latch because it allows you to have a really good hold on your baby and you can easily position them.