I have to admit; I feel a bit lost when it’s not football season. I honestly can’t stand when the weather gets hot, and to me, when football comes back around, it’s the first benchmark toward unpacking my cozy sweaters. But it can be football season year-round when you’re a breastfeeding mom when you use the football hold.
Also called the clutch hold, this is an upright position you can use to nurse your baby. I’ve talked before about how I loved the side-lying position best, but when both my daughters were small, and we were outside of the house, I used the football hold to feed them.
In our early days with our eldest (who just had her 8th birthday!), I was still smarting pretty bad from the c-section. We went out with some friends a few weeks later to grab some dinner at an Italian restaurant, which helped me to feel somewhat less homesick while living abroad. Sure enough, she woke up hungry so I was able to use the clutch breastfeeding position to feed her comfortably while we enjoyed our meal.
At home, I’d always go back to side-lying, but on the go, I favored the football hold breastfeeding position. It has some great benefits for you and baby.
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Why You Should Use the Football Hold Breastfeeding Position
If you’re like me and you find the best comfort breastfeeding by side-lying, you may start to panic when it’s time to leave the house. You can’t exactly lie down at the library, Target, the supermarket, in a restaurant…you get the idea. So using the clutch hold is suitable for people like us because it makes it easy to hold the baby comfortably while sitting up.
You’ve had a c-section
And me, I’ve had 2 of them. I know the after-pain that comes with it. And if your husband is a bit of a comedian like mine is, then I know how much more you ache from laughing until you feel like you’re going to split. Because you’re holding your baby along the side instead of along the area of your incision, it’s so much more comfortable.
Double the trouble
My friends with twins are my heroes. I can’t imagine having two babies at the same time. Are you the mom of twins? I bow to you. Seriously. My breastfeeding coach, Vivien, is the mom of twin boys. She always told me she would use the football hold for nursing both of them at the same time because it was the most comfortable for all of them.
Your breasts may do better with it
I had small boobs until I had kids. Now that I’ve finished breastfeeding, they normalized, but they’re still larger than the B-cup I always had. Larger breasts tend to bode better in the clutch hold because it’s easier to position your baby. Additionally, if you have flat or inverted nipples (I just wrote about that recently…check it out here!), this position will be much easier for you.
Do you have lots of milk that seem to flow out strongly? The clutch hold is excellent for a forceful let-down. It uses gravity to help the baby get what he needs.
Better for baby’s digestion
If you’ve found that your baby gets gassy or has reflux issues, the football hold breastfeeding position could be one of the most comfortable solutions to solving digestive problems as it allows their sweet baby heads to be slightly elevated.
I liked using the clutch hold, but I was always happier lying down. The reason? I didn’t have to strain my shoulders, neck, and back holding the baby. I’d find I was hunching over. My friend Katie who has three kids suggested I get a Boppy. It’s a breastfeeding pillow that makes upright positions like the football hold easier on you.
In China though, there was no Boppy, at least not at the time. I decided to improvise by wadding up my extra blankets in my diaper bag to serve as a bit of a pillow while on the go. This proved incredibly relieving for me when I’d use the football hold for my girls.
How to Properly Hold Your Baby Like a Football for Breastfeeding
And now, you’re likely wondering how you hold a baby like a football. Please don’t get overzealous and spike the ball. Basically, you’re cradling the baby to your side, under your arm, like your favorite quarterback does when running in for that touchdown.
The best part is you don’t have to do any running. You simply hold your baby.
To start, sit down with your baby in your lap, holding his head in your hand. His back should go along your arm next to you. If you feel like you’re hunching over or need extra support for his weight, place a pillow (or even blankets like I did) to raise him to the right height.
Next, grab your breast with a “C” grasp while your baby faces you, mouth at the same height as your nipples. Keep your baby’s feet and legs tucked under your arm, so the bottoms of his feet are facing toward the ceiling. By doing this, you’ll avoid him pushing against your chair or kicking anything else that might be within leg-reach.
Pillow or not, you should make sure you’re supporting your baby’s head at all times. As with any position too, you should ensure you get a good latch. It might be helpful to read what I wrote on that. A good latch makes all the difference!
Are you ready to try the football hold with your baby? See what you think! Still pregnant and just reading up? It might help to take a doll or stuffed animal that is roughly the size of a newborn and practice holding it this way so that when the time comes, you’ll have the perfect grip!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.