I recently told you about my favorite breastfeeding position when my girls were nursing, the side-lying position. It was the one I used most often, but I am grateful for the laid-back position my breastfeeding coach showed me.
It made it easy for me to get a good latch with my first, and even though my coach had moved away by the time I had my second, I knew how to work through nursing problems and get her latched right because of what she’d taught me.
That first time nursing my first daughter in the hospital, still groggy from whatever they’d drugged me with for the c-section, I wasn’t sure how to do anything, and I was so sore. I really appreciated the assistance, and once I was in this position, it was so easy to nurse. I hope it helps you too.
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How to Do the Laid-Back Breastfeeding Position
Laid-back breastfeeding, also called biological nurturing, is a very comfortable position that plays on your own natural breastfeeding instincts and those of your baby to nurse. You don’t need to be fully on your back, but for some moms, this has worked for them. My friend Amanda had trouble on her side but her ridiculously large breasts and the baby were happier when she breastfed while laying on her back.
To that, I say just be careful about clogged ducts. If in any position you notice them, take care of them immediately with some helpful medical tips that will bring you relief.
For the rest of you, laid-back breastfeeding involves a laid-back, relaxed approach. It’s a little more alert than side-lying as you’ll prop yourself up either on your couch or bed with some pillows. Then you lean back like you’re getting ready for Netflix and chill.
Next, you place the baby on your chest and let her gravity mold her to you. The only thing you should be sure of is that her cheek is resting near your breast so she can get a good latch.
What’s nice in this position is you don’t really have a lap so your baby kind of sticks to you, allowing her to be in any position she likes too.
Remember, comfort is important for you both. If you’re uncomfortable, your baby will sense it. And your milk will be harder for her to get, which will cause her to get cranky. You have no idea until you’ve had a cranky baby pounding on your breasts for more milk.
Now, if you recall, I talked about a good latch. It’s critical for any position. I think that deserves its very own section, don’t you?
How Do I Do This Latch Thing Right?
With side-lying, laid-back, or any other breastfeeding position, the most important part is getting your baby latched on just right. If she’s not on there properly, she won’t be getting the milk which will keep her hungry and if not tended to quickly, will lower your milk supply. Not good!
This is why I strongly suggest you get with a lactation consultant or have a nurse at the hospital help you while you’re there. Once you get the latch, you’ll always get it right from there. Knowing how it feels when your baby is latched just right will make all the difference for any position you choose.
Another thing to be sure of is if your baby is hungry. It’s a little mystifying those first few weeks, but look for fidgeting and fussing or sucking on their own lips or tongue. Crying is a late hunger cue and may make it more difficult to get into position if you haven’t mastered the latch.
Here are the steps you can take to get that latch:
- Keep baby’s tummy against your tummy. In fact, in those early days, skin-to-skin contact is so important for building that bond. It helps calm your baby, too, and makes latching much easier.
- Don’t lean into your baby. You’re doing it wrong if you’re leaning toward her in any position. You can cause strain on your shoulders and neck plus it can affect her position, which will make it hard for her to swallow.
- Keep her nose opposite from your nipple. You may need to hold your breast and guide your nipple to her mouth. Grab it on both sides of the breast in a C-hold or a U-hold from above or below. Whatever works! Just keep your fingers away from the nipple, or she may try to latch onto them instead.
- Point your nipple at your baby’s upper lip, not the middle of her mouth. You can rub your nipple on that upper lip, and she should open her mouth. Keep her chin off her chest.
- When she opens up wide, she should latch right on. If not, don’t shove it in there. Instead, move slightly back, repeat the lip-tickling step, and wait for her to open up wide.
- Make sure you get as much of the lower part of your nipple (called the areola) into her mouth. Her chin should push into the lower portion of your nursing breast.
The result is that she’ll look a bit like she has fish lips. If she doesn’t, use your clean finger to help pull the bottom lip down and open her mouth more to get her set just right.
Signs of a Good Latch
Did you do it right? Well, there are some things you can look for when your baby is suckling to be sure she’s on there good and getting all that nutritious breastmilk.
Check for the following:
- Wiggling ears
- Circular movement of the jaw
- Rounded cheeks
- No clicking or smacking sounds
- Audible sounds of swallowing
- Visible tongue when you pull down her bottom lip
- Chin against your breast
- No discomfort to you
Your nipple should never look flat or misshapen in any way after nursing. It should never be uncomfortable for you, either. If it is, you might want to look into whether or not she’s getting a good latch. Other signs you’ll notice on your own breasts will be cracked or sore nipples, so treat those with a good nipple cream for relief.
If she’s eaten properly, she’ll likely fall off the breast, look sleepy, or even just fall asleep. And likely, you might just do the same.
It’s exhausting to be a new mom but worth it. Yes, you’ll eventually sleep again. And no, you won’t always be a boob-slave, as I called it in my nursing days. Your baby needs you more now than she ever will, so enjoy these precious moments and be her primary source of nutrition.
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.