Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Baby While Lying on Your Side

For my fellow breastfeeding moms, you’ve likely discovered that there are quite a few positions you can get into for breastfeeding your sweet baby.

The cradle and the football hold are some of the more active ones. Some moms really find those to be comfortable and successful for latching. I had one friend urge me to get a nursing pillow to help me, but I was living abroad and there were no suitable options at the time.

Because I had c-sections for both births, I found my favorite position to be side-lying. In the hospital, I’d tried laid-back but for my personal comfort, the side-lying seemed to work for me and both of my girls. They never really ever wanted to be cradled or held like a football, but those are my kids. Every mom friend of mine has a different story to tell.

I want to tell you about side-lying breastfeeding because this position is great and can take a lot of stress off you while you’re nursing so you can feel comfortable. And when you’re comfortable, that milk lets down easily, making nursing a happy experience for you both. These may be most comfortable for you in the beginning, especially if you had a c-section like me.

How Do You Nurse Side Lying?

Young mother breastfeeds her baby, holding him in her arms

What I love about this position is that it’s so easy. Once you know how to latch your baby properly, any position is easy. You simply lie down on your bed with the baby next to you.

Make sure there’s no danger she’ll fall off the side. Keep your nipple in line with her mouth and have her latch on. That’s it!

Have you heard that side-lying breastfeeding causes ear infections?

This is the case for babies with formula in a bottle that drink it while lying down. Breastmilk prevents bacteria that would get built up in the ear as they lie down and drink, but nothing has been shown for breastfed babies. So relax, Mom! Enjoy a little rest while your baby gets her nourishment.

Another thing new moms worry about with side-lying is the issue of gas. Some moms report gassier babies when nursing through this position but some do not. My best advice is to gently lift her up when she’s done and pat her to help settle out the gas.

Both of my daughters slept with us in the bed, not at once obviously, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages this for your safety and this ruling came out after my kids were done with nursing, so I encourage you to listen to them. Instead, I think you should do the next best thing.

Here’s another version:

Another variation of side-lying is simply turning that upside down. Known as the inverted side-lying position, it’s very comfortable for you and your baby. Essentially, you’ll perform the side-lying position but have the baby’s feet by your head. It can take the pressure off tender breasts, or if your little one is a squirmy thing, you can keep her from repeatedly kicking your incision area and make both of you happy at once!

How to Sleep with Your Baby

Again, I have to enthuse myself for just how much I loved side-lying breastfeeding with my girls. It was comfortable and I could sleep or read and they both nursed a lot, making them really strong and healthy. Sleeping next to them was a wonderful experience. Every once in a while, they climb into our bed with us and we all cuddle up. They’re much bigger now of course.

Make side lying position a better and safer one

For those of you that want to sleep with a baby near, I have some safer options. After all, no one wants to have to trip over things in the dark running to the baby’s room.

And as my husband and I learned with our first, she didn’t want to be alone in her room. We pushed her crib into our room. I could get her to sleep there sometimes but she’d inevitably wake up and wind up in bed with us, nursing away.

You can solve this by getting a bassinet to keep next to your bed. You can even use a little play yard if you need to since this phase won’t last forever. This will greatly reduce the chances of SIDS.

Another more modern option I wished I’d had at the time is to get an attachable bassinet that connects to your bed so the baby stays safe but right up close for easy access to side-lying breastfeeding.

Is Side-Lying Breastfeeding Safe?

Yes, it is. La Leche League has it on their website and my own breastfeeding coach recommended it to me too when she came to see us in the hospital. She was amazing for helping us get latched in the first place and honestly, that is what is most important.

Speaking of positions, she also helped me get into a laid-back breastfeeding position (which I talk about in another post) right after my c-section when I was still all loopy from the drugs they gave me. Once I was more alert, the side-lying, or recumbent position as it’s medically known was the one I favored.

Give it a try and see how it works for you and your baby!

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