Whilst breastfeeding is an amazing occurrence that often comes naturally to newborns, it can take some time to find the perfect and most comfortable position for both you and your baby. What may work for one mother and child may not be as effective for others, stressing the importance of finding the best position for you and your child. Positions that are often practiced include the cradle, cross-cradle, football, laid-back, and side lying. This article will focus on the side lying breastfeeding position, explaining how to do this method properly, and also detailing useful information in regards to breastfeeding.

Benefits of Side-Lying Breastfeeding Position and How to Do It

This method of breastfeeding is particularly useful for mothers who are recovering from a difficult birthing experience such as a cesarean birth, mothers who find sitting up too uncomfortable, and for those who are nursing their child from their beds, whether during the day or at night.

How to Do Correctly:

1. Grab two pillows and a rolled baby towel or blanket (used to support your child). Position yourself onto your side, supporting your head and back with each of the pillows.

2. Next, gently lay your child on their side and position their nose in line with the nipple of your breast that is resting on the bed.

3. Carefully pull your child's feet and bottom closer to your breast as you slightly lean back onto the pillow that's supporting your back, allowing your nipple to lift slightly off of your bed to the level of your baby’s mouth.

4. Your child should now naturally open their mouth and lean towards your breast, as this happens, you can gently push between their shoulder blades with the palm of your hand, assisting them in latching on.

5. Once your baby has latched on, position the rolled towel or blanket behind their back to support them, allowing their head the ability to tilt if necessary.

6. When performing the side lying breastfeeding position, some women like to support their child's head with their arm, whilst others prefer allowing their child's head to rest on the bed. This is entirely down to personal preference, although resting your child's head on your arm may cause them to become sweaty.

Notes: It’s Better to Try This Position When Your Baby Knows How to Latch on Properly

Due to the fact that you will have less ability to position your child's head towards your breast (when compared to other breastfeeding positions), if you are able to try other positions first then it would be wise to do so. This will allow you to establish good latching on habits between you and your child, meaning that when you try this relaxed breastfeeding method in the future, it will be far easier for your child to latch on. This method can take some practice so don't get discouraged if you are unsuccessful at first. As you continue breastfeeding your child, you will both become more experienced and everything will become easier.

Has My Baby Latched on Well?

When attempting to latch your baby to your breast, you can gently tickle their bottom lip with your nipple, encouraging them to open their mouth in a yawning motion. When they do so, push your nipple towards the top of their mouth, softly moving them towards you.

Signs That Your Child Has Latched On Properly:

  • Flanged Lips

  • Their nose is close to your breast

  • At least half an inch of the area of your breast around your nipple is within their mouth.

  • A child will usually suck without swallowing when they have latched on. Once the flow of milk is apparent, you will be able to see and hear them feeding.

  • Children will usually feed quickly at first, slowing down as their hunger becomes satisfied.

More Tips for Breastfeeding Your Baby Sideways:

  • You can place a pillow between your legs if this helps with comfortability.

  • Ensure that your child's head does not become squashed against your breast.

  • If your child has trouble latching on, you can use your free arm (that isn't resting on the bed) to guide your breast towards your child's mouth.

  • It is possible to feed from the top breast when lying on one side, though you may find it easier to switch sides when switching the breast you are feeding from. If you remain on the same side after changing breasts, ensure the first breast is well drained, to prevent a blockage in the milk ducts.

  • Always remember that breastfeeding shouldn't be painful, if you feel discomfort, detach your child and attempt the latching on process again. To detach safely, gently place your pinky finger into their mouth, you should hear a small ‘pop’ sound.

  • If your child falls asleep whilst feeding, gently roll them onto their back and ensure they are in a safe sleeping environment.

Side Lying Breastfeeding and Burping

On most occasions, many mothers will tell you that their children do not need burping after breastfeeding. When nursing from their mother’s breast, children take in less air than with bottle feeding, meaning burping is often not needed. If your child becomes fussy after doing the side lying breastfeeding position, then you can try burping them to help ease their distress, although in many instances, as your child is lying comfortably on your bed and have had their hunger satisfied, they will likely drift off to sleep.

Other Nursing Positions and Tips to Bear in Mind

  • Support Breasts – as your breasts will get bigger during lactation, it is important to support them using your fingers. Be sure to place them at least two inches away from the nipple, to ensure your child does not attempt to latch onto them.

  • Alternate Positions – Changing breastfeeding positions can help to prevent a milk duct blockage. For example, the side lying breastfeeding position may put pressure on one part of the nipple, so alternating to the cradle hold will offer respite, also helping to prevent soreness.

  • Stay Hydrated – ensuring that you remain hydrated helps in the healthy production of milk.

  • Know When to Stop – your child will usually know when they have had enough, often after they've drained both breasts. If you need to stop the feed for whatever reason, then gently remove your latched child as stated above.

The video below explains more about breastfeeding positions:


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