Back to basics: Nursing your newborn

Although the clutch ( football) hold often works best with a newborn, use the position which is most comfortable for you. Babies nurse best when they feel secure and well supported.

  • In the clutch hold, have your baby lying alongside you at breast level and use your hand to support your baby at her shoulders, rather than her head. Check to see that her body is in proper alignment.
  • For the cradle hold, your baby should be on her side, body in a straight line from ear to hip. You should both be tummy to tummy. Again, have your baby at breast level, supported by pillows if necessary. Using the C-hold with thumb above breast and rest of hand cupped below, tickle your baby's lips with your nipple and allow her to open her mouth widely, as in a yawn. Bring her quickly to your breast. If she isn't able to get a good mouthful of breast, with close to one inch of the areola, or if you are uncomfortable, gently break the suction by inserting your finger into her mouth. If necessary, calm your baby, and try again.
  • When properly positioned her nose should be resting against your breast. You do not need to press your finger down on your breast to create an airway. If you tuck your baby's body in more closely to yours, it will widen the gap a little between your breast and her nose. When positioning is correct, your nipple will be guarded from trauma and your baby will be able to best access your milk.
  • Sometimes "right" and "wrong" positioning does not look dramatically different, but it does feel different. Remember, breastfeeding should be comfortable, even during these early weeks. Pain is an indication that something is wrong.
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