You're comfortably seated with pillows in place. You're holding your baby in your arms in your preferred breastfeeding position. Now it's time to make sure your baby's body and head are positioned in such a way to make latching on and feeding as easy and efficient as possible. While it might seem like a lot of steps to remember right now, don't worry—we guarantee that soon this practice will become second nature.
In all of the breastfeeding holds—cross-cradle, football, cradle—it's important for you to support your baby's whole body. It's just as important to make sure your baby's body is in a straight line with his head. Think about how awkward it would be for you to drink a glass of water with your neck twisted and your head turned to one side; the same is true when your baby is breastfeeding.
Newborns don't like having the back of their heads pushed. In fact, they can get agitated if that happens. So it's really important to hold your baby's head gently yet firmly enough to provide good support.
Position your hand as if you are about to shake hands with someone, but with your palm slightly more cupped and supportive. Your thumb and forefinger should be on or behind each of your baby's ears. This depends, of course, on the size of your hand and your baby's head.Your baby's head should rest in the "V" of your hand, while your palm should support his shoulder blades.
The best way to learn how your baby's head should be positioned at your breast is to imagine drinking a full glass of water: your head is tilted back and your neck and throat are open. The angle at which you're drinking from the glass is the angle at which your baby's head should be at your breast. Keep in mind that his head should be in a straight line with is body.
Line up your baby's nose with your nipple, not mouth to nipple. This is so your baby will come to your breast at the correct angle.Your baby's head and neck should be tilted slightly back at a comfortable angle. Make sure your baby's head isn't bent down toward his chest. This not only makes drinking from your breast difficult but also makes swallowing almost impossible.
Your baby is now in the optimal position to breastfeed. Learning how to position yourself will help you achieve a good latch.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)