Feeding Positions

The other day I went to my sister’s place to see her newborn baby girl. “Oh! She is beautiful Rupa.” I exclaimed as I held the bundle in my arms. I was so engrossed in the baby that it took me sometime to realise my sister was not sounding as excited as I was. Then I noticed she looked tired and exhausted. She was sitting on the bed without any backrest and straining herself to feed the baby.

Feeding Positions

Feeding Positions [Illustration by Shinod AP]

“I have so much pain in my nipples whenever I feed the baby and at the end of the day I have a painful stiff back. I don’t know what to do. Can you suggest how I can continue feeding the baby without any pain and discomfort?”

I have seen many mothers breastfeed in odd positions, which they claim to be comfortable in. In their anxiousness to succeed, they are tense and sit in an uncomfortable position. Not only are these positions exhausting, mother could also develop sore nipples and backache in these positions.

Tips for correct positioning

  • Hold the baby flat on his back with his head turned sideways.
  • Keep your arm wide and do not pull it in tightly to the side.
  • Bring him close so that his chin touches your breast.
  • Offer him the breast but do not put it into his mouth. Make him find it. This will ensure that the breast is not pulled in your enthusiasm to feed.
  • Hold the baby’s head so that he is aligned with your body. If the baby is not close enough to the breast, he may have to suck too hard on the nipple in order to keep it in the mouth. This can damage the sensitive nipple skin and make it sore.
  • Be careful about your back. Make sure that your back is straight and has a backrest. This way you can avoid getting a backache after feeding.
  • You also have to make sure that the baby’s breathing is not obstructed in any way. Hold on to the breast with a finger while the baby is feeding so that this part of the breast does not suffocate him.Positional errors
  • Baby is too far from breast.
  • Mother leans forward and her back and shoulders are slouched as she strains to feed him.
  • Baby is held by the head, which strains the infant’s neck.
  • Baby is asleep and is not feeding.Bad feeding postions could cause:
  • Sore nipples are a result of bad feeding positions. To avoid such a situation, make sure that the baby has enough of the areola in his mouth and not only the tip of the nipple.Also avoid using soap on the nipple and wash the nipple once or twice a day only. Do not pull the nipple out of the baby’s mouth. Wait until the baby releases the nipple or break the suction with your finger. You could also use a protective cream or any edible oil, or milk cream. Make sure that the nipple does not get infected.

    While the baby is feeding from one breast, milk begins to flow from the other breast. This can be stopped by pressing the nipple with a handkerchief. The leaking will reduce gradually.