- Healthy living
- Babies and toddlers
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- Getting ready to breastfeed
- How to breastfeed
- Stages of breastfeeding
- Problems with breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding in public and at work
- Expressing breast milk
- When you or baby are sick
- Baby’s health and nutrition
- Formula feeding
- Your health and nutrition
- When baby is ready for other foods
- Sex and pregnancy
- Special situations
- Supporting a breastfeeding mother
- Where to find help
- Nutrition for young children
- Food-related choking
- Fussy eating
- Introducing solids
- Keeping baby safe
- Keeping baby safe in bed
- Sick baby
- Sleep and settling
- Toilet training your child
- Vitamin D
- Your baby’s bowel motions
- Emergency management
- Environmental health
- Food and physical activity
- Sexual health
- Stop the spread of disease
- Teeth and gums
Suggestions on how to hold your baby during breastfeeding.
Hold the baby close
This may mean having to remove some blankets, or bulky clothing. (Don’t worry about them getting cold – this won’t happen if they’re held close to your body.)
Tummy to tummy and nose opposite nipple
If you can see your baby’s tummy button, they’re not turned close enough to latch well. Babies should be breastfed ‘tummy to tummy’.
Support the baby with their nose opposite the nipple – smelling the milk will help the baby to do all the right things with their mouth to achieve a latch.
It is often easier to start breastfeeding by holding the baby in the cross-cradle position. This means the baby’s head is supported with your hand at the base of their neck.
For example, if feeding your baby on the left breast, hold them with your right arm, supporting their body with your right hand at the base of their neck. Use your left-hand thumb to gently pull the nipple upwards so it is point toward the baby’s nose.
If you have larger breasts, you can support your breast with your left hand – just make sure your fingers are well away from the areola. The baby might not be able to latch if there’s a finger in a way.
Baby’s natural head tilt
The position of your hand is important as the baby needs to be able to put their head back slightly.
Babies do this little head tilt by themselves as it helps them come to the breast with the chin first – rather than being squashed into the breast with the nose and chin together.
Make sure your arm or hand is not behind the baby’s head, or they might not be able to do it.
Adjusting to a cradle hold
Once baby is latched well, you can adjust your position to a cradle hold, which might be more comfortable.
Release your hold on your breast (unless it is very heavy and full, in which case you may need to support it during the feed – see the underarm/rugby hold) and move your arm gently around the baby.
Using a lying-down position or the underarm or rugby hold can be useful if you’ve undergone a caesarean.
The underarm or rugby hold can also be useful if your breasts are heavy, as the weight is partially supported by the baby.
When you’re more comfortable with breastfeeding you can move from the cross-cradle to a cradle position right from the beginning of a feed.
View the slideshow on Breastfeeding positions on the Mayo Clinic website.
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Available from HealthEd in English and five other languages.
New Zealand College of Midwives
The professional organisation for New Zealand midwives.
La Leche League
The website of the New Zealand branch of the La Leche League, an international organisation who promote breastfeeding.