When you bring your baby home for the first time, every new activity is an adventure. From putting your newborn to bed to dressing him or her for the first time, you’ll feel wholly unprepared for every new event if it’s your first time. In particular, you’ll probably have some trouble breastfeeding at first. No matter how many techniques you read about or how many videos you watch, it simply doesn’t always go as planned. Of course, there are some women that expose their breast, pick up the baby and breastfeeding is seamlessly underway. However, you might not be so lucky, and it’s important to prepare with the proper techniques. Studies show different results for different positions, but there are a few you should try if your baby is having trouble latching initially.

The traditional position that most new moms prefer is called the cradle hold, and it involves holding your baby in the arm with the exposed breast. Your baby’s head should rest in the crook of your bent arm, and the rest of his body should be pushed against yours. Always face your baby’s body in the direction of his turned head as he suckles, or else he could have trouble swallowing. If that position doesn’t seem to be working, you could try the cross version where your baby lies in your arm opposite the exposed breast. This is the same position except his head will be in your hand and his bottom against your arm.

If you’ve delivered by cesarean section, you might find that the pressure against your abdomen in the traditional breastfeeding positions is too great. In that case, you should try the clutch hold. Your baby will be pressed against your side under your arm, and his legs will stretch behind you. You might also find that breastfeeding in a reclined or laying position works best and eases the pain of cesarean deliver. You’ll need to lie on your side and have your baby lie adjacent and facing you.

No single position works for everyone, and you’ll need to find the one that works best for you and baby. Research shows that eventually, your infant’s instincts will kick in and he’ll latch in any position so do what makes you most comfortable. Contact your doctor if too many hours go by without a proper feeding, because your baby could easily become malnourished and weak.

Source: Suzanne Colson et al: Optimal positions for the release of primitive neonatal reflexes stimulating breastfeeding. Early Human Development Volume 84 Issue 7 pp. 441-449 July 2008