I don't know about you but as I get up in age, I love to sit back, relax and chill out. The same method can be applied to breastfeeding immediately after delivering your baby.
There is an art to breastfeeding and that includes knowing how to hold your baby when you begin your breastfeeding journey.
The most preferred position is the biological nursing position better known as the laid back position, a non-prescriptive approach that encourages mothers to breastfeed in a semi-reclined or laid back position.
Biological nursing is a new approach that refers to a semi reclined postures and innate infant feeding behaviors. This is the ideal position mother's think of when nursing their little one.
I simply cringe when I see a new mother cradling her baby right after birth. We'll get into why later in this article.
Biological nursing is the catalyst for maternal bonding with the chemical release of the love hormone, oxytocin, when snuggling and cuddling your baby after delivery. The laid back position can be used immediately after birth to initiate The Golden Hour.
Mothers need to be comfortable.
Babies belong in an upright position,
Many mothers find this position easier and more relaxing when beginning to learn to feed their baby. Babies find this position easier too. Babies in the laid back position tend to "ground" themselves with the soles of their feet with one foot planted on the mother's body, often the thigh. (Supporting Sucking Skills, Catherine Watson Genna, pgs 109-115)
Leaning back also allows your torso to open up allowing the lap to disappear giving the baby more freedom to move and assume varying positions. When a mother leans back the location of her nipple changes too. Babies need full access to that part of the breast below the nipple. An open torso lifts the underside of the breast allowing access from any direction.
This approach to breastfeeding positioning isn’t just for the mother. Suzanne Colson, as part of her doctoral thesis, studied infant feeding reflexes and biological nurturing. She found that, beyond just rooting and sucking, there are many more innate reflexes associated with infant feeding. These include infant leg, hand, and head movements that help a baby locate and latch on deeply to the breast.
Gravity is your enemy when attempting to sit up and nurse. Attempting the cradle hold will require you to be fully awake when holding your baby.
Breastfeeding is so exhausting...
She will need to use of her arms to cuddle baby if baby feels unstable baby may begin to flail around causing a mother to believe that her baby does not want her milk. The weight of mom's breast will play a role in how baby uses their hands to move the breast to latch. Baby may become tired more quickly and not nurse as long as needed.
Dr. Colson found these movements help babies to latch if a mother was in the laid-back breastfeeding position: reclined and using gravity to hold her baby on her chest. These reflexes and innate infant latching behaviors were so powerful during laid-back breastfeeding. Read more here.
Allowing your baby to participate in his feeding is the way to go. Allowing your baby to lead the way will lead to a better breastfeeding initiation and duration. Many mothers still use this position throughout their nursing journey.
Laid-back breastfeeding, or Biological Nurturing, means getting comfortable with your baby and encouraging your own and your baby’s natural breastfeeding instincts. See biologicalnurturing.com for further information. (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th edition, pg 49.)
Dress yourself and your baby as you choose.
Find a bed or couch where you can lean back and be well supported— not flat, but comfortably leaning back so that when you put your baby on your chest, gravity will keep him in position with his body molded to yours.
Have your head and shoulders well supported. Let your baby’s whole front touch your whole front.
Since you’re leaning back, you don’t have a lap, so your baby can rest on you in any position you like. Just make sure her whole front is against you.
Let your baby’s cheek rest somewhere near your bare breast.
Help her as much as you like; help her do what she’s trying to do. You’re a team.
Hold your breast or not, as you like.
Relax and enjoy each other.
How can I help you achieve your goals today, honey.
Jada Metcalf | is a mom of two, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, Postpartum Doula, ROSE Community Transformer, IBCLC in training and a lactation and postpartum wellness business owner.
Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including the CDC (Center for Disease Control), AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), WHO ( World Health Organization), NIH (National Institute of Health), ABM (Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine)