Do you struggle with breastfeeding positions?
I bet you’re all fingers and thumbs, flailing baby arms and unable to see if your baby is latched correctly.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just lie back and relax during a feed?
Well, you can actually.
The answer is laid back breastfeeding, or ‘biological nurturing’ if you want its Sunday name.
Although Laid back breastfeeding is technically a breastfeeding position, it’s so much more than that. It’s thought to be the most natural way to breastfeed your baby. Leading breastfeeding expert Dr. Suzanne Colson would argue it’s the best nursing position.
It is, in fact, one of the most uncommon positions taught during breastfeeding classes or by nurses.
Laid back breastfeeding offers so many benefits to you and baby. If you don’t want to miss out check out why it may be the best breastfeeding position for you.
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16 Benefits of Laid Back Breastfeeding
1. Vaginal delivery
After a normal, forceps or ventouse vaginal delivery you’ll be feeling sore and swollen down below. You may even have had a tear or episiotomy with stitches.
All that Pushing can often mean develop hemorrhoids after birth. All together it makes for a very sore bottom.
The great thing about laid back breastfeeding is that it takes the pressure off your vagina when resting. Your body is rested onto your butt, which provides a lot more cushioning and relief when feeding.
2. C-section Mama’s
Whether it’s planned or emergency, you’re probably worried how you’ll manage to breastfeed after a C-section. Laid back breastfeeding is ideal if you have had a C-section.
Often nurses will position you onto your side to make breastfeeding in recovery a lot easier. However, it can be a nightmare when you have lots of IV drips running and a blood pressure cuff on. Laid back breastfeeding is the ideal position as you don’t need your arms to hold onto your baby.
Once your anesthetic block wears off, it may be too uncomfortable to rest your body weight on your side or leaning baby over your wound. Laid back breastfeeding avoids both of these situations.
3. Fast Let Down
If your baby often chokes, splutters, clamps down or pull away during a feed, you probably have a fast let-down reflex.
It simply means you milk flows out quicker than your baby can drink.
Laid back breastfeeding can help by working against gravity to slow the flow. As your baby’s head is placed above the nipple, the milk can’t pour into their mouth. Your baby has control over the amount of milk they can swallow.
If your baby feels they need to pull away quickly, there is no resistance on their head.
Being a new mom and breastfeeding is exhausting, especially in the first few weeks. You’ll probably notice you feel extra sleepy when breastfeeding. This is the action of the hormone oxytocin.
Laid back breastfeeding is a great way to take advantage of the sleepy sensation you feel. You’ll be in a comfortable position, so take the opportunity to and relax whilst baby feeds.
The more relaxed you feel during a feed, the more milk you will signal your body to make.
Note: Always make sure you have another person around if you do this. This ensures your baby is safe from the risk of accidental suffocation if you are on a couch or around a lot of pillows.
5. Less Position Pain
A big drawback of most common feeding positions is poor posture. You probably contort yourself into all shapes to get baby to latch on. Then you have to sit that way until baby is finished feeding.
You’ve probably already noticed your arms, back, neck and shoulders always hurt.
Laid back breastfeeding takes the pressure off all of these areas. Just make sure you have plenty of support from the surface or pillows.
If you feel uncomfortable when lying back, simply adjust yourself until you get a spot that works right for you. A simple change of baby’s position or your recline can make a big difference to your comfort.
6. Large breasts
Having large heavy breast can make breastfeeding a small newborn difficult in traditional positions.
Laid back feeding keeps the weight of your breast off your baby’s head. It also makes it so much easier for you to see what baby is doing.
Your nipple is more likely to tilt upwards with laid back nursing. As gravity isn’t pulling it downwards, you’ll need less breast support and it will help baby to latch on better.
7. Stimulate baby
Your baby is born with 20 reflexes that encourage them to naturally breastfeed without ‘learning’.
The rooting, sucking and Babkin reflex can all be stimulated by you with simple touch and skin contact. It will come naturally to you to want to stoke your baby.
When your baby feeds on their tummy it stimulates all of these reflexes. Laid back breastfeeding is the only position where you baby is truly on their tummy.
Stimulating these reflexes helps your baby to be a ‘natural’ at breastfeeding from the beginning.
8. Improves bonding
You’ve probably already heard how important skin to skin contact is for baby.
There are so many benefits including improved milk supply, temperature control, and calmer baby.
The reason: Oxytocin. Yes, that hormone again.
Oxytocin is responsible for creating a strong bond between mom and baby. The more oxytocin your baby is exposed to, the better their brain develops. Your baby will cope better with stress and learn to communicate with people from your interactions.
9. Responsive feeding
Learning how to read your baby’s feeding cues is vital to being responsive to their needs. It will help you to be instinctive with your baby.
Your baby will give off subtle clues to communicate their needs with you. If you are aware of what these signs mean, you will know what they want.
Laid back breastfeeding is excellent for calming a fussy, crying baby before they feed. This is a late hunger cue. The skin to skin contact, touch, stroking and cuddling of laid back feeding, all helps to calm baby before feeding.
10. Improve latch
The latch or ‘attachment’ your baby’s mouth has to your breast will affect how well they feed.
A poor latch can cause nipple pain, low milk intake, and slow weight gain.
You can learn how to get a good latch here. Combine these steps with laid back breastfeeding and you will get a good attachment. Gravity will naturally pull baby toward your breast, rather than you pulling toward your baby.
The laid back position also keeps baby attached rather than slipping back which is common with traditional positions.
11. Less nipple pain
Laid back breastfeeding improves your baby’s chances of a perfect asymmetric latch.
In this position, the nipple is tilted to the right angle and far enough into the mouth. This means baby uses the main part of the tongue in a soft wave motion over the nipple. A short latch means more friction on the nipples and therefore more pain.
Women who use the laid back breastfeeding position are found to have less nipple pain, bleeding, cracks or blisters.
This also makes it easier to identify babies who have other feeding issues which cause nipple pain.
12. The first feed
You’ve probably heard of the golden hour after birth. It’s the perfect time to start breastfeeding in the laid back position.
You will be exhausted after birth, so lying back and having skin to skin with baby will help you relax. Place baby on your chest and they will start to crawl toward your breast and naturally latch on.
This gives you time to get to grips with laid back breastfeeding. Hospital beds have electric controls and perfect for an easy recline.
13. Late Preterm Baby
Preterm babies often have issues with feeding because of their immature reflexes.
Skin to skin or Kangaroo care is very beneficial to preterm babies. It helps them develop their feeding behaviors. The more skin to skin you can have with your preterm the quicker they will learn to feed.
If you get the opportunity to put your preterm to the breast to feed, opt for a laid back position. It increases the skin to skin you’ll have with your baby, plus stimulate all those essential developing feeding reflexes.
This position may also help you feel more relaxed about holding your tiny, uncoordinated baby to breastfeed.
14. Breast aversion
Sometimes your baby just won’t want to nurse.
This may be due to fast let down, traumatic birth, medical reasons or no cause at all.
Laid back breastfeeding can transaction your baby from the gentle skin to skin to attempting to breastfeed.
Its instinct for a baby to want to feed. However, certain positions may make this painful or uncomfortable for them. Laid back feeding is a great alternative to traditional positions that aren’t working for your baby.
Your baby calls the shots with laid back nursing. This means no forcing babies head toward the breast. Let them do most of the work and only give them a little help when they need it.
15. Reflux and colic
Most babies will have some degree of reflux or colic in the first month.
This can make it difficult for them to feed and keep milk down. Feeding can make them vomit, irritable or inconsolable.
The skin to skin will help to calm baby before a feed. The reclined angle and gravity can help baby digest the milk better.
Again because your baby can control the milk floe it may help improve their symptoms.
Once a feed is finished keep handling to a minimum but try to keep your baby upright. Holding baby skin to skin and slowly sit more upright when the feed finishes.
16. Unclog blocked ducts
You see in the next section just how to position baby for laid back feeding. Think of your breast as a clock and laid back feeding can have baby’s body positioned at any hour.
Babies often prefer a position which they were in in the womb.
Since your breast is made up of ‘segment’ they can become blocked at any time. You can then nurse your baby in a position which empties the blocked segment.
This means you and baby can work together to resolve breastfeeding issues, without needing resort to expressing or giving up.
How to do Laid Back Breastfeeding
The beauty of laid back breastfeeding is that it doesn’t require much learning. Unlike upright positions when you need to control a tiny, uncoordinated baby.
In fact, the laid back position can be tailored to suit your body shape or situation. It’s best to use trial and error to find what feels right for you and your baby.
The idea is to get comfortable and for you and baby’s natural breastfeeding instincts to work together.
These are the basics of the position
Dress in comfortable clothing with easy access to the breast. You may want to strip baby to their diaper for the maximum skin to skin contact.
Choose a spot whether you can lean back. A bed, reclining chair or sofa are great options. You want a place that keeps you upright enough to maintain eye contact with baby.
Make sure you have lots of support. If you need more support use pillows to prop you up to the desired level. Your neck and shoulders need the most support.
The angle you lean back can be adjusted so that when your baby is on you they are supported without you needing to hold them. Are you comfortable and supported enough to stay there for up to an hour?
Position your baby with their front onto your body. Gravity should keep them in position without slipping down or to the side.
The direction baby lies in can be tummy to tummy, over the shoulder, cross cradle or on the side (see picture below). Pretty much 360⁰ around the breast, apart from baby lying on your head!
Your baby’s cheek should rest near your breast. They will naturally turn toward the nipple.
(Source: Nancy Mohrbacher)
Follow your instincts
Your baby will have natural reflexes to show them what to do. If your body is telling you to help them do it. You’ll naturally want to stroke and touch your baby.
You can use a breast hold if you find it helps baby to latch easier.
Observe baby through the feed, for signs they are feeding well or full.