Feb 06

Breastfeeding Techniques

Basic Positioning

Sit up straight and keep your back supported.

Bring your baby to your breast instead of hunching forward and straining your back.

Placing pillows on your lap or next to you can often help with this.

Cradle your baby in your arm. Place your palm behind your baby’s neck, fan your fingers around your baby’s head and behind the ears and use your forearm to hold/support the back.

Some common positions are the “cradle hold,” the “cross-cradle hold,” the “football hold,” and the “side lying position.

Unswaddle your baby and hold them against your bare chest. Skin-to-skin contact helps encourage breastfeeding.

Bring Baby To Breast

Bring your baby towards the breast instead of moving your breast to the baby.

This helps your baby latch better and prevents your from straining your back while breastfeeding.

Use your free hand to support your breast while feeding. Create a “C shape” around the breast a few centimeters behind the areola and compress the breast so your baby can grasp more of the breast tissue.

Aim the nipple towards the roof of your baby’s mouth to help promote a good latch.

The nipple and most of the areola (the dark ring of skin around the nipple) should be in the infant’s mouth while breastfeeding.

If the infant has only latched around the nipple, breastfeeding will not be successful.

More Feeding Pointers

Keep your baby’s head tilted slightly backwards. This helps keep the tongue naturally down so the breast slides over it easier.

It is also easier for your baby to suck and swallow during feeding in this position.

Your baby’s chin should be touching the breast and the nose will either be lightly touching or off the breast.

Tickle your baby’s lips. This helps them open their mouth wide so they are more successful at latching and feeding.

How do you know if you have a good latch? Look for some of these signs:

  • You are comfortable and there is little/no pain with feeding.
  • Your infant has latched over most of the areola.
  • Your baby’s tongue is cupped under the breast.

  • You can hear and see your baby swallowing.
  • Your baby’s chin is touching your breast.
  • A strong, coordinated suck pattern that is emptying milk from your breast.

If your infant has not latched well or if the latch is causing you discomfort, you are allowed to break the latch!

Insert your finger between your breast and your baby’s gums and wait until you hear a soft pop or feel a change in pressure.

After this occurs, you have successfully broken the seal and you can reattempt feeding.

After your child feeds on one breast, offer the other breast.

If your child is full and is not showing interest in feeding, start the next feed with the breast that was not emptied to prevent engorgement.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2016). Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum Care: Breastfeeding Your Baby [Pamphlet]. Washington, DC.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. (2011). Your Guide to Breastfeeding. [Brochure]. Washington, DC.
UC San Diego Health. Breastfeeding Guide and Logbook. [Brochure]. San Diego, CA.