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When positioning a baby at the breast for feeding, the most common position used is the cradle hold. In the early weeks of breastfeeding, this position makes it a bit more difficult to control a newborn's head at the breast. For this reason, the cross-cradle hold is often a better position to begin with in the newborn period.
Regardless of the position used during feedings, it is imperative that the baby is positioned correctly to ensure a proper latch at the breast and adequate milk transfer.
Follow these steps to correctly position your baby in the cradle hold:
- Place your baby across your stomach in a “tummy-to-tummy” position (baby’s tummy is facing your tummy).
- Place your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Your forearm should support your baby’s
neck and back and your hand will support your baby’s bottom.
- Tuck your baby’s lower arm around your waist.
- Use a pillow under your arm and your baby for support if needed.
- Your baby's hip, shoulder and ear should be in alignment.
- Be sure to position your baby so that your baby’s NOSE is directly in front of your nipple.
- Use your opposite hand to maneuver your breast.
- Compress and shape your breast to fit the size of your baby's mouth; your fingers should be parallel to baby's lips (think of when you eat a sandwich and compress the breast as you would if eating a sandwich). Be sure your fingers are not directly on your areola since this can interfere with your baby’s latch. Depending on your baby's position at the breast, a "C" hold or a "U" hold of the breast can be used.
- To compress your breast using the "C" hold, place your thumb on the top margin of your areola (the dark area around your nipple) and the remaining fingers under the lower margin of your areola.
- For the "U" hold, compress the breast by making a "U" with your hand. Place your thumb on the outer, side margin of your areola and the remaining fingers should be placed on the inner, side margin of the areola.
- Bring your baby to your breast (instead of bringing your breast to your baby) and stimulate your baby to open his/her mouth by stroking your nipple from your baby’s nose down to his/her chin. This “up-to-down” motion helps stimulate your baby to open his/her mouth wide.
- When your baby has opened his/her mouth wide and the tongue is down, quickly (and gently) bring your baby to your breast.
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| Breastfeeding - Cradle Hold|