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Back Home Information Station Breastfeeding Breastfeeding Positions- The Football Hold (The Clutch Hold)

Breastfeeding Positions- The Football Hold (The Clutch Hold)

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Football Hold Breastfeeding

  • Proper positioning is key to obtaining a proper latch.  And both positioning and latch are key to effective breastfeeding. In the early days of breastfeeding, the football hold can be of great use, especially if you have had a cesarean.

    When positioning your baby in the football position, it is imperative that you watch your baby's positioning carefully. Take care to avoid pushing on baby's head. This can cause your baby's neck to be placed in severe flexion and can occlude his/her airway. Also, avoid positioning your baby too low/far away from the breast; this can cause pulling on your nipple and lead to nipple damage. 

    Keep in mind that large breasts can become very heavy if allowed to sit on baby's chest and could interfere with baby's breathing. Follow the steps below to ensure proper alignment for the football (clutch) hold:

    Place your baby at your side (the side you will be nursing from) and under your arm.
  • Support your baby’s head and neck with your hand and rest your fingers behind your baby's ears. Use your arm to clutch your baby to your side. 
  • Your baby's hip, shoulder and ear should be in alignment and hips should be flexed.
  • Turn your baby slightly sideways (towards your breast) or sitting slightly upright.
                        Booby Tubes
Booby Tubes
  • Your baby should be positioned so that his/her NOSE is positioned at your nipple and feet are behind you.
  • Use your opposite hand (the one opposite the breast you will be nursing from) 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.
    • For example, if using an upright football hold, compress the breast by making a “C” with your hand. Place your thumb on the top margin of your areola (the dark area around your nipple) and the remaining fingers should be placed under the lower margin of your areola.
    • For a baby positioned in a sideways football hold, compress the breast by making a "U" with your hand. Place your thumb on the inner side margin of your areola and the remaining fingers should be placed on the outer 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 your baby to open his/her mouth wide.
  • When your baby has opened his mouth wide and the tongue is down, quickly (and gently) bring your baby to your breast.

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