How to properly breastfeed a newborn while lying down

Nowadays, many women who decide to breastfeed want to organize this process naturally. The Soviet “regime” method, in which the breast was given to the child and taken away from him in hours and minutes, is no longer popular. Now the rule is: “the baby should suck as often and for as long as he wants.” However, with this approach, mothers discover even in the maternity hospital that the newborn can be on the chest almost constantly, even during sleep. After a few months, the mother will have some freedom, but for a long time feeding will remain a significant part of her day. These hours should not be a painful duty, but a time of pleasure, joy and peace. To make this happen, the collective female mind came up with various positions for breastfeeding. Using them, the mother will be able not only to give her child the best, but also to relax or have fun, and, if necessary, solve problems with lactation.

feeding positions

Proper feeding while lying down

comfort and togetherness

Many women experiencing motherhood for the first time are afraid to transition to breastfeeding while lying down, particularly at night. If you can keep an eye on your baby in the morning or during the day, then at night during sleep there is a high risk of not being able to see and causing harm to him. To prevent tragic consequences, it is enough to adhere to some simple rules, which will be discussed below.

First, it’s worth understanding what proper breastfeeding while lying down is. In this position, it is comfortable not only for the mother, but also for the child; the baby’s nipple is properly grasped, and it is at a safe distance from the edge of the bed. These seemingly clear rules for everyone need to be refreshed in memory before the breastfeeding stage begins.

All new mothers are faced with a lot of things that need to be done in between feedings, and at the right time, attentiveness can simply fail them. It is during such periods that various incidents occur, which are then attributed to fatigue. For example, a child rolls out of bed and gets hurt. This can be avoided if you secure the area around the child in advance.

Feeding positions: why it is so important to know about them

Several decades ago, when young mothers practiced feeding “by the hour,” they were offered the only correct position: the woman sat on the bed with a chair under her leg. Doctors assured that in this position the outflow of milk was better, which reduced the risk of developing congestive processes in the breast.

Despite the fact that this position is not the most convenient for a woman’s body, exhausted by pregnancy and childbirth, it was extremely popular. After all, feeding time was also regulated back then and did not exceed 15–20 minutes, thanks to which the mother practically did not get tired.

Today, this approach to feeding is considered ineffective. Pediatricians replaced it with feeding on demand, mentioning that in this case the mother is not in danger of developing lactostasis if she:

  • practices frequent application;
  • regularly changes breasts and feeding position;
  • Provides free placement of the breast without supporting it when the baby is full.

Important! When choosing a position for feeding, you need to focus only on your feelings. A woman, like a child, should be comfortable and comfortable, then the process will bring a lot of pleasure to both.

The abundance of poses also allows you to prevent several postpartum problems at once, namely:

  • Get rid of chronic fatigue. Bearing a fetus, giving birth, as well as subsequent care of the baby, associated with constant lack of sleep, is a huge stress for the body. In the first days, he successfully copes with it thanks to the increased production of endorphins. Over time, when hormonal levels stabilize, their synthesis slows down, and the consequences of sleepless nights become increasingly apparent. Getting enough sleep helps get rid of them. The easiest way to organize it is in conditions of breastfeeding on demand. During feeding periods, the mother can take a nap with the baby, thereby gaining strength.

  • Manifestation of pain. Caesarean section, as well as natural childbirth ending in episiotomy, or dissection of the perineum, leave an imprint on the lifestyle of a young mother. She is not allowed to sit or put any weight on her stomach. In such conditions, a competent choice of feeding positions will help, in which she not only rests, but also recovers.
  • Development of lactostasis. The habit of using the only comfortable position for feeding for many women ends in stagnation of milk, which is accompanied by pain and fever. Frequent changes of positions help to avoid it, thanks to which all areas of the mammary gland are well released.

Note! If lactostasis occurs, which is manifested by the presence of lumps in the breast, feeding should be organized in such a way that the baby’s chin is directed towards the lump during the process. Thus, the latter will resolve faster.

What not to do

side feeding

Some doctors scare women by not recommending breastfeeding while lying down. This is explained by the fact that the mother can crush the baby in his sleep or accidentally cover him with a thick blanket, and he will suffocate. Such terrible cases, unfortunately, do occur. But still, you should always remember about safety measures, and then there are no prohibitions. Is it possible to breastfeed a newborn baby while lying down? Yes. At the same time, you should not put it between yourself and your spouse, who actively tosses and turns in his sleep. You should also not sleep with your child and husband who is sick. It can infect him, since the source of infection is in close proximity.

It is not at all necessary to sleep with the light on; to feed and control the baby’s actions, you can monitor your baby by turning on a night light with warm light. If your child’s peace of mind depends on sleeping together, then you should not try to teach him to sleep separately in a crib when he cries. Not all children sleep in their crib after feeding. It is much easier for mom to feed him and leave him nearby than to try to move him. In a word, if a child sleeps well next to you, but as soon as you put him in the crib, tears and screams begin, it is better to leave everything as it is. This way, mom will have time to do her business or just sleep together.

How to understand what your baby is eating

side feeding

In the maternity hospital they explain how to put a baby to the breast, once. What to do if everything seems clear, but in reality the child eats incorrectly? How can you tell if your baby has taken the breast correctly while lying down while breastfeeding? The main rule is that mom should be comfortable. Since breastfeeding takes a long time, you may have to spend half an hour or more in this position. Hands and chest should be clean. It is necessary to squeeze the nipple, giving it the correct shape, convenient for gripping. This is a kind of maternal gesture, which means that the mother offers the breast to the baby and helps him.

A woman should make sure that during proper breastfeeding while lying down, the baby does not make slurping sounds, there are no bubbles of milk and it does not flow into his nose. It is also worth making sure that the lower lip is turned outward and the lips are wrapped around the nipple areola. It is in this position that proper sucking occurs and the child does not take in excess air, which subsequently becomes the cause of bloating and colic.

Some pediatricians protest against this position, considering it a prerequisite for the development of otitis media or a runny nose in an infant in the future. These are prejudices that are not justified either from a practical or scientific point of view. Moreover, no matter what position the woman is feeding, the baby will still be in a lying position. The fact is that when the baby is breastfed, when sucking, the epiglottis separates the esophagus and oral cavity from the respiratory tract. That is why the baby can eat and sleep at the same time in his sleep.

This cannot be said about artificial feeding, even taking into account the use of an anatomically similar nipple to the female nipple. During bottle feeding, the epiglottis does not separate the oral cavity from the respiratory tract. Therefore, it is extremely important not to leave your baby alone with a bottle, especially if he has fallen asleep.

Soft spoon

It is a variation of a regular spoon, but has a significant difference, because it is designed for the most convenient feeding in this way. This spoon not only has soft edges for minimal damage to the baby’s mouth (it also feels more pleasant than an iron spoon), but also has a milk dispenser so you don’t have to draw milk every time.

Suitable for: All children whose mothers cannot breastfeed and bottle-feed for some reason. Also for premature babies with a poorly developed sucking reflex.

Advantages: Very simple and effective compared to other methods. The child, as a rule, does not refuse this method of feeding, and there is also no forced replacement of the mother’s breast with a rubber nipple from a bottle, which helps to maintain breastfeeding.

Disadvantages: High cost.

The process itself: Very similar to bottle feeding. Expressed milk or something else that needs to be fed to the baby is poured into the handle of the spoon. The person feeding the baby presses on the sides at the base of the spoon to squeeze out the next portion of food into the spoon and gives it to the baby. Quite simple and convenient.

Side feeding

hand feeding

In order to reveal all the nuances of how to properly breastfeed while lying down, you need to try this process from your own experience. It is important in this matter not only that the mother is in a comfortable position, but also the child. It is not at all necessary that he lie on his side either. If a child feels comfortable lying on his back with his head turned to one side, then it is not at all necessary to shift him to his side. As a rule, when a baby experiences discomfort, he lets it know by whims and crying.

The advantage of side-lying breastfeeding is that it suits women of all bust sizes. It is enough to adjust the position by tilting the elbow on which you have to lean, or placing a pillow under your back. If possible, you can lean against the wall, then there will be plenty of space in front for the child and there will be no risk of him falling from a height.

Pose 1 – classic: “cradle”

Classic cradle

The mother sits on a chair or in an armchair. The child is in her arms - her head is in the crook of her elbow, her lower back is in the palm of her second hand, her legs are supported by her forearm. The baby's belly should be parallel to the mother's belly. The cradle position when feeding while sitting is the most famous position for nursing. Women of older generations often used only one. In Soviet manuals they taught to breastfeed this way - sitting upright, holding the baby close to you with your arms. In fact, this position is designed specifically for 15-minute feedings at 3-hour intervals. You can’t sit like that for long - your whole body is tense and numb, your hands are busy.

— Subtype 1(a): “cross cradle”

Cross cradle

A sitting mother holds the baby with one hand - opposite the nursing breast. His head rests in his mother's palm, and his body is supported by her forearm. The reverse cradle is even less comfortable than the direct one. This sub-pose was invented with one purpose - to free the hand. But the hand on which the double load falls becomes numb very quickly. After adjusting your grip or taking a sip of tea, you have to return to your previous position.

— Subspecies 1(b): “standing cradle”


The mother stands or walks, holding the child on her chest with two hands: the head on the crook of the elbow of one, the butt on the forearm of the other. It's hard to imagine a less comfortable position. Women who are forced to feed this way for some time remember this period as a nightmare. Usually you have to feed standing immediately after childbirth, when sitting is impossible because of the stitches in the perineum, and feeding lying down is impossible or scary. The dubious advantage of the pose is the ability to rock the baby at the same time. It is much easier to do this while sitting or jumping on a fitball.

— Features of the “cradle” position when using a feeding pillow

With pillow

Special pillows for nursing mothers gave the “cradle” a new life. Compact boomerang pillows with ties at the back fasten under the chest and allow you to free your hands. The baby is in the right place, the mother just needs to make sure that he remains turned to her with his stomach. The ties secure the pillow well, allowing you to get up and walk, for example, to the kitchen for a cup of tea.

Jack pose

Another popular option for breastfeeding a baby is lying in the jack position. It involves positioning the child head down and legs up. Suitable for improving the emptying of the milk lobes, which are located in the lower part of the breast. Stagnation of milk in the upper ducts can lead to lactostasis and mastopathy. Therefore, it is recommended to practice different methods of latching so that the baby can empty all the milk lobes.

The nuance is that when the mother holds the baby's head, it is necessary to avoid pressing on the back of the head and be careful with the fontanel. Movements should be smooth and soft. Light touching or holding the child is acceptable.

It is necessary to control the baby's movements. The optimal period is up to 4 months, until the baby learns to roll over. Active movements of the legs can cause discomfort for the mother in terms of unexpected pushes and kicks. Do not forget that during or after feeding the baby can do “his own business.” If he is in a diaper, then this is the best option. Otherwise, you may have to take an unplanned joint bath.

Breastfeeding while standing

Such feeding positions are quite unusual, but they allow a woman to do other things at the same time. For example, talk to someone on the phone if necessary.

motion sickness

It is quite simple to perform, since it resembles the actions when a woman takes a baby in her arms and rocks him to calm him down and stop tears.

  1. Children are taken into their arms.
  2. The head is placed on the arm, more precisely, on the elbow. Hold your butt with your palm.
  3. Mother and child are face to face, with the other hand feeding the mammary gland.

Women can easily hold and rock newborn babies with one hand. But older children need to be held with both limbs.

Breastfeeding a baby while standing

On the hips

These positions are suitable for children who are prone to regular burping. When feeding, the baby is positioned in a column, so he can eat milk without swallowing air and without choking.

  1. The child is picked up and placed on his own leg, bent at the knee and placed on a chair.
  2. The correct grip of the baby is also important - he is held by the head and back.
  3. Then the breast must be placed in the mouth.

Babies in this position usually quickly reach for the nipple, and this is a big plus. But there is also a drawback, since the baby begins to turn its head, trying to look at the surrounding objects.

standing child

This pose is suitable for children who can already walk.

It is usually used to quickly calm down a crying toddler or distract him from some object. At the same time, the woman:

  • gets down on his knees;
  • presses the baby to her chest, hugging her shoulders;
  • allows you to independently attach to the mammary gland.

In this position, the baby does not eat for long - 5-10 minutes or even less. Having calmed down, the little one continues to play.

Using a sling

A sling is a special bandage for carrying babies, but it can also be used for feeding. This is especially true during walks, because the baby will eat, calm down, and take a walk.

  1. The woman removes her breasts from clothing and gives them to the baby.
  2. Monitors the correct grasping of the nipple, since it is often difficult for a baby to grasp it if its head is located above the nipple.

Many mothers note that feeding babies in a sling allows them to avoid crooked glances and gossip from people around them. Which, you see, is also extremely important.

Which of the presented provisions are correct and suitable specifically for your child? It’s hard to say, so it’s better for mom to try all the feeding positions described above - lying, sitting or standing - and choose the most comfortable one that allows you to satiate the baby. And do not forget that the use of different positions allows you to avoid stagnation of milk and cracks.

“Hovering” over the baby while lying down while feeding

As the baby grows and the mother gains some confidence in her actions, you can practice different feeding methods. This period occurs at different times for everyone. As a rule, by the end of the first month, fear and self-doubt gradually subside. Questions arise less and less about whether it is possible to breastfeed while lying down, and they are being replaced by questions about how and in what position is more comfortable.

One of the original ones is “overhanging”, the nuance is as follows: the mother is above the baby while he lies on his back. In this position it is convenient to feed with the “upper” breast (for example, the mother lies on her left side, therefore the right breast will be located higher relative to the left). There is no need to turn over to the other side or shift yourself to empty both mammary glands in one feeding.

In order to position the baby comfortably, you can use a pillow as a backing. This way, you won’t have to lean forward too much and strain your back muscles. And as support for mom, use pillows for support or sit closer to the wall. Following these simple nuances is quite accessible and effective, especially if you want to relax together. The relaxed state is transmitted to the baby, who feels the mother’s internal state like no one else.

It is important to understand not only how to properly breastfeed a baby while lying down, but also what the advantages of this or that position are. This position allows you to avoid stagnation of breast milk in the ducts, the baby receives a sufficient amount of nutrients in one feeding. For a woman, this is a good opportunity to “develop” tight breasts. The only drawback is that this method is not recommended during night feeding, as you can simply not notice and fall asleep, crushing the baby. This position is suitable when the mother is awake and controls the feeding process.


Oddly enough, bottle feeding is not such an ancient way of supplementary feeding. It began to be used only about a hundred years ago, pushing into the background all other methods of feeding a newborn baby. In addition to the bottle method, of course, there are others that come to us and leave, unable to withstand the tests and turning out to be not so convenient in comparison with existing ones or newly invented ones. But the bottle with pacifier is still the leader in our society, not inferior to others.

Suitable for:

• Mothers who, due to circumstances, need to go to work or study;

• Children who need additional feeding if the mother does not have enough milk;

• Premature babies at the stage of development of the sucking reflex - transition from bottle to breast: As a rule, in premature babies the sucking reflex is poorly developed, and they cannot extract as much milk from the mother's breast as they need to get enough and replenish expended energy. In such cases, after the tube, a bottle and breast are used for feeding alternately. At first, the baby sucks from the breast as much as he can, and then, when there is less strength left for sucking, he is given a bottle with milk expressed in advance, from which milk is much easier to obtain than from the breast.

Advantages: Does not require any effort, except patience, in the case of feeding a premature baby: such babies eat very slowly with breaks for rest, so they have to be bottle-fed for up to half an hour, or even an hour (you can’t feed expressed milk for more than an hour, otherwise it will quickly spoils). Also does not require special training.


• Inconvenience with constant sterilization of bottles and nipples;

• A feeling of foreign material in no way comparable to the mother’s breast (some dentists claim that prolonged sucking on bottle nipples and pacifiers leads to improper bite formation);

• There is a fear of breast refusal (a child who has been feeding from the mother's breast for some time before being offered a bottle may opt for a bottle).

The process itself: Western lactation specialist Di Kassing is convinced that with careful selection of accessories and correct feeding techniques, you can avoid the possibility of abandoning the breast in favor of a bottle, as well as the appearance of cracked nipples and improper attachment to the breast. Here's what he advises:

• When choosing a bottle, pay attention to its shape; it should be straight without anatomical bends. The base of the nipple is not wide (a wide nipple forces the child to squeeze his gums tightly, and a narrow one allows the mouth to be in a comfortable half-open state). The shape of the nipple should be round. As a result of ultrasound studies, it turned out that it is the round old-fashioned nipple that is most similar to sucking on the mother’s breast, and not orthodontic ones, as is commonly believed. The flow of milk from the nipple should be slow and should not run when you turn the bottle upside down. Feeding a full bottle should take 15 to 20 minutes. The material from which the pacifier is made should be very soft, as soft as possible (based on Western research, it was found that sucking a hard pacifier, which is much harder than the breast, results in orthodontic problems).

• If it is possible to breastfeed the baby even a little, then this must be done before bottle feeding. To do this, it is necessary to place him on his knees so that his upper body is raised almost to a sitting position. The bottle must be held horizontally. Serve into a wide open mouth, placing the entire nipple in the mouth up to the ring of the bottle, i.e. the nipple goes deep into the mouth like a mother's nipple. When the baby is ready to suck, the bottle is raised so that no air forms in the place where the baby receives milk from the bottle.

Pediatrician's advice: A premature baby cannot suck for a long time, and in the process of feeding from a bottle, often tired, falls asleep. In order to wake him up, stroke with your finger behind his ear, where his cheek is, tickle his heels. To get the baby to open his mouth, touch the nipple from the bottle in the corners of his lips; newborns reflexively open their mouths in search of the mother's breast.

Reclining position

on the stomach

If a woman produces a lot of milk and she does not know how to breastfeed while lying down so that the baby has time to swallow it and does not choke, then it is recommended to try the next option. To begin with, mom needs to take a comfortable position, put pillows under her back so that she can lean on her elbows comfortably. In this case, the baby should be positioned facing you, the tummy should be in contact with the mother's belly.

The main nuance is that the baby does not choke on large amounts of milk. If he is restless or overly active, the warmth of his mother's body will calm him down. The position is well suited for babies who often spit up. This is due to the fact that the stomach is in a vertical position, which interferes with this process.

Regular teaspoon

Spoon feeding a newborn is usually used by those who for some reason do not accept using a bottle with a nipple. This method is the next most popular after a bottle with a nipple.

Suitable for: Premature babies whose sucking reflex is poorly developed in the first weeks of life. Also for babies who have refused to breastfeed or do not want to suck a bottle.

Advantages: Does not require additional accessories or skills. Does not lead to breast refusal.

Disadvantages: Requires a lot of time for feeding, as a result of which the feeding process is quite tedious and difficult. Quite often, feeding in this way is completed before the child has time to eat, which leads to underweight and an uncomfortable (half-starved) state for the baby. In addition, the baby may spill the mother's hard-earned milk during feeding.

The process itself: No different from regular feeding a baby with a spoon. You just need to take one point into account - during the feeding process you should pour milk or formula into the cheek.

How to make the process comfortable for your baby

For those who are puzzled by the question of how to properly breastfeed while lying down, it is recommended to prepare the space around it in advance. The main nuance on which comfortable feeding depends is the absence of haste and haste, the position of the baby on a clean diaper. The baby's head should be on a diaper folded separately in four layers. Under no circumstances should it fall back or be lowered. This way it will be possible to ensure a slight elevation of the head relative to the body.

You can hold the baby's body with your free hand, which will provide him with additional support and close contact with the mother's body. To determine the correct position of the baby relative to the mother, you need to look at what level his mouth is located. It should be opposite the nipple, which will allow you to gently guide it towards the breast, and not push it towards the baby.

If the baby is located close to the edge of the bed (or sofa), it is recommended to place a pillow rolled into a cushion shape on the side of his back. If a bolster is used to hold the child in a side-lying position, it should not rest against the head. Its length is equal to the length of the baby's body to the shoulders. It is also important to ensure that the baby’s movements are not limited, which can lead to unnecessary stress.

Nasogastric (stomach) tube

Almost all premature and low birth weight babies, as well as children with any serious illness, undergo this feeding method.

Suitable for: Premature babies born at less than 30-32 weeks of gestation. Also for seriously ill children who are unable to eat in any other way.

Advantages: The child does not get used to this method of feeding. It is safe and fast.

Disadvantages: The method must be carried out only by medical personnel or under their strict supervision.

The process itself: The probe is inserted by a medical professional through the child’s nose directly into the stomach. Part of the probe with a cap and a hole for power input remains outside. Food for the child is introduced into this hole (not under pressure!) in a pre-calculated dosage. The probe can remain inside the child without removal for 2 to 5 days. There is an assumption that if, during feeding, a mother allows her baby to suck her finger (or even better, her breast), turned upward (be sure to thoroughly wash it in advance), this stimulates the digestive tract, which directly contributes to weight gain.

The best option is if the baby is fed with expressed breast milk, or, as a last resort, with an adapted formula for premature babies.

Convenient location for mom

comfort for mom

One of the important nuances during feeding is the comfortable clothes that a woman wears in everyday life. In particular, underwear, which should quickly allow her to gain access to her breasts. For this purpose, there are special nursing bras, tops, and T-shirts. Therefore, you should not neglect them, they will significantly facilitate the daily ritual, your breasts will have support throughout the day.

When breastfeeding while lying on your side, the main thing is to find a support point that will help the mother evenly distribute the load. The main thing is that someone is nearby to provide assistance or the essentials are at hand. These can be pillows, a donut-shaped cushion, baby hygiene items (towel, diaper, napkins), and a pacifier. It is important to leave your cell phone nearby and put it in quiet mode, charger (preferably wireless). This is especially valuable when the baby falls asleep.

The main task for the mother in this process is to experience pleasant moments of unity with the child. Therefore, she should enjoy the joint process. This is a kind of act of communication that is available only to the two of them. The baby communicates by touching the mother's body, so during feeding there should be nothing that would interfere, distract or make him nervous. It’s worth putting off doing laundry, cooking, and making phone calls for a while.

The main thing is safety

safety comes first

In such a delicate issue as proper breastfeeding of a newborn while lying down, safety is an important aspect. Fatigue and inattention can cause a number of unpleasant and even tragic moments to develop. You should always remember about safety, especially when a woman is alone with her child.

So, where should you start and how to breastfeed your newborn while lying down to avoid falls and other troubles? It is never recommended to place an infant between two adults. No matter how sensitive the dream is, we should not forget about the phase when a person cannot control his actions. This is the period of deep sleep. Also, the usual action for many - covering with a blanket - is not excluded. All this, of course, is a risk that you can cut off the baby’s oxygen supply and he will simply suffocate.

When the baby already knows how to roll over, the easiest way is to place a couple of pillows under the mattress or on the floor. This will soften the fall and avoid bumps and bruises. Of course, the most reliable way is to move the baby to a separate bed. But not all children want to sleep separately.

It is safe for the baby to breastfeed while lying down, when the mother is extremely sensitive to any movements of the baby and can immediately respond to his movements. This is not uncommon, and does not inspire confidence in everyone. True, experienced mothers know that only they feel the child like no one else. Naturally, if in doubt, it is better not to risk it and at the first signs of sound sleep, shift the child separately. To see what the baby is doing during the night feeding, you can leave the night light on.

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