Once you and your baby have become old hands at breastfeeding, you’ll be able to nurse while talking on the phone, reading a book, supervising your other children, or walking around. For now, though, it’s best to start with as few distractions as possible. Most new mothers first try breastfeeding sitting up in a hospital bed, with the baby supported by a pillow in their lap and cradled in their arms. If you choose this position, elevate the head of the bed as much as possible and place pillows behind you until your back is comfortable. Place your baby on a pillow on your lap (this is an especially good idea if you’ve had a cesarean section, or “C-section”) so his head is level with your breast. You might put pillows at your sides to rest your arms so they won’t tire mid-feeding. At home, you may find an armchair helpful. If you breastfeed while sitting in a chair, be sure it offers sturdy back and arm support and is not too low or high. A pillow or two tucked behind your back can make nursing in a chair more comfortable, as can a low footstool to support your legs.
Whether you are sitting up in bed or have settled into an armchair, keep your back straight but relaxed as you offer your baby the breast. Your baby may find it more difficult to latch on properly if you are leaning forward or back, since this changes the angle at which he receives the breast; your back may soon feel the strain of this as well. If your breasts are large, you might need to place a rolled-up towel or receiving blanket beneath your breast to keep your baby’s mouth at a straight-on angle with the nipple, in addition to supporting the breast with your hand.
Once you are correctly positioned, you can hold your baby in a number of ways. As you practice breastfeeding before leaving the hospital, try several positions (for both your baby and yourself) and ask your nurse or lactation specialist to check your technique. Using more than one position can help prevent nipple soreness and clogging of milk ducts, since different positions drain different areas of the breast more effectively. Some positions also work better than others in certain circumstances; for example, the reclining position is lovely when you’re half-asleep.