Side Lying: Our Fave Breastfeeding Position!
For most breastfeeding parents, complaints about back, neck, and shoulder pain come with the territory. We're taught the football position when we’re in the hospital, which allows hospital staff to easily navigate where baby’s head and nostrils are placed, as well as helping us hold babies who are the smallest they will ever be! It's inspiring, so once we get home in our own natural habitats, we start to experiment with the positions we have read about or seen online. But without much guidance those positions can leave us feeling sore, tight, and painfully tense.
That's why we love teaching our clients the side lying position! This position helps remind our bodies to rest while breastfeeding. Feet up, pressure off our lower body, shoulder and neck supported by the bed/couch and comfy pillows. It gives us a great view of how we are latching babe and allows us to easily manipulate the breast tissue rather than baby’s head. Side lying can also provide us with an awesome bonding opportunity once we are done feeding since babe can look directly into our eyes!
Rather than to assume the ONLY time we should be skin to skin with our babies is when we are feeding them, side lying position helps us train our own bodies to adjust to having the baby with us outside of our bodies after being inside of us for so long. We are carrier mammals, meant to have our babies close to us and attached to us somehow well into their formative years. Side lying gives us an opportunity to rest with them, sleep with them, wake with them, bond with them, smell them, snuggle them…AND feed them! Better still, sometimes that can happen all at the same time!
Some quick guidelines for getting into this awesome position:
Lay belly button to belly button so baby is tilting their head to look up at the breast.
Wedge your pillow between your head and neck with your arm underneath the pillow. This will prevent you from rolling into baby should you doze off while feeding!
Make sure their body is turned completely towards your body as they lay facing you to prevent them from having to look to the side to latch.
Drag your nipple down from their nose into their mouth to help them grab onto as much breast tissue surrounding the areola as possible, but don’t focus on getting the entire areola into their mouth (this theory is near impossible ergonomically and can become extremely frustrating for both of you!)
Roll your body towards them to help them grasp onto the nipple instead of pulling their head towards you.
If you’re concerned about baby’s breathing you can prop your breast up by rolling a burp cloth and placing it underneath the breast in a way that provides them with an additional air pocket to help their breathing! The placement is something you’ll need to experiment with since every baby and breast come in different shapes and sizes.
Always try to focus on positioning your body first so you can feel in alignment physically, mentally, and emotionally in order to pass all that feel-good energy down to your baby. If your posture is off, your energy will be too and babies feel everything!