Why You Should Try Laid-Back Breastfeeding

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Laid-back breastfeeding can help you get a deep, painless latch—all while being positioned comfortably yourself! Keep reading to learn about the benefits of laid-back breastfeeding and how to do it.

For years, lactation consultants have taken a “managed” approach to teaching parents how to breastfeed. In other words, we train breastfeeding parents to sit in certain positions, teach specific latching techniques, and instruct on the various dos and donts of getting breastmilk into their babies. 

What They Don't Tell You About Breastfeeding

This is what they don’t tell you in the hospital. Our FREE guide will give you 12 breastfeeding secrets that will help you avoid common problems down the road. 

But what if there was another way? A way for parents to breastfeed that came naturally, without all the steps and holds and techniques and rules?

The truth is, we need to change the way we “teach” breastfeeding. And it should start with laid-back breastfeeding.

Why you should try laid-back breastfeeding

Laid-back breastfeeding (sometimes referred to as “Biological Nurturing”) is an alternative to the typical breastfeeding positions/holds they usually teach in breastfeeding classes. It natural and comfortable—so much so, that this position is the one most often adopted by breastfeeding parents who have never taken a breastfeeding class before! 

Benefits of Laid-Back Breastfeeding

Laid-back breastfeeding doesn’t require you to hold baby in any kind of potentially awkward or uncomfortable upright position. Baby’s body is easily well positioned, so you don’t need to worry about if baby is comfortable or if he or she is properly supported. Because of this, you also don’t need any special breastfeeding pillow to make this position work well.

Laid-back breastfeeding positions can also be good for parents who have a fast letdown (milk ejects from the breast forcefully/quickly). Gravity can help slow down the flow of milk, which may help baby avoid gulping down milk, swallowing air, and experiencing gas or reflux as a result. 

Newborn on mother's chest breastfeeding

Perhaps the best thing about laid-back breastfeeding is that it allows your baby to use his or her innate feeding reflexes to achieve a latch that naturally tends to be deep and comfortable. In other words, there’s not much you need to do to help baby latch on well in this position! A deep, comfortable, and effective latch tends to happen naturally. One recent study found that breastfeeding in a laid-back position significantly reduced the risk of breast problems, including cracked and sore nipples. This is an incredibly important finding, since, a painless latch helps protect milk supply. 

Here’s what laid-back breastfeeding looks like:

Older baby in a laid-back breastfeeding position with mom

And here’s how to get in this position:

Step 1. Grab a couple of pillows.

These can (and probably should) be regular pillows from your bed or couch. They’re mostly for your own comfort, so they’re not a requirement. Put one behind your back if needed so that you feel supported. Hold on to the other pillows—we’ll use them later if needed.

Step 2. Lie back in a reclined position on a couch, sofa, or chair and get comfortable.

You want to lie back far enough that a baby on your chest wouldn’t roll down your abdomen, but not so far back that you are lying flat. The angle behind your back will be about 15-65 degrees.

Angle of recline when lying back

Step 3. Put baby on your chest (ideally skin-to-skin) and allow baby time to latch

Don’t be surprised if baby bobs his or her head around for awhile while seeking the breast. You can gently guide baby to your breast if you like. 

There isn’t a lot you need to do to latch baby on in this position. It isn’t like other breastfeeding positions, where you need to bring baby to your breast and make sure the breast is aligned with baby’s mouth a certain way in order to achieve a deep latch. In this position, baby is already positioned in alignment with the breast, so latching on deeply tends to come easier.

Babies often self-attach (latch-on) to the breast with very little assistance in this position

When on your chest, you might notice baby go through a predictable series of motions when latching on in this position. Baby may bob his or her head around as he or she seeks the breast. Baby might “knead” the breast, smack the lips, suck on his or her hands, and lick the areola/nipple before finally latching on and beginning to suck. 

In other words, baby may not latch on immediately. So be sure to give them plenty of time!

Step 4. Support your baby and body

Make sure that baby is belly to belly with you and that baby’s feet are able to push against something—your arm, the back of the couch, a pillow, etc. This allows baby more positional stability. Once you have baby on, support your arms as needed with pillows. You should be able to relax your muscles completely and still feel like your arms—and baby—are fully supported. 

And that’s pretty much it! Want to see it in action? Here’s a short video for you:

Need more help?

If you’re having trouble getting a laid back to work for you, there are certain adjustments you can make that can be really helpful, which you can learn about in this post.

And if you find yourself wishing you took a breastfeeding class before baby arrived (or if the one you took wasn’t that helpful), be sure to take my Breastfeed With Confidence online course. It’s focused on preventing the most common breastfeeding issues and helping you (re)build and protect your milk supply. It’s perfect for new parents AND those with prior breastfeeding experience! Here’s what one of my students had to say after taking it: 

“I wish I would have had this class prior to my first child. I had numerous complications with breastfeeding my first baby, many of which I might have been able to prevent had I taken this course. I decided to take this course prior to having my second child, and was quite surprised how much more I learned, despite the numerous sessions with multiple lactation consultants I had with my first baby. Breastfeeding with my second child has been a much more enjoyable experience!”

-Christy E.

What They Don't Tell You About Breastfeeding

This is what they don’t tell you in the hospital. Our FREE guide will give you 12 breastfeeding secrets that will help you avoid common problems down the road. 

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our digital library of helpful resources that quickly teach how to avoid common breastfeeding problems and give you the peace of mind and confidence you need to meet your breastfeeding goals.

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