How to: Breast Feed Laying Down

22 Mar

When I was in the hospital right after having Hadassah, I met with a lactation consultant. Although breast feeding is “natural,” it does not mean it is easy, and it certainly did not come naturally to me! (side thought – I wonder if there are lactation consultants in tribal villages in the world, and how they go about getting started off successfully with breast feeding… maybe I will investigate and that will be another post!)

I had read the books on breast feeding and the cradle hold and the football hold and thought, “okay, that sounds easy.” I remember the first time I tried to feed Hadassah I cradled her, just as I would have cradled a baby doll as a girl… Her head was facing the ceiling, and the nurse told me I needed to have her body facing me. I remember thinking, “what?!” and now I chuckle at my ignorance. I thought she would just turn her head and eat (WRONG!). Obviously I had a lot to learn after having a baby, and honestly I think I still have some things to learn about milk and breast feeding.

The lactation consultant at the hospital helped me get the positions down correctly. I also remember her helping me with the side-lying position. “This is great for when you need to rest and relax!” I remember her gushing. Resting and relaxing sounded really good at that moment, as I hadn’t slept in about 36 hours. The side-lying position was tricky at the beginning with Hadassah, and I think it might have been due to just learning how to breast feed in general. I think it probably got easier, but as I am breast feeding Emmanuel I can’t really say that I love it. I feel like it is comfortable only on occasion with Emmanuel. For example, if Emmanuel sleeps till 4am, I have lots of milk and my breasts are full. If I try the side-lying position in the afternoon or at night, or even in the middle of the night after Emmanuel has been up every two hours it just doesn’t work comfortably. I think it has to do with the fact that my boobs get deflated at certain times of the day, and if I am in the side lying position with deflated boobs, I actually have to hold them while feeding Emmanuel. Not fun. Not relaxing.

Below I will go over some tips for using the side-lying position, and then two of my very own invented positions! I hope they help out other moms, because I just discovered these positions on my own the other month. It took me 10+ months of breast feeding to figure it out. Next on my list of things to figure out are How to Nurse Using my Moby Wrap, and How to Nurse While Baby is in the Car Seat. I’ve googled both of these and still cannot figure it out. So once/if I do, I will definitely share my additional tips!

Side-lying Position Tips

Get in the side-lying position, as mentioned in published books. As mentioned above, I don’t really like this position. My only tip for making it better is make sure you are using two pillows for your head. I use 2 down pillows here. Then, make sure the top pillow is over your shoulder, and tuck your arm under that pillow as well (bent). Tuck a pillow behind your back for support, and tuck a pillow behind baby so you don’t have to hold baby and you can relax your body and muscles a little more. Also, just yesterday I discovered another tip to share! I am pretty sure the standard for this position is to lay down with baby, bodies parallel, and baby feeds off the breast closest to the bed. However, if you are smaller chested like me and struggle in the same way as I do with this position, try feeding off of the breast not closest to the bed! It just occurred to me to do this yesterday!!! I think it may help a bit to know this is an option and the position is a bit more versatile.

Now: On to the BETTER STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!

The Arm-Chair Position

That is what I am naming this position. The name is subject to change. Yesterday I was talking about how I loved sleeping on my back while pregnant, but for some reason I still sleep on my side while not pregnant. I remember thinking, “I wish I could just lay on my back and feed Hadassah!” when she was about 7-8 months. I imagined that if I fed her when she was a toddler, I could just lay on my back and she would have the physical skills to breast feed like that. However, we never made it that long, and I thought breast feeding while on my back was an impossibility for a tiny baby. Several weeks ago I discovered that it is not! Woohoo!

Place 3 pillows on top of each other for your head area. Instead of just putting your head on the pillows, lay on the pillows starting at about your lower part of your shoulders. You should be on your back (not your side). Place a pillow on each side of you, so it looks like you are sitting in an armchair. Make sure the pillow for the side that you will be feeding on is placed on top of your three (or possibly just the bottom two of the three pillows) head pillows (about 1/3 of the “arm” pillow should be overlapping your head pillows). The other “arm” doesn’t matter so much, and is actually optional. So adjust it to your comfort once you get going. Place baby on top of you, perpendicular, to feed. You should be laying on your back, your arm supported. Even though you are slightly elevated at your upper back, you feel like you are laying down. The “arm” pillows make it so you can relax your arm muscles. This is how I feed Emmanuel almost all the time in the middle of the night. I love it. Maybe some day I will make a video, because I am not great with written instructions.

Well, believe it or not, this has taken me an extremely long time to write, so I will write about my second position in a future post.

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2 Responses to “How to: Breast Feed Laying Down”

  1. JIBlakley 2 April 2013 at 08:23 #

    Awesome!! My mom (and apparently my mother-in-law) nursed laying down. Last night we tried to figure out why it doesn’t work for me… Sigh. One day we’ll learn!!

    • Rachel 2 April 2013 at 09:20 #

      Hope it works for you! It took me a year of nursing to figure something out!

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