Breastfeeding seems like it should be a no-brainer.
You put the baby up to your breast, the baby opens their mouth and sucks. But it’s rarely that simple. Holding your baby in a way that makes feeding easiest for them and for you isn’t necessarily straightforward. Luckily, lots of women who came before us figured it out.
The four holds recommended by The Mayo Clinic are the:
- cradle hold
- cross-cradle hold
- football hold
- side-lying hold
The cradle hold is a classic. It’s the OG of breastfeeding holds.
To do this hold comfortably, you should sit in a chair with armrests or an area with lots of pillows to support your arms. Babies may be tiny, but holding them in one position for a long time can be hard on your arms and back. So first, get comfortable.
Sit up straight, and support your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Your baby’s body should be on its side and turned towards you, with their inside arm tucked underneath. Hold your baby on your lap or lay them on a pillow on your lap, whichever is more comfortable.
As you can tell by the name, the cross-cradle hold is just like the cradle hold, only crossed. What that means is that instead of resting your baby’s head in the crook of your arm, you’re supporting their bottom.
Sit up straight and hold your baby so that their bottom is in the crook of your arm and their head is at the breast you want to feed them from (the breast that’s opposite from the side of the supporting arm).
You’ll also be holding their head with the hand of the supporting arm, so again, making sure you have armrests or pillows is important. Your free arm will be used to hold your feeding breast from underneath in a position that makes it easier for your baby to latch on.
In a chair with armrests or using supportive pillows, hold your baby at your side with your arm bent and your palm facing up, similar to how you’d hold a football while running. Your baby’s back will be on your forearm and their head will be in your hand.
Use that supporting hand to bring the baby to your breast and, if you’d like, the other hand to hold the breast from underneath.
It’s rare that you can combine parenting and lying down, so take advantage of it whenever you can. This is a great hold to use when you’re really, really tired. And that will be all the time.
For this hold, lie on your side and hold your baby against you. With your free arm, bring your baby to the bottom breast. Once the baby latches, you can use your free arm to support them while your other arm grabs a pillow and holds it under your sleepy head.
If mastering the art of breastfeeding can be challenging with just one new baby, it can be twice as daunting with two. But mothers of twins can make feedings not only manageable, but very comfortable and successful.
Here’s some of what you should know about breastfeeding your twins, plus a few positions to keep everyone comfortable.
Breastfeeding your twins separately
As you first begin breastfeeding twins, it’s best to nurse each twin separately. That way, you can focus on how well each baby latches and feeds.
The Mayo Clinic advises tracking your babies’ feeding habits by recording how long and how often they each nurse, plus keeping a tally of wet and poopy diapers. For pumped milk, track how much each baby takes in a feeding.
As you become used to breastfeeding your babies, you can experiment with nursing them both at the same time. For some moms, this is a convenient timesaver. Others find that their babies prefer nursing individually, and that’s fine, too.
You might try nursing your babies individually during the day, and both of them at the same time at night. Remember, there’s no wrong way to breastfeed your twins, as long as both babies are thriving and you’re comfortable.
Positions for breastfeeding twins
If you’d like to try breastfeeding your twins at the same time, here are a few positions to consider. The important thing is finding a position that’s comfortable for you and allows your babies to latch well.
Place a pillow on both sides of your body and across your lap. Tuck each baby against your sides, on the pillows, with their feet pointing away from you. You’ll support each baby’s back with your forearms, using the pillows to support your arms.
Your babies’ bottoms will fit into the insides of your elbows, and their heads will be at nipple level. Hold the back of each baby’s head. You can also try laying your babies on pillows in front of you. Turn their bodies in toward you, using your palms to support their heads.
In this position, one baby is tucked against you in the cradle position, while the other baby is against you in the clutch position explained above. This is a good option if you have one baby with a particularly good latch (put that baby in the cradle position).
As you begin, it’s helpful to have an extra set of hands to help you get all those pillows and babies situated. And if one baby takes more time to latch properly, try latching them first. Then relax and enjoy.
Using one or more of these breastfeeding positions should help make breastfeeding easy and comfortable for you and your baby. If you need help with positions or other breastfeeding issues, you can find information online or through your obstetrician, pediatrician, or local hospital.