Breastfeeding is so unique, as it can provide the special bond that only mothers and their babies can have. However, breastfeeding is usually a learned skill and often requires assistance to discover the best way to nurse. When it comes to breastfeeding your baby there are so many “correct” ways to hold. What may seem most familiar to you is the cradle hold, as holding your baby across your chest seems most natural. After experiencing many different holds while breastfeeding, I fell in love with the football hold and the ease to which it enabled breastfeeding. it is most important for you to find the hold that works best for you and your baby. You should focus on comfort, latch, breast emptying, and your bond!
So what is the football hold and why might it work better for breastfeeding?
The football or “clutch” hold consists of holding your baby alongside your ribcage with your arm under, providing support to the body and your hand holding the head. Your baby should be close to you with belly and face slightly upwards, but facing your body. Baby’s mouth should be at nipple height while you support your breast with your other hand. Your baby’s legs and feet should be tucked under your arm with the hips flexed. PIllows under baby and behind mama help both the comfort and support of the baby. The La Leche League International has a great explanation and picture for additional help.
So why can the football hold work so well? In fact, the WIC Breastfeeding Support Website says that it’s typically the recommended hold for those mamas with cesarean sections, as it provides relief from any pressure on the incision. Additionally, it works well for those babies that have a difficult time latching and may be low birth weight because it provides extra support of the baby’s head. This hold may also be best for those mamas with large breasts, flattened nipples, feeding twins, and a quick let-down. If you do have a strong, quick let-down, the football hold position also helps your baby suck from different areas of the breast, decreasing the risk of plugged milk ducts. Baby is more upright in the football position, enabling those babies with reflux to breastfeed better.
All in all, there are SO many different breastfeeding holds and the football hold is just one hold! What matters most is your comfort and an effective feed for your baby. An effective feed involves a large, open mouth with big effective sucks. It should be pain-free for you, mama! If you need more assistance with a proper hold and latch, reach out to your local Mama Coach!