Breastfeeding After a C-Section: What Positions to Know

Everyone's breastfeeding experience is different. And there is no “one size fits all” guide, especially after having a cesarean section! But trying out different positions is essential to finding what's most comfortable for you and your baby and setting you up for breastfeeding success. Here are six IBCLC approved breastfeeding positions we recommend for mamas who have had a cesarean section. 

Football Hold:
An upright position to use while sitting with the baby off to the side where they are less likely to kick or rub against your incision. This one can only be used for a short period of time because your baby will physically outgrow it.

Cradle Hold:
A classic breastfeeding position where you sit upright with baby positioned on their side, with their head and neck laying along your forearm and their body against your stomach.

Cross-Cradle Hold:
Very similar to the cradle hold but your arms switch so that your baby’s body lies along your opposite forearm.

The side-lying position is the most critical position for any new c-section mama to learn as it allows for rest and recovery! C-section mothers should recline in a comfortable position to rest when possible, especially in the early days and weeks of c-section recovery, so reclining as you nurse is key.

Reverse Crawl:
Laying back and relaxing with your baby's body across your shoulder can be especially useful just after a cesarean birth (get help from your partner or family member) or during recovery if you can't find another position that you and your baby are comfortable in. This position can allow moms to have their baby skin-to-skin and breastfeed even while mom is still in the operating room.

Laid Back:
This is another well-known, popular breastfeeding position and can be great for c-section mamas as you try to recline, rest, and recover! Be sure to avoid weight and pressure on your wound site.

​​We encourage all breastfeeding mothers, regardless of if they had a cesarean delivery or vaginal birth, to try out different positions to figure out which ones are the most comfortable breastfeeding positions for them. The positions listed here are recommended by lactation consultants specifically for moms who need to be mindful of their incision site while recovering from major surgery. 

Breastfeeding can be tricky, but remember that there is a lot of breastfeeding support available! A lactation consultant can be a game-changer in helping you troubleshoot any breastfeeding issues you're having, and they can answer any questions you may have about colostrum during early breastfeeding, milk supply, how much breast milk your baby needs, engorgement, and anything else that may come up.

In addition to resting, postpartum compression garments, c-section bandages, and gentle movement can also help moms recovering from a c-section. Compression garments provide stability and support to the abdomen and can help with postpartum swelling. Garments should be comfortable and supportive, not restrictive. C-section bandages can  protect the incision site while you’re healing, and may also soften the scar tissue over time. Aeroflow Breastpumps carries both of these items, and they may be covered by your insurance with a prescription from your doctor. If maternity or postpartum compression could help you throughout your motherhood journey, be sure to fill out our quick and easy Qualify Through Insurance Form

Gentle movement like diaphragmatic breathing, changing positions frequently, and eventually easy stretching and light walking when you’re ready can make a difference in how your body feels as you recover from a c-section. Your incision needs time to heal before it can handle anything too strenuous, but it also needs light circulation as it recovers. Staying in one spot all day long can contribute to swelling around the incision and make it even more uncomfortable when you do stand up to move around. Try to vary your position throughout the day in between breastfeeding sessions, and bring in gentle stretching, walking, and ease into exercise over the weeks to come as your incision heals. 

Remember that there are no right or wrong breastfeeding positions. Do what works best for you and your little one, and don't forget to rest!

About the Author

Dr. Samantha Spencer, PT, DPT, is a Medical Advisor with Aeroflow Breastpumps. Dr. Spencer is a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic and perinatal care in the Asheville, NC, area where she offers in-home physical therapy to prenatal & postpartum individuals. She also developed the Strong Beyond Birth 28-Day Course to guide and support moms as they return to exercise, and offers virtual consultations to women everywhere.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.