Breastfeeding Positions For C-Section Moms

  • Sekinat AmooMasters of Public Health – MPH, University of Sheffield, England
  • Raadhika AgrawalBachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India
  • Tanvi Shukla Master of Pharmacy - MPHARM, Nirma University

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Importance of breastfeeding positions for C-section moms

Whether planned or otherwise, surgical delivery may increase the difficulty of breastfeeding a newborn baby, especially in the first few days after birth. This might be a result of pain, reduced mobility, general tiredness, or delay in milk production. Some recommended positions keep pressure away from the surgery scar, ease the discomfort for the mother and ensure the baby gets the required nutrients through breastfeeding.

Benefits of breastfeeding after C-section

There are several benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby. One of the most important ones for the mother post-C-section is the release of a hormone called prolactin that helps the uterus contract and return to its original size.

This can help in the healing and recovery process. Babies born via C-section are at a greater risk of infection because of the method of delivery. However, breast milk is known to contain antibodies that can protect them from these infections while providing their bodies with the required nutrients.1

The following positions are known to be favourable for breastfeeding after delivery. However, in addition to taking advice from nursing experts and healthcare providers, every mother will know what works best for her and her infant(s) and should adapt accordingly.

Cradle hold position description and technique

This is one of the most popular breastfeeding positions, however, it may be uncomfortable for mothers who deliver their babies through C-section. This is because the baby is held in a position where s/he lies across the tummy near the C-section scar, therefore putting pressure on the sore abdomen.

For this cradle hold position, you lay your baby across your lap, facing you. Place your baby’s head on your forearm with his or her nose towards your nipple, your baby’s head should rest comfortably in the crook of your elbow. The entire length of your baby’s body should be supported by your hand with the forearm supporting the baby’s bottom or upper thigh while placing the baby’s lower arm under yours. The baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip should be in a straight line. 

Tips for comfort and latch

For support, you can place the baby on a pillow or nursing pillow. To provide more comfort for the mother, if sitting on a chair, rest your feet on a stool to stop you from leaning forward while breastfeeding, which can cause backache and put pressure on the C-section scar. 

This position encourages a very relaxed posture and frees up the arm. If required, the breast can be supported with the other hand. However, this position is most suitable for full-term babies who have no problem latching and is more effective once the baby has stronger neck muscles.

Football hold

Position description and technique

This position is also called the clutch hold, which clutches the baby under the arm. It might be a good option for mothers recovering from a C-section (as the baby does not rest on the abdomen) and also for mothers with large breasts, inverted nipples, or small babies.

The baby is held beside you, with your elbow bent, open your hand to support your baby’s head as you face him or her towards your breast. Your baby’s legs are carefully placed under your arm. For comfort, place a pillow next to you, underneath the arm holding your baby. 

Advantages and tips

This position is also suitable for mothers with twin babies who want to feed simultaneously. The football hold position allows your baby to take milk more easily. The hand can be used to guide the baby to the breast and help the baby properly latch. However, this position might not be suitable for bigger or older babies.

Side-lying position

Position description and technique

This position is most comfortable for mothers who have had a C-section as the baby lays beside the mother, so no pressure on the mother’s abdomen. For this position, you begin by lying on your side and placing your baby on his or her side, facing you. Your baby’s position should be positioned so his or her nose is opposite your nipples.

Your lower arm or a rolled-up blanket should be used to cradle your baby’s back to help prop them closer to you while your upper arm supports your head. Keeping your baby’s hips flexed while their ear, shoulder, and hip align helps your baby get more milk easily. Your other hand can be used to hold your breast while your baby feeds.

Benefits and considerations

In addition to women who have delivered their babies via C-section, this position is also suitable for women who have had difficult deliveries and find it challenging to sit up. This position is also more comfortable at night, but you may find it easier to first practice during the daytime.

Laid-back position

Position description and technique

Laid-back breastfeeding, also known as biological nurturing, requires you to get comfortable with your baby and encourage his or her natural breastfeeding instincts. This position requires you to position yourself comfortably in a bed or couch with back support, and pillows to support your head, shoulder, and arms.

Lean back (but not flat), put your baby on your chest, and let his or her cheek rest close enough to your breast, your baby’s tummy should be resting on yours. Rub your nipple on your baby’s upper lip to encourage latching.

Benefits after C-section

According to many mothers, this breastfeeding position helps them to bond faster with their baby. It triggers the baby’s ability to use their primitive feeding reflexes which in turn improves reach and better latch to the mother’s breast, proving a comfortable experience for both mother and baby.

It is a restful position for mothers who have just delivered via C-section, as they don’t have to sit upright to nurse their infants, and your body can support your baby’s weight. Anyone can help position the baby to a comfortable position if it is hard for the mother to move or lift her baby herself.

Overcoming challenges

Addressing C-section recovery difficulties

C-section is a major surgery and recovery takes time, sometimes longer than your healthcare provider says it will. Some mothers experience muscle incision pain for several months while others may struggle with urinary incontinence due to the weakened pelvic floor muscles.2

Although these challenges are common, they should not be ignored. Any new or persistent symptoms after the first post-partum appointment should be reported to your doctor or midwife for proper evaluation.

The following can reduce recovery time and address recovery difficulties experienced post-C-section:

  • loads of rest
  • eating well
  • light regular exercise 
  • proper pain management
  • looking out for signs of infection
  • addressing constipation
  • breastfeeding support
  • seeking help for any long-term problems

Managing pain and discomfort

During the C-section recovery process, discomfort and fatigue are common symptoms reported by mothers. To promote healing, you are required to seek pain relief and take things easy. Taking things easy requires a good amount of rest, keeping the things you and your baby will need within reach, and avoiding lifting objects heavier than your baby.

Pain management makes care for your infant and breastfeeding easier. Several medications may be prescribed by your healthcare provider to help soothe the soreness you will feel around the incision. These include paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, or any other breastfeeding-safe medications prescribed by your doctor. In addition to these, keep an eye on your incision site for any signs of infection like redness, swelling, or leaking discharge and contact your healthcare provider immediately.3

Proper latch techniques

To prevent sore or cracked nipples and to ensure the nursing experience is comfortable for you and your baby, there are a few steps to follow for a good latch.

  • Hold your baby’s whole body close to yours and aim your nipple just above the top lip
  • Ensure your baby’s head is tilted backward and your chin is not tucked into his or her chest
  • Aim your baby’s lower lip away from your nipple with the chin firmly touching your breast, their nose clear and mouth wide open
  • Your baby should latch on your breast with tongue extended and your breast should fill his or her mouth

If your baby latches on the tip of your nipple, gently insert a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the latch, then repeat the above steps to try again.

Additional tips for success

Caring for the incision site

Although the outer skin edges of the incision wound normally seal after a couple of days, the internal healing of muscles and other tissue below the skin goes on for several months. After discharge from the hospital, you should be able to manage your incision wound at home. Always clean your hands properly with soap and water before touching the wound or the skin around it.

Bathe and shower as normal without holding the shower directly over the wound or immersing it in water. Always pat the wound dry with a clean towel and wear loose-fitting underwear to prevent rubbing against the wound.4

Using pillows or cushions for support

Pillows and cushions can help you find a comfortable position to breastfeed your baby. They provide the necessary arm and body support during nursing sessions and keep the baby in the proper position. These pillows come in a variety of styles and shapes and can also be used for protecting a C-section scar while holding your baby during feeding sessions, preventing reflux, and supporting the baby during tummy and sitting time.

Creating a comfortable environment

Breastfeeding offers great benefits to both mother and baby, but this can become exhausting and unpleasant, especially for mothers who have delivered their babies through C-sections. Creating a comfortable environment can ensure a positive breastfeeding experience for the mother and her baby. This includes creating a space, setting it up and including essentials and comfortable furniture, surrounding yourself with support and ensuring you care for yourself too.

Skin-to-skin contact and kangaroo care

Kangaroo care is skin-to-skin contact where your baby is placed against your chest. It has benefits for mother and baby, including improving lactation and through this, healthy weight gain for the baby. In the long term, it helps the mother feel close to her baby.


C-section is a major surgery, but if the post-operation period is not well managed, it may hinder breastfeeding and all the positive benefits for mother and baby. Many steps and precautions can be taken to ensure the baby and mother get all the benefits of breastfeeding, while the mother heals during the postpartum period. The football-hold, side-lying, and laid-back positions have been suggested as the best positions post C-section, as the incision site health, other positions can be explored by the mother and baby.


  1. Trust) N (National C. NCT (National Childbirth Trust). 2022 [cited 2023 Oct 12]. Laid-back breastfeeding: benefits and uses | Baby & toddler, Feeding articles & support | NCT. Available from:
  2. Wang CH, Kuo NW, Anthony K. Impact of window views on recovery—an example of post-cesarean section women. International Journal for Quality in Health Care [Internet]. 2019 Dec 31 [cited 2023 Oct 12];31(10):798–803. Available from:
  3. Kintu A, Abdulla S, Lubikire A, Nabukenya MT, Igaga E, Bulamba F, et al. Postoperative pain after cesarean section: assessment and management in a tertiary hospital in a low-income country. BMC Health Services Research [Internet]. 2019 Jan 25 [cited 2023 Oct 12];19(1):68. Available from:
  4. [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 12]. Latching on - How to breastfeed. Available from:

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Sekinat Amoo

Masters of Public Health – MPH, University of Sheffield, England

Sekinat is a highly skilled and dedicated health writer, complemented by her invaluable experience as a Public Health Consultant. With an academic background in Life Sciences and Healthcare and a profound passion for women empowerment, Sekinat has seamlessly merged the worlds of healthcare and communication to advocate for improved women's health, well-being, and empowerment through her writing. She has many years of experience in healthcare management consulting, programme and project management and execution. Her work is driven by a desire to educate, inspire, and empower women to take charge of their health and lives. She is proficient in crafting clear, concise, and informative health content and has a knack for translating complex health information into easily digestible articles, reports, and publications.

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