I’ve been nursing for over three years now and during this time I’ve learned a lot about breastfeeding. Nursing in positions that are comfortable for me have been key to keep on going and although we all have our preferences I think nursing in bed is something all moms should learn.
I love breastfeeding while lying down because I can rest. I nurse in bed when I’m putting my baby down for a nap, when I have a migraine or need a break and at night. We bed share so nursing in bed is what helps me get a good night sleep since I can nurse my baby without getting up.
Nursing in bed at night has truly been a lifesaver. Both of my girls nurse several times at night but by sleeping in bed next to me and nursing lying down it minimizes the time I’m awake and it lets them nurse in their sleep so they never really wake up. When I nurse my baby this way I prefer to be awake but her sessions at night are quick so as soon as she’s done I easily go back to sleep.
It took me two months to figure out how to nurse in bed with my first but with my second I was doing it by the time she was a week old because I had already mastered the technique. My second didn’t always want to breastfeed lying down so I had to hold her a few times at night but eventually she started nursing lying down all the time.
Breastfeeding while lying down:
A few basics:
To nurse in bed wear a lose shirt where you can easily pull out your breast. You can either pull your shirt up or down, I prefer pulling it down. Make sure you wear something comfortable and not tight.
You will need some sort of lighting to see where the baby is latching, especially when they’re little. I use a my Himalayan salt lamp as a night light the first month or two. I leave it on all night since they wake up so often. Once they’re done pooping at night I just leave my iPhone near by (in airplane mode) and use the light from the screen to see where the baby is latching.
Burping: I’ve never burped my babies after nursing at night or before/during nap time. I usually let them roll onto their backs once they’re done nursing and go back to sleep. If you think your baby needs to be burped you can try placing them against your hip and burping them that way. If it doesn’t work you might have to sit up.
Sleep arrangement: Make sure you practice safe co-sleeping when breastfeeding while lying down: don’t have blankets or pillows near baby, make sure your baby can’t fall or get stuck between the mattress and wall and don’t drink or take a medication that can knock you out.
When to start nursing in bed: If this is your first time breastfeeding I would wait until your baby is at least 2 weeks older to try and nurse lying down. I personally think it gets easier for both mom and baby at around the 1-2 month mark.
How to breastfeed in bed when your baby doesn’t have good head control:
Lay sideways and put your baby lying sideways facing you.
Hold your bottom breast (the one touching the mattress) with one hand and help your baby latch. I like to hold my breast during the entire nursing session because when they’re little it’s easy for them to unlatch due to the lack of head control. Make sure the baby’s nose doesn’t get covered by your breast – another reason why I like holding my breast while she nurses.
I place my other hand behind the baby’s back and keep it there during the entire session so she doesn’t roll onto her back. You can also put a pillow on their back to help them stay in that position.
Sometimes nursing a small baby this way can get messy. To avoid getting milk on our sheets I used to put my baby to sleep on this organic pad. I used it for the first 3 months and I have 3 of them so I would just grab a new one each time one got wet during the night, which at first seemed to happen every night.
It will probably take you a few tries before both of you are comfortable in this position but keep trying until you master it.
How to breastfeed in bed when your baby has good head control:
Once your baby can move around and hold their head nursing in bed gets easier. Make sure you are lying sideways before you start breastfeeding. I put my baby sideways every time we start a nursing session in bed but I don’t hold her back anymore. I let my baby chose the position she wants: sometimes she will stay lying sideways and latch this way and other times she’ll move to her back and just turn her head sideways to nurse.
I usually don’t need to hold my breast when she’s bigger and has more head control although there are times I feel she gets a better latch when I’m holding it so just try to see what feels more comfortable for you and baby.
Even though my baby has better control by now I prefer to stay awake until she’s done nursing so I can move my breast away from her face when she’s done. I’m usually awake no longer than 5-10mins and because I didn’t get up I can do back to sleep faster.
How to breastfed from both breasts while lying on the same side:
You can move your baby around at night according to the side you want to nurse. However, I personally don’t like my baby sleeping next to my husband because he’s a deep sleeper so I prefer to keep her on the same side all night and alternate breasts without moving (she sleeps between me and this bed rail). Try this technique once you have mastered how to nurse lying in bed like explained above.
If I’m lying on my right side and want to nurse my baby from my left breast (top breast). The first thing I do is I make sure she had already nursed from my right breast so it’s empty or else it might be painful to lay on this breast. Then I lean forward so half the front of my body is against the mattress. My hips end up being in a 60 degree angle.
I put my left leg in front of my right one to help me keep balance and I help my baby latch onto the top breast. My baby is usually lying on her back when she breastfeeds this way. When nursing in this position I hold my breast during the entire session.
If you’re doing this for the first time move your body forwards until you find the right angle for your baby to latch. I recommend trying this before they are too hungry or they might get frustrated. You will figure out pretty fast what’s the optimal position for you.
Nursing in bed is very easy and allows you to sleep longer. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do it the first few times. As I said before it took me two months to figure it out with my first but it was well worth it. So don’t give up and keep on trying until you’re both comfortable nursing this way. You will feel much rested in the morning when you breastfeed lying down.
Do you nurse in bed? Any other tips you’d like to share?