Upright Breastfeeding Positions

Breastfeeding Positions Jan 05, 2021

The Upright Hold

Breastfeeding is one of the most common and natural acts in the world – but it takes practice!

For something that is intrinsically ours as women, it sure does take a lot of trial and error for most of us!  Finding a breastfeeding position that works for you and your baby is well worth the effort, because even though your mind is consumed with thoughts of love and affection for your baba – all THEY are thinking is – when is my next meal coming!

So let me introduce you to the upright feeding position.  It is also called the "Koala" or "Saddle position" or the "Australian feeding position."

Firstly, let me just reassure you that there is no right or wrong way to breastfeed.  If you have found a position that is comfortable for both you and baby, then hang on to it!  The main thing is that your baby is positioned and latching well and that he or she is getting the nutrition they need.

If you’ve already had your baby, you would have soon realized that your little bundle of joy comes with likes and dislikes. They can be extraordinarily feisty and demanding, especially if you are a few seconds late in whipping off your shirt and presenting them with your bosom. Some babies prefer to feed in the upright position, and some just won’t latch in this position at all.

The Upright Hold works very well for the slightly older baby, who can already hold their head up. If you have a particularly active baby who loves to look around, this position gives them a better view of their surroundings.

Australian breastfeeding hold, upright breastfeeding hold

This upright position is quite helpful for the following:

  • Painful nipples! This position helps reduce nipple pain and blocked ducts, and some babies latch very easily in this position.  Some babies seem to inflict injury to just one part of the nipple, so changing their current position to the upright position, may reduce the damage to that one area.
  • Forceful let-down reflex.  It is fairly useful to moms who have a quite vigorous let-down reflex as they can lean back and slow down the flow a little.  It helps prevent the baby from choking and spluttering from fast flowing milk.
  • Excess wind or colic.  In this position, gravity helps keep the milk in the baby’s tummy after he/she has swallowed, rather than coming back up.  This also helps them burp a little easier.
  • Size of the baby.  If your baby is getting a little too heavy to hold in a cradle position, then the upright position may take a bit of strain off of your body.
  • Mastitis and blocked ducts.  This position drains the milk from the lower part of the breast, and this could help moms who are struggling with blocked ducts or mastitis in this area.
  • Babies with runny noses or blocked ears. If your baby suffers from any mouth deformities or difficulties (cleft pallet, breathing or swallowing issues) or you have a reflux baby – then this position may be beneficial.
  • If your baby is particularly fond of being in the sling or pouch, this method of feeding fits perfectly and the mom can nurse while standing or walking.

To use the upright breastfeeding position:

  • One of the most important things is to make sure that your baby’s head and neck are supported and that they are in alignment.
  • Sit comfortably in a chair. If it is easier for you, recline a little.
  • With you in this upright position, have your baby straddle your leg, with their head facing your breast.
  • You would want his body to be gently pressed against yours.  So this would be like a tummy to tummy cuddle position.
  • The baby sits straight up and feeds on the breast, which is on the same side that he is facing.
  • Support baby’s head with the arm on the same side that baby is feeding.  Even though the head is supported, make sure they can tilt their head back to feed.
  • Let your baby lean forward towards your breast, allowing them to find the nipple.
  • You may need to move your breast a little to get them latching well.
  • If your baby is not long enough to reach the breast, you can fold a towel or place a pillow under the baby to raise them higher so that they reach the nipple comfortably.
  • Baby’s nose should be in line with the nipple.  You could brush the baby’s nose with the nipple to encourage him/her to open their mouth widely and latch on.
  • If it doesn’t feel comfortable, put your clean finger into your baby’s mouth to release the latch and try again.

When all is said and done, as long as you are comfortable, your baby is latching well, and breastfeeding is a happy time (more or less), then whichever breastfeeding position you use, is ultimately right.

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References and extra resources

1. Gray, Krista. Nursing Nurture. [Online] http://www.nursingnurture.com/breastfeeding-positions/.2. Breastfeeding Babies. [Online] http://www.breastfeeding-babies.com/saddle-position.html.

3. Sparks, Charlotte. Charlotte Keating ENGLAND Maternity & Nursingwear. [Online] https://www.charlottekeating.com/blogs.


Tracy Behr

A homeschooling mother of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural!