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Breastfeeding while lying down

Babies need to be fed during the night and many mothers find learning to breastfeed while lying down helps them to get more rest. You may wish to feed lying down during the day too. This article is about breastfeeding while lying down, not co-sleeping. For guidelines to make co-sleeping as safe as possible, which include your baby being on their back to sleep, click here

Suggestions for breastfeeding while lying down 

  • Place your baby on his or her back in the middle of a large bed.
  • Lie on your side, next to your baby with your head on a pillow (make sure the pillow is not near your baby's head).
  • You can also put a pillow between your legs and one up against your back if these help with your comfort.
  • Slide your baby up or down if necessary so that his nose is in line with your nipple and your arm is above his head (don't rest his head on your arm). Keep your arm clear of his head or this might make his head sweaty.
  • Roll your baby onto his side toward you and pull his hips up close to your hips letting his nose just gently make contact with your nipple. If he is young and cannot stay in this position by himself, you could put a corner of a pillow up against his bottom (not near his head).
  • You might find your spine and your baby's spine make a v-shape (your hips together make the bottom of the v and your breast and his head make the top points of the v). His head is not squashed up against your breast.
  • You can use the arm that is not resting on the bed to shape the opposite breast and guide the nipple into the baby's mouth. Some mothers can let their baby latch on by themselves if they are good at attaching. Older babies can also often find their own way.
  • He can then reach up slightly with a wide gape and attach.
  • Remember that with any position you try, it shouldn't hurt! If you feel uncomfortable, detach him by putting your little finger into the corner of his mouth to break the seal and try again. You could also try on the other side if one side feels awkward to start with. If it still doesn't feel okay, try in a week or so when your baby gets more confident with feeding.
  • If it feels fine, then you might find you and your baby both drop off to sleep. Remove the pillow from his bottom so that he can roll onto his back and be clear of your breast. If he is a crawling or rolling baby you will need to make sure that he is safe if he can move when you are asleep.
  • If you choose to co-sleep please consider all the recommendations about how to make co-sleeping as safe as possible.
  • On occasion, some mums might find that they need to sit up toward the end of a feed if their breast is feeling as though it is not draining evenly.
  • Some mothers, particularly larger breasted women, find they will need to roll themselves and their baby over to their other side to feed from the second breast, whilst others will find that once they have fed from the lower breast they can just lean forward and feed from the top breast without changing sides. If you do choose the second alternative you will need to make sure that the lower breast is well drained before switching to the upper breast so that blockages in the milk ducts do not occur.
For more information see our Attachment to the breast article.


Breastfeeding and sleep

Breastfeeding: and sleep booklet

Breastfeeding and sleep helps you to work out your baby’s natural sleep pattern and give you ideas for settling your baby.

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© Australian Breastfeeding Association Reviewed May 2020

Last reviewed: 
May 2020