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Breastfeeding while lying down

When you need more rest but baby needs a feed, try lying down.

lying down to feed

Babies need to be fed during the night and many mothers find being able to breastfeed while lying down helps them to get more rest. You may want to feed lying down during the day too.   

This information is about breastfeeding while lying down, not co-sleeping. There are special guidelines to make co-sleeping as safe as possible, which include your baby being on their back to sleep.

Suggestions for breastfeeding while lying down  

Get comfortable

  • 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. 

  • Roll your baby onto their side toward you and pull baby’s hips up close to your hips, letting their nose just gently make contact with your nipple. Younger babies who cannot stay in this position may need a small wrap or pillow behind their bottom (not near the head).  

  • Slide your baby up or down so that their nose is in line with your nipple and your arm is above their head. Keep your arm clear of baby's head to avoid making their head sweaty.   

  • 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 baby's head make the top points of the V). Check that baby's head is not squashed up against your breast.  

Help baby attach

  • 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. If your baby is good at self-attaching, you may not need to give them much help. Older babies can also often find their own way. 

  • Let baby reach up slightly with a wide gape and attach. 

  • Remember that with any position you try, it shouldn't hurt! If it doesn't feel comfortable, detach by putting your little finger into the corner of baby's 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. 

Changing positions

  • You may find that you need to sit up toward the end of a feed if your breast is feeling as though it is not draining evenly. 

  • Once your baby has finished the first side, you may be able to lean forward and feed from the top breast without changing sides. Just make sure that your lower breast is well-drained before switching to the upper breast. 

  • If you have larger breasts, you may need to roll yourself and your baby over to their other side to feed from the second breast. 

After the feed

  • If it feels comfortable, then you might find you and your baby both drop off to sleep. 

  • Remove the pillow from baby's bottom so they can roll onto their back and be clear of your breast. If baby is crawling or rolling, you will need to make sure that they are safe when you are asleep. 

  • If you choose to co-sleep, consider all the recommendations about how to make co-sleeping as safe as possible. 


© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022