Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, other than tenderness in the first few days after birth. When I see pictures of young babies breastfeeding like the one on the left, I cringe and want to reposition them. Their face is unevenly touching the breast, the head is turning away from the body, and the body is really far away from mom. In this position, as baby tries to bring their head back to midline for more comfort, they literally give mom a “titty twister”. You can see the nipple twisting with tension on the areola even in this picture. This nipple twisting also pinches the nipple like pinching a straw and slows milk flow. When mom complains of nipple pain, the first thing to look at is baby’s position. In the second picture, baby’s face is coming straight and evenly to the breast and nipple. Their chin is pressing into the breast and the nose is off the breast allowing good breathing. This allows milk to freely flow and there’s no twisting or pinching of the nipple. Baby’s body is super close to mom which is more comfortable for baby’s head and neck. If you’re experiencing any nipple discomfort while breastfeeding today, check your baby’s position and see if it makes a difference.
As baby gets older and more proficient at breastfeeding (over six months) they can often wriggle into unusual positions and not cause pain. As long as you and baby are comfortable and there’s no nipple pain, position is up to you. .