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6 Breastfeeding Positions for the Real World

Photograph by Getty Images

When you add it all up, I've spent more than four years of my life in various stages of breastfeeding and weaning my children. It was a long road and, quite frankly, for a while there I was worried my youngest was never going to give up her bedtime feeding. But honestly, those stolen moments spent cuddling and nursing my little babies were some of the sweetest, happiest and most tender of all my years as a mother.

They were also some of the most stressful, awkward and uncomfortable moments.

That's because nursing sessions aren't always spent gazing soulfully into your infant's eyes in the blissful, quiet privacy of her nursery. Sometimes your baby demands to be fed when you're in the middle of housewares at Target, causing your milk to soak two tell-tale circles through the front of your T-shirt while you figure out a way to casually nurse standing up behind the hanging shower curtain samples.

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As a result, I learned a few practical tips during those four years of breastfeeding. The hospital's lactation consultant will teach new moms the Football Hold and Cross Cradle nursing positions, and those are great — but here are some other positions nursing moms need to know, and the circumstances when they're handy.

1. The Hunch-Over: With your back curled forward until your torso is practically a sphere, this position is useful when maximum coverage is needed — for example, in a room where the door won't lock during a family function and your father-in-law might wander in at any moment.

2. The Criss-Cross-Crouch: Use this one when you don't want to stand, but there's nowhere to sit, like at the beach when you want to avoid getting hot sand in your suit. Simply fold up all your limbs until you look like a broken lawn chair, cradle your baby in the nest of arms and bent legs, and rock precariously on the balls of your feet. WHAT COULD BE MORE COMFORTABLE?

3. The Side-Lying Stretch: Many moms find that the best way to get baby back to sleep at night is by lying next to her in bed. However, experienced moms also find that lying in bed next to a nursing baby for the 400th night in a row can get super boring. From a reclined position, slowly stretch your upper body — without budging any part that's touching the baby, somehow — until you can reach the Kindle you left on the nightstand.

4. The Lunge: Moms are notoriously tired, and their arms are no exception. Propping one foot up on an elevated surface and supporting your elbow on your thigh is a great way to give those weary arms a break while breastfeeding. If you're potty training an older child, chances are you've used this maneuver many, many times while leaning on the edge of the bathtub.

Whether you bare it all or bundle your baby under a blanket ... know you're doing a natural, beautiful thing.

5. The Folder Wall: Using a breast pump at the office? Surround yourself with propped-up folders if you're nervous about coworkers barging in during your lunch hour/afternoon pumping session (although, one might argue that exposing them to the sight of electronic suction in action is a good way to remind them to mind their own business).

RELATED: I'm Still Breastfeeding My Toddler, and I Can't Believe It Either

6. The Bold and the Beautiful: I'm not going to get into the debate over whether or not it's "socially acceptable" to breastfeed in public. The fact is, if you're nursing and you leave the house, at some point it's bound to happen. Some bolder, breast-baring mamas take a "Check out my chest, IF YOU DARE" approach, while others prefer more discreetly covered-up, "If you notice I'm nursing then you're paying way too much attention, weirdo" methods. Whether you bare it all or bundle your baby under a blanket, sit tall, sit proud and sit pretty and know you're doing a natural, beautiful thing.

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