Dangle Feeding: What’s Involved, Benefits & When To Try It

| Reviewed By Sarah Schulze, MSN, APRN, CPNP

Although dangling feeding may not be a widely used or preferred nursing position, it can offer benefits in specific situations.

What is dangle feeding? Dangle feeding is a nursing position in which a mother lays her baby flat on his back and dangles their breast above the baby’s mouth to feed. Mothers will usually be on all fours or in a crouched position. The best reason to use dangle feeding is to help clear a clogged milk duct. 

Dangle feeding is a good trick to have in the breastfeeding mother’s toolbag. Knowing how and when to use it are important things to focus on in order to use it safely.

Dangle Feeding: What To Know

Because it isn’t the most common way to nurse, moms should do a little research before they attempt this style. This is to help ensure the comfort of the mother, the safety of the baby, and the effectiveness of the position. 

Dangle Nursing Position

This position is rather different than most of the more common nursing positions.

A mother will place her baby in a flat position either on her legs or a different flat surface. She will then crouch over the baby on all fours or lean over the baby and position her breast over the baby’s mouth. 

Is Dangle Feeding Safe? 

Most lactation consultants agree that dangle feeding is a safe way to feed your baby. It allows the mother a lot of control over positioning. Dangle feeding also allows mothers to have a clear view of the baby’s face. 

Does Dangle Feeding Work?

Dangle feeding is very effective when trying to clear up clogged milk ducts. A clogged milk duct that becomes infected is called mastitis.

Dangle feeding allows for gravity to help unclog the milk duct while the baby nurses. Massaging the breast can also help to unclog the clogged duct. 

Dangle Feeding Benefits 

Dangle feeding helps unclog milk ducts as mentioned above. Many mothers also feel that it helps newborn babies learn to latch better and helps moms see their babies’ faces so they are able to better monitor how the baby is latching.

Dangle feeding is also considered a better way to clear a clogged duct than a breast pump. 

How Do You Comfortably Dangle Feed?

Dangle feeding does require a rather awkward position for the mother. For this reason, it isn’t considered a long-term solution for breastfeeding.

Positioning pillows around the arms and legs could help this position be more comfortable. Massaging the breast might also make the clogged ducts resolve faster and make this position not needed as long.

To comfortably dangle feed:

  1. Position baby comfortably and safely below you.
  2. Balance yourself on either your hands or knees or lean over the baby.
  3. Add pillows to your knees or elbows to make this position more comfortable. 

Dangle Pumping

The dangle feeding position can also be used when pumping. Dangle pumping can be done with either hand expression or a breast pump. 

What Is Dangle Pumping?

Dangle pumping is pumping while leaning forward to allow gravity to pull milk from the breasts easier. This position can also help unclog a milk duct.

Dangle pumping is usually done in the sitting position whereas dangle feeding involves crouching over the baby. 

Why Does Dangle Pumping Work?

Dangle pumping is effective because it uses gravity rather than fighting it. Leaning forward with nipples pointing toward the floor helps pull milk from the breast faster and easier. 

How To Dangle Pump

As with dangle feeding, many mothers don’t know how to dangle pump effectively as it is not common. The steps to dangle pumping are:

  • Position yourself in a sitting position with your nipples pointing to the floor.
  • Position the breast shield or flange over the nipple, and begin pumping, whether by hand or with a machine. 
  • You can rest your head on a table or a soft surface to make this more comfortable. 
  • Experts also recommend using a nursing pillow or a bolster to make this feel more supported. 

Dealing With a Clogged Milk Duct

Clogged milk ducts are a fairly common problem for breastfeeding mothers. There are several ways to ease the pain of a clogged duct and hopefully prevent it from getting infected. 

What Does a Clogged Milk Duct Feel Like? 

The symptoms of a clogged duct are pain, a hard lump in the breast or a warm and painful spot on the breast. A clogged duct can also look like an engorged wedge-like shape on the breast at the spot of the clogged duct. 

What Causes a Clogged Milk Duct?

There are several reasons a clogged milk duct could occur. Many of them go hand in hand with breastfeeding, especially breastfeeding newborns.

Clogged ducts are most commonly caused by inadequate breast emptying or pressure on the breast, both of which cause inflammation of breast tissue and surrounding blood vessels. 

Missed feedings, poor latch, pressure on the breast while feeding, underwire bras, and rushed feedings can all contribute to clogged ducts. 

How To Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts

Experts tend to say that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when it comes to preventing clogged milk ducts. Lactation consultants recommend that moms make sure there is a proper latch at every feeding.

Mothers should also use various positions when nursing to try and empty the breast completely at each feeding.

Consultants also recommend using a good quality nipple cream (this one is recommended by thousands of moms) for cracked or dry nipples to help prevent clogged ducts. 

How To Unclog a Milk Duct Fast

Clogged ducts should be treated quickly and aggressively to prevent infection.

Massage the breast while feeding or pumping. Heat compresses on the affected area can also help. Dangle feeding or pumping can also aid in clearing the clog quickly. 

Related Questions:

Does Milk Supply Decrease After Clogged Duct?

Milk supply might decrease from the clogged duct as the milk cannot move freely out of the duct.

The goal with a clogged duct is to express milk more frequently whether by hand or by nursing so that the milk production is not affected or recovers quickly.

Should the clogged duct get infected, milk production could decrease but usually returns to normal after a few days once the mastitis is treated. 

How Long Do Clogged Ducts Last?

Most clogged ducts resolve on their own within 24-48 hours. The important thing for mothers to remember is to continue feeding normally or even more often to help remove the clog. 

Conclusion

Breastfeeding your baby can be a wonderful experience for both mom and baby. Clogged ducts and mastitis are common issues that affect about 20% of breastfeeding mothers.

Knowing a few tricks to try when and if these problems arise can help moms continue to feed their babies how they choose.

Should you find a hard lump or encounter pain while breastfeeding, dangle feeding or pumping could help resolve the issue.