Nursing pillows, also known as feeding pillows, are commonly used by nursing mothers to make breastfeeding comfortable and convenient. Feeding pillows are U-shaped pillows that go around the breastfeeding mother’s waist. These breastfeeding pillows help provide back, neck, and spinal support to the mother during the nursing session.
In this MomJunction post, we tell you about the necessity of a feeding pillow, its usage, and probable side effects of using them.
Is A Feeding Pillow Necessary?
A feeding pillow is not a necessity but a choice the mother can make. The pillow provides a place to rest your arm while also supporting the baby.
Some women find it comfortable as feeding support, while some do not find it necessary. You may borrow a feeding pillow and see if you find it comfortable and essential before buying it for yourself.
How To Use A Feeding Pillow?
Commercial breastfeeding pillows usually have a specialized U-shape design when compared to regular pillows. Here are a few tips on how to use a standard breastfeeding pillow.
- Put the feeding pillow around your waist before lifting the baby in your arms.
- Settle in a feeding position that helps you hold your baby as close to your body as possible.
- Some adjustable nursing pillows come with straps that you can tie around yourself and secure the pillow snugly.
- Adjust the straps and the height of the pillow according to your comfort.
- Rest your baby’s head on the pillow. It will support the baby well and also help the baby get a good latch.
- If the baby spits or throws up on the nursing pillow while you are feeding, then wash the pillow. Go for feeding pillows that come with changeable covers. Most of the commercial breastfeeding pillows are washing machine safe.
- Apart from the conventional ones, breastfeeding arm pillows are also available. Instead of going around the waist, these pillows can be slipped onto the nursing mother’s arm and help in providing head support to the baby.
Uses Of A Feeding Pillow
These benefits are not limited only to breastfeeding sessions. A feeding pillow can benefit you and the baby in the following ways.
- Even before you start breastfeeding, it can be used as a good back support cushion during pregnancy.
- If the breastfeeding position is incorrect, then you may strain your neck, shoulders, or back. The pillow will help you hold the baby at a comfortable height and avoid incorrect postures.
- In the case of a C-section, the surgical site takes a few weeks to heal completely. The feeding pillow can help prevent pressure on the stitches while feeding the baby. It is suggested to cover the stitches with a nursing cloth and then use the feeding pillow to avoid any effect on the stitches.
- Feeding twins might be more convenient on a feeding pillow. Use a wide feeding pillow that will allow placing both the babies comfortably.
- Some babies have acid reflux after eating. Placing them up against the feeding pillow might help prevent the flow of stomach contents into the mouth. The pillows can be used as a burping pillow as well.
- If you have clogged milk ducts, then you can choose a dangle feeding position where the baby lies on their back and you lean over the baby for feeding. It causes the breast to dangle and thus lets gravity help in the flow of the milk. A feeding pillow can make dangle feeding easier by allowing the baby to lie on it and reach the breast.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, tummy time is essential for infants as it helps in strengthening the muscles of the neck and the back (1). You can use the feeding pillow as a prop to help the baby during tummy time. Place the baby’s chest on the pillow. Be careful that the baby does not pinch his/her nose on the pillow.
- Once the baby grows up a bit, the feeding pillow can also be used to help them learn to sit. Keep it around the baby’s legs so that they don’t hurt their head if they topple.
Side Effects Of Nursing Pillows
In spite of various benefits, there are a few side effects of using a nursing pillow (2).
- Nursing pillows do not come in different sizes. One size may not fit all. Ill-fitting nursing pillows can cause more strain.
- Ill-fitting nursing pillows may cause backache and soreness of arm muscles in mothers.
- Some babies may find it uncomfortable to breastfeed while lying on a breastfeeding pillow. The pillow may also interfere with a good latch if the baby is just beginning to breastfeed.
- If your baby gets used to feeding while lying on a nursing pillow, then it may be difficult to feed the little one when you do not have the pillow in situations such as traveling.
Feeding pillows are designed to aid in having a comfortable breastfeeding experience. With fatigue and postpartum sleep loss, some women feel the feeding pillow to be an extra arm that helps support the baby.
Do not go by what others say and use it if you find it comfortable for yourself. You can discuss it with your lactation consultant and find the correct way to feed your baby for a smooth breastfeeding experience.
2. Nursing Pillows: Who Needs Them?; Breastfeeding USA Organization