Nursing mothers prefer nursing pillows, also known as feeding pillows or nursing cushions, to make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable. A breastfeeding mother’s feeding cushion is a U-shaped pillow that goes around her waist. During breastfeeding time, these pillows support the mother’s back, spine, and neck. In this post, we discuss why a feeding cushion is important during breastfeeding, how to use one, and the potential adverse effects of using it.
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.
When To Use A Feeding Pillow?
You may want to try a feeding pillow in the following cases:
- A study confirmed that 96% of breastfeeding mothers have discomfort in the lower abdomen, lower back, and breasts (1). Using a feeding pillow may alleviate your pain. Also, a pillow might help you manage the baby’s weight on your arm for extended periods.
- If the distance between the baby and the mother’s nipple is long, a feeding pillow may help the newborn come closer and find the nipple easily.
- If you exclusively breastfeed the baby.
Working mothers and those who travel frequently may use a feeding pillow as it eases the process of feeding.
How To Use A Feeding Pillow?
Commercial breastfeeding accessories such as 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 baby 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 you and your baby’s comfort.
- Rest your baby’s head on the pillow. It will support the baby well and also help the baby get a good latch.
- Go for a feeding pillow that comes with changeable covers, sometimes spit ups happen. Most of the commercial breastfeeding pillows are machine washable.
- Apart from the conventional ones, breastfeeding arm pillows are also available. Instead of going around the waist, these pillows can be slipped under the nursing mother’s arm and provide 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 possibly prevent 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 friction on the stitches.
- Feeding twins might be more convenient on a feeding pillow. Use a wide feeding pillow that will allow placing both babies comfortably.
- Some babies have acid reflux after eating. Placing them up against the feeding pillow might help prevent spit ups. Baby supplies such as a feeding pillow can be used as a burping pillow as well. Make sure to supervise the baby while he/she is on the pillow.
- If you have clogged milk ducts, you can utilize a dangle feeding position, where the baby lies on his/her back and you lean over the baby for feeding. It causes the breast to dangle and thus lets gravity help relieve the clogged duct. A feeding pillow is a helpful motherhood accessory that can make dangle feeding easier by allowing the baby to lie on.
- 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 (2). You can use the feeding pillow as a prop to help the baby during tummy time. Place the baby’s chest on the pillow. Supervise the baby throughout the session to ensure optimum infant care, so that the baby does not put his/her face on the pillow.
- Once the baby grows up a bit, the baby gears such as a 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 (3).
- 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 instead of mom’s arm. The pillow may also interfere with a good latch if the baby is just beginning to breastfeed. If using the pillow it is recommended to let the baby lay on your arm and use a pillow for arm support.
- If you get used to feeding with 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is a nursing pillow the same as a Boppy?
Boppy is the name of a company that makes nursing pillows. The Boppy Company is well-known for making C-shaped nursing pillows. Therefore, nursing pillows and Boppy can be considered the same.
2. Why can’t babies sleep in Boppy?
Products like baby loungers or sleeping pillows can increase the risk of suffocation in babies. Therefore, it is not safe to put your baby to sleep in a Boppy (4).
3. How long should a nursing pillow be used?
You can use a breastfeeding pillow as long as it is comfortable for you and your baby. Usually, your baby’s head and neck control will improve after four to six months, and you may not require a nursing pillow. Hence, if you wish, you may stop using the nursing pillow around this time. In case you are doubtful, you may seek your doctor’s guidance.
Feeding pillows or nursing pillows may help you have a comfortable breastfeeding experience. They support the mother’s back and provide an arm-resting place while you hold your baby. They are also available in sizes suitable for feeding twins simultaneously. Apart from breastfeeding, you may use these pillows for tummy time activities or to support the baby when sitting. One size may not fit all, and you need to select the one best for you. Feel free to discuss with your lactation consultant to ensure you follow the correct breastfeeding methods when using a feeding pillow.
Infographic: Advantages Of A Feeding Pillow
A feeding pillow can provide considerable support and comfort for mothers while breastfeeding and aid in preventing back and neck pain. This infographic states more legitimate reasons why purchasing a feeding pillow is a good idea for a safe, satisfying, and comforting breastfeeding experience for you and your baby. Read on!
- Nursing mothers use feeding cushions to simplify and make breastfeeding more comfortable.
- Feeding pillows come in two shapes: the “O” shape and the “C” shape.
- A feeding pillow should be worn around the waist and comfortably adjusted.
- The pillow can be used for back support during pregnancy, preventing inappropriate postures, and nursing twins.
- Additionally, it can be used for dangling feeding, tummy time, burping, and teaching the infant to sit.
- Choosing a feeding pillow made of hypoallergenic material and with two washable covers is recommended.
1. The use of breastfeeding pillow to reduce discomfort for breastfeeding mothers; National Library of Medicine
2. Tummy Time; American Academy of Pediatrics
3. Nursing Pillows: Who Needs Them?; Breastfeeding USA Organization
4. The Boppy Company Recalls Over 3 Million Original Newborn Loungers, Boppy Preferred Newborn Loungers and Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Loungers After 8 Infant Deaths; Suffocation Risk; United States Consumer Product Safety Commission