Among all the items recommended for purchasing when having your baby, you might find a breastfeeding pillow on the list. But do you need one? And how do you choose the right one? Here we explore some of the features of a nursing pillow to help you consider which features are most important to you when you choose a pillow.
What is a Breastfeeding Pillow?
A breastfeeding pillow, also referred to as a ‘nursing pillow’ is designed to help you and your baby find the most comfortable and efficient position to assist with breastfeeding. The pillow will also help you by providing support for your back and your arm while you feed.
Choosing the right nursing pillow
There are many different nursing pillows available, but how do you choose the right one? Can you just use one you have already?
When choosing a breastfeeding pillow you want to look for something that is thicker and firmer than your average pillow. You want the pillow to be able to assist you to bring your baby to your breast by helping to elevate them into the correct position. You don’t want your baby to sink into the pillow as the pillow is designed to help you, not give your baby a comfy place to sleep! You may find for newborns that you need a higher pillow so would look for something thicker and firmer to bring your little one up higher to the breast. However if you are shorter you might find a smaller pillow is all that is required.
Shape of the pillow
You might want to look at the shape of the breastfeeding pillows and how these fit against your body. Some pillows have a wedge shape, some have curved shape or a tri-shape, others have a u-shape that may clasp at the back and attach around your body. The choice is a personal preference – if you are already breastfeeding you may have already developed a preference for a position and know exactly where you are looking for support.
The benefits of a curved or tri-shape pillow is that you can position these around you and then move your baby around without needing to reposition the pillow. But these pillows are usually larger and less portable than the smaller wedge style pillows.
Multiple uses of the pillow
If you are currently pregnant and thinking about purchasing a pillow, you may want to consider the multiple uses that various pillows can provide. Some pillows work well as maternity pillows providing back support or belly support when sleeping during pregnancy and then provide the dual purpose as a nursing pillow after birth. Tri-pillows are often chosen for breastfeeding and use during sleep.
Some of the firmer u-shaped pillows can also double up for support for your baby helping to support them with sitting or play when the time comes or even tummy time while they move their arms and legs around and strengthening their muscles. If you choose to use a nursing pillow in these circumstances remember to never leave your baby unsupervised while using the pillow.
Other factors when choosing a nursing pillow
With so many options available you may also like to consider other benefits of the pillow you are choosing.
Is it portable? Some pillows have handles for easy carrying or hooking onto things. Others have pockets so that you can easily carry bits and pieces with you like bibs. We even sell one that has a cover that can be converted into a handbag when you have finished breastfeeding.
Does the pillow have a removable cover or a replaceable one? It is best to choose a pillow with a cover that can be removed and washed. If you can get replacement cover you may want to consider these so you can have one in the wash and one on. And if you like variety you can choose different covers so its like having a new pillow.
Is the pillow itself washable? This can be important. Some are easily washable in your machine, others have a wipe down cover inside. Your pillow should come with instructions if you are able to wash it.
The right pillow will last the distance
I used a breastfeeding pillow with my kids. I found it to be one of the most useful items I ever bought.
I still have my Milkbar from when I breastfed my daughter – she is now five and it has become one of favourite pillows in the house. As I sit here and type this on my couch, my Milkbar is placed to give me back support. I never sit on the couch without it. We also use it for afternoon naps as after 5 years of daily use this pillow still holds its shape and firmness. Recently I had to spend a few nights in hospital and my daughter used the Milkbar as her cuddle pillow during the night when she missed her mum.
So make it last the distance and choose a breastfeeding pillow that provides you with comfort and practicality while you are breastfeeding and will give you a secondary use beyond that.
Next week we will look at How to use your Breastfeeding Pillow…