Nursing Pillow: Usage, Benefits & Safety Tips

Feeding Pillow – Benefits and How to Use It

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Shruti Kainth (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Pregnancy is just half the story, and is more of a preparation ground for motherhood. After your delivery, one of the challenging experiences you will go through is breastfeeding. While some mothers are fortunate to have a smooth breastfeeding experience, many others go through difficulties. Breastfeeding can be challenging for you and your baby until you are both in sync with each other. This can take about 4-6 weeks, and a feeding pillow can help ease the journey.

Video : Uses and Benefits of Feeding Pillow During Breastfeeding

What Is a Feeding Pillow?

A feeding pillow (sometimes referred to as a nursing pillow) is a tool that is ergonomically designed to enhance the breastfeeding process.

How Do You Use a Feeding Pillow?

  • Step 1: For those who have a feeding pillow with a clasp, insert it sideways so that you can fasten the clasp with ease.
  • Step 2: Move it up to your breast level so that the baby doesn’t need to struggle to get a good latch on the nipple.
  • Step 3: You can recline a little to the back if you feel that the baby will find it easier to feed.
  • Step 4: A feeding pillow would sink down a little due to the weight of the baby. If the sinking is causing difficulty for your baby in latching onto your nipple, you can add regular pillows underneath between the pillow and your legs.
  • Step 5: Use your free hands to help swaddle the baby or adjust his/her head for a good latch.

The Benefits Of Using a Nursing Pillow

  • Sitting breastfeeding: There are many women who prefer to sit and breastfeed their children. It provides a good latching support system for the baby where they have easy access to the nipple.
  • Reduced Body Pain: An aching back and neck are some of the side effects associated with the breastfeeding learning curve. This happens because you must bring your baby up to your chest during feeding time. A feeding pillow eliminates any need for slouching or excessive bending.
  • Edge Over Conventional Pillows: A baby feeding pillow often comes equipped with latches to help fasten it to your body. There are some that have pockets which can be helpful as breastfeeding reduces your mobility.
  • Improved Baby Position: Most feeding pillows come with a raised platform for the baby’s head. This not only helps in proper latching but also reduces reflux action.
  • Multi-Utility: A nursing pillow can also be used for a baby’s tummy time as well as propping up your kid.
  • Dads Can Use It: Who says men can’t help with raising the kids? For those dads who want to bottle feed their babies, a nursing pillow can be a great support.
  • Pregnancy Usage: These pillows are versatile enough to be used before the baby is even born as they can also be used as pregnancy pillows.

The Benefits Of Using a Nursing Pillow

Are There Any Disadvantages Of a Nursing Pillow?

  • Double-edged sword: Improper use of a nursing pillow can cause poor latching as the baby sinks into the pillow and may find it hard to get access to the nipple.
  • Bulky: Moms who are always on the go may find it cumbersome to lug along the pillow wherever they go.
  • No standard size: Women of different body types will require nursing pillows of varied sizes. The lack of a standard measure may make it difficult to figure out which might be a good fit for the mother.

Tips for Buying a Nursing Pillow

  • Size: Just like buying clothes, the nursing pillows are the ones that fit you comfortably. If they are too loose, they may slip and make it difficult for the baby to latch. But if the pillow is too small, it may leave space between your thighs and the pillow and may slide down due to the baby’s weight.
  • Shape: They come in different shapes and sizes, each with its own benefits. For example, an ‘O’ shaped pillow is good for back support whereas a crescent-shaped pillow is good for baby head support. Firm pillows go well for small babies as they sink less whereas larger babies need soft pillows for more leg-room.
  • Portability: Mommies on the go may not be comfortable carrying around a big pillow with them. If you’re on the go, it may be beneficial to buy the smaller, portable models.
  • Stain resistance: Babies are messy and getting a pillow that doesn’t wash easily is going to leave marks. Consider purchasing only those which are easy to wash.
  • Fabric constitution: Infants have sensitive skin so it’s best to avoid synthetic material like polyester as it may cause skin irritation and rashes. Cotton is a healthy alternative that can be used. One must also avoid flame-retardant and wrinkle-free pillows (they contain formaldehyde and may be carcinogenic).
  • Good reviews: Talk to your friends, fellow first-time mommies and check online reviews. Sometimes, a product may look great on paper but performs poorly in live conditions.
  • Clasp: These keep the pillow secure and aid breastfeeding.

Some Safety Measures

A breastfeed pillow requires constant supervision on your part as it comes with the risk of cerebral asphyxia. This means death due to poor supply of oxygen to the brain. This happens when the baby is face down and is unable to recover from this dangerous position. As a precaution, parents can remove nursing pillows from the baby’s crib.

The feeding pillow is designed to enhance the breastfeeding experience by providing structural support as well as freeing the nursing mother’s hand. As there is a feeding pillow for each body type, you can physically try out a pillow before buying one.

Also Read:

Breastfeeding with Small Breasts: Concerns & Tips
Tips for Breastfeeding with Large Breasts
Myths & Facts About Breastfeeding Your Baby

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