In shopping for things to add to your baby registry, you may have seen nursing pillows as a suggested item for you to add to your list. But what is a nursing pillow? And how do you use one? Read on.
What is a Nursing Pillow?
A nursing pillow, elsewhere referred to as a “breast-feeding pillow,” helps both you and your baby get the most of the nursing experience by allowing the baby to settle into the most efficient position in which he or she can nurse.
The pillow also provides you with more support for both your back and your arm while you nurse.
Some pillows live up to their name, in that they are thicker and stuffier “pillows,” though you can also find nursing pillows that look more like a wedge.
You can even start reaping the benefits of a nursing pillow before your baby is even born by placing the pillow or wedge up against your back as vertebral support.
This will assist you in getting a better night sleep while pregnant, as well as in being able to sit more comfortably in a chair.
The nursing pillow can also be used to encourage the strengthening of your baby’s muscles. Whether it’s sitting up to attempt self-feeding, or laying on his or her tummy on the pillow and moving her arms and legs around, the nursing pillow has certainly proven that it can be utilized for much more than nursing.
Another bonus of a nursing pillow is that it can encourage stronger bonding between baby and Daddy.
Daddy too can prop the baby up in the pillow while feeding him or her. In this way, Daddy can also enjoy some much-needed muscle relief while the pillow does some of the work for him, and he can spend more quality time holding his baby.
Breast-feeding can be stressful on your spine as a result of all of the hunching over you may be doing while nursing, which can add back pain to the uncomfortability you may already be experiencing.
Nursing pillows are helpful in reducing that kind of muscle strain as well by lifting the baby up higher so that you do not need to hunch down lower.
Proper Use of Your Nursing Pillow
Of course, it is important that you know how to properly use a nursing pillow, otherwise it could be doing more harm than good for your baby. The same goes for you, too.
As far as how your baby could be at a disadvantage from improper use of the nursing pillow, for one thing, if you don’t hold the baby in the correct position, he or she could develop issues with gastric reflux and could even experience difficulty when swallowing later on.
What you’ll want to do is place the nursing pillow along the arm that is on whichever side from which you will be nursing.
Then, place the baby onto it in what is known as a “football hold,” which is putting his or her feet under your arm and facing your back, while positioning him or her so that his or her tummy is up against your own.
The pillow will then act as support for the baby as he or she nurses along the side of your body. (If the pillow had adjustable straps, be sure to use them in an effort to ensure that your baby is in the proper position.)
If you use the pillow in this way, you should notice the pillow taking over some of the work of holding the baby, giving your arm the relief that it will increasingly need as your baby grows and becomes heavier.
Moms of twins are often grateful for the nursing pillow, as it offers them that extra arm they need when trying to feed two hungry mouths at the same time. All Mom needs to do is place each baby along each arm of the pillow while following the proper usage instructions above.
Using Nursing Pillows While Bottle-Feeding
Don’t be put off that just because the pillow has the word “nursing” in it, that this means that you have to use it exclusively for nursing. Nursing pillows are effective when bottle-feeding as well.
You might even find the positioning to be easier than that which is used in nursing.
When bottle-feeding, simply find a comfortable chair in which to sit, then lay the pillow in your lap. Whichever arm you will be using to support the baby’s head should be then rested on the pillow.
Now feed the baby with the bottle. The baby should be on a slight incline. This is not only a great position for Mommy, but it’s also a big help to anyone else who might want to try their hand at feeding the baby, like Daddy or another one of your children.
If you are bottle-feeding while using a pillow that is more of a wedge shape, you may find it to be easier if you put the baby on the pillow, then hold the baby in position with your arm circling the top of his or her head.
Your arm will act as a bumper of sorts, keeping baby from wriggling around as much while eating.
It is important that you know how to properly use a nursing pillow for both you and your baby, else you could end up doing a disservice to the both of you.
Be prepared to educate others as well who may want to use the nursing pillow when feeding baby.
You’ll have peace of mind knowing that they are doing all they can to ensure that both they and baby are benefiting from the pillow’s assistance and not suffering as a result of using it incorrectly.