Kristine Kovach

When I see new moms right after birth, many are convinced the cute nursing pillow their neighbor, friend, sister-in-law highly recommended will practically feed the baby for them. It’s natural to assume such a cute and seemingly straightforward item would be a must-have, yes? In truth, I like to joke that my own daughter recently got into a great college despite the fact that the nursing pillow we received for a shower gift never really worked for us. I ultimately defaulted very successfully to a simple occasional pillow I found at a Stein Mart.

After years of watching and helping moms and babies feed in my capacity as a Lactation Consultant, here’s my take on nursing pillows:

  • One size does not fit all. And, immediately postpartu, when our bellies are still a little…um…prominent, no size seems to fit ANYone for at least a few days, so don’t get discouraged.
  • So, for your own comfort, consider taking a couple of your own freshly laundered, best-loved pillows from home when you deliver your baby. Your own pillows will smell like home and can serve double duty as a more malleable platform for your earliest feeds.
  • Pillows at the hospital are often thin, vinyl and in short supply. Dad can use those!
  • Once you’re home and feeding on your own couches and chairs, consider your size as well as the size of your new little sweetie when getting the best positions for feeds.
  • I’m a small-breasted, petite mom who is very short waisted. My children were born as surprising St. Bernard puppies, each weighing in at over 8 lbs. A pillow support that worked wonderfully for my gorgeous neighbor; a 5ft 8 in, long waisted, model of a woman with a 5lb infant, proved too thick for my super sized kids. (Unless of course they were planning to latch to my chin.)
  • Stein Mart to the rescue!
  • The real truth is that you honestly may never need a special “scaffolding” to make great breastfeeds happen. Your own dimensions and proportions will dictate what’s comfortable.
  • Try the nursing pillow of  a friend or relative while you’re pregnant. Sit in a chair facing a full length mirror and see if the fit is realistic. Compare those to what’s available in stores and what you’ve got on hand.

If any pillow in particular impresses me as the most broadly adaptable, it’s a small, angled wedge like this one from jjcole collections

Bottom line:

Abraham Lincoln’s mother never had a boppy and her boy did pretty well for himself.

This is the type I keep in my office that seems most versatile and smaller than the average Volvo :). This is NOT a must have item and deserves some thought and flexibility when it IS purchased. But, regular buckwheat, traditional and “memory foam” type bed pillows seem just as useful and common.

Happy nursing!

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