Monday, August 2, 2010

Nursing pillows: World Breastfeeding Week 2010

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week [and National Breastfeeding Awareness Month], I would like to bring you a selection of nursing products that might help you as you begin or continue breastfeeding.

You truly don't need anything special to breastfeed, but that doesn't mean some items won't come in handy! Here is a roundup of some of the items I think would most help you as you pursue your nursing relationship. I've distinguished the nursing products by categories and will present each category on a separate day of World Breastfeeding Week [Sick baby has derailed my plans, so this will be more spread out — good thing it's also National Breastfeeding Awareness Month!]:

  • Nursing pillows
  • Nursing bras and clothing
  • Breast pumps and accessories
  • Nursing furniture — gliders and footstools
  • Other nursing accessories, such as pads, creams, other soothers, covers, and jewelry
  • Babywearing slings and wraps that make for easy nursing on the go

Categories and order might change as I write the posts, but that gives you an idea. There are quite a lot of helpful products out there!

Part of the reason I'm writing this series is to highlight some of the wonderful smaller companies I've had the privilege to affiliate with. I'll still draw in some big-name links as well, but many of these items are from smaller companies and sold at unique online stores. I hope you'll take a look at what else they have to offer and support the hard-working and innovative parenting designers and entrepreneurs among us. Because I am an affiliate of many of these companies, I'm pleased to pass on some special discount codes to you as well, so look for those to make your shopping sweeter.

I'd love to hear from you, too. Leave a comment or drop me a line about a product or company you love or would like to see featured, or your own review of any particular product. I haven't had a chance to try out absolutely everything, so I'm sure everyone would appreciate your feedback!

Today's installment of nursing products in honor of World Breastfeeding Week is nursing pillows!

Nursing pillows

Boppy Original Nursing Pillow w/ Slipcover - Lots o DotsNursing pillows are specialty cushions that help raise your baby to the correct height for easy latching. Again, you don't need anything special like this to breastfeed, but I found having a Boppy and My Brest Friend helped immensely in those earliest breastfeeding days. On the bed, I often used just a stack of bed pillows instead, but out in my glider in the living room, I preferred the firmness of a nursing pillow. Using a breastfeeding pillow will help you avoid hunching your back over and bringing your breast to the infant instead of the way you're supposed to do it: Bring the baby to the breast! It's much more comfortable that way, trust me, particularly if you're still recovering from the birth.

Nursing pillows, despite the term, can also be used for bottle feeding, so if that's something you or your co-caregivers would like to do, a pillow can come in handy for that as well.

I presented a bunch of these pillows on Hobo Mama last year, so I will recap and add a few here. Remember that eventually you'll likely both outgrow the need for pillows as your baby grows and gets better at latching at the right height. You can also simulate a nursing pillow when there's no other option by crossing one leg over the other to give your lap a little boost upwards. But when you want to be at your coziest with a newborn, these pillows should help make the start of your breastfeeding journey a little smoother.


Boppy nursing pillowThe Boppy (seen here at, which I think is a lovely and eco-minded baby store) is the easiest nursing pillow to find. Mine was an original standard version, and the slipcover I received as a gift was a baby-soft velour. I recommend the slipcover, just from cuddliness, though one would also come in handy if your baby spits up a lot, because it's easier to clean a pillowcase than a pillow.

The Boppy is a crescent-shaped pillow. The shape of the original Boppy is kind of narrow, which is why they added the "expandable miracle middle," though it still might be too pinchy for plus-sized figures.

What I like about the Boppy is it's pretty streamlined. Plus, since it is so ubiquitous, you don't feel goofy about taking out in public with you as needed.

The Boppy is curved on top, so your baby will tilt into you because of the slight incline. I liked this, because it set him up in a good latch position.

If you're tall (or high-breasted, I guess is more to the point), the Boppy might not be high enough for you. I found that sitting in a chair with close enough arms (like my favorite nursing glider) and balancing the Boppy across them worked pretty well, though.


My Brest Friend breastfeeding pillowThe My Brest Friend, linked here to Nursing Mother Supplies, a one-stop breastfeeding shop, is a very nice option and probably the second most popular nursing pillow. It is a little more expensive than the Boppy and has a sillier name (and it's going up against Boppy!). Don't let that stop you, though.

The My Brest Friend is entirely flat on top, not curved toward the sides. If you have trouble lining up your baby with the Boppy, it might help to have a more shelf-like surface. Some mothers adore the My Brest Friend for this reason, so give it a try if other pillows aren't working for you. The My Brest Friend is very firm, so the baby won't sink in or slide around on the surface.

The surface is also a little wider than the Boppy, so there's more room for a big baby (or, theoretically, multiples).

The My Brest Friend latches all the way around and buckles. The fact that it reaches all the way around means it gives a little lumbar support.

The other nice aspect of the reach-around is that it supports your arms as they work to support your baby's head. And, since this pillow is so firm, you could also do some hands-free nursing as you read a book or take a phone call.

The strap is adjustable, so it should fit a wide range of body types. That said, it most likely doesn't fit everyone, so try before you buy if possible. The back support, in particular, will be off-center the more the straps are expanded, since they expand on only one side.

There's also a little pocket in front. I never could figure out what to put there. Chapstick? The remote? Nursing pads? Breastfeeding necklace? The site's pictures suggest a water bottle or a teething ring. So there's an idea for you!

Those are the two pillows I personally tried. Following are some other pillows that have unique features and/or good reviews so that you can find the combination of pillow type and price point that work for you.


VIVA! Inflatable Breastfeeding PillowThe VIVA! Breastfeeding Pillow made by Summit Baby is pretty cool looking. First of all, it's inflatable. So it would be easy to travel with it. I'm imagining you wouldn't want to deflate it on a regular basis, but it would be great in a suitcase or tucked away for long-term storage till the next nursling comes along. And inflating means you get to choose how firm or soft it is. Secondly, it has full back support (taller than the My Brest Friend). And the pictures show that it expands to fit anywhere from a 22-inch to 44-inch waist, plus an extender if you need it, so it looks like a good option for plus-size mamas. If you compare the straps to the My Brest Friend, you'll see that the My Brest Friend expands on only one side, meaning the back support goes awry if you're over a certain size. This pillow expands evenly from both sides, keeping the back support centered.


Pixel Nursing PillowIf you're feeling posh, PoshTots has the
Pixel Nursing Pillow
, which is handcrafted in the USA and features a soft microsuede on the top and bottom for maximum comfort.


Nursing Pillow in Custom FabricsAlso at PoshTots, this
Nursing Pillow in Custom Fabrics
doesn't look much different from other pillows, but it allows you to choose from an array of elegant fabrics (seriously, that dots fabric is the most boring of the bunch — click over to check out all the intricate toile, chenille, and linen options) or even supply your own fabric, for perfect customization. So if you're an interior design fan as well as a breastfeeder, here's your answer for the ultimate in coordination.


The The Ultimate Green Store carries an Organic Cotton & Wool U-Shaped Nursing Pillow from Holy Lamb Organics. The stuffing is made with pure organic wool filling and the cloth cover is made from organic cotton. I love natural fabrics, and particularly wool for its various magic properties. I bet this pillow would breathe well and last a long time.


Cuddle-U Nursing Pillow The Cuddle-U Nursing Pillow And More is made in the USA by Leachco. The unique part of this pillow is the cuddly lap belt to soothe a baby who's not being held. So, if you have multiple kids or require that no baby in your arms or on your body at some point (in the shower, operating a chainsaw, etc.), that could come in handy. It also looks like a good size for a nursing pillow.


What I like about the Cuddoozle Infant Feeding Pillow is that it's made with hypoallergenic and anti-microbial memory foam and that it has a booster on one side to lift the baby's head higher to the breast. See more at

The following pillows are a different shape than the usual, which you might find visually or practically appealing. The lack of a strict crescent can be especially good for parents who find the standard pillows don't fit well around them, such as if you're plus size, or have C-section scars that are irritated by contact, or if you like to sit in deep chairs with high armrests. For whatever your reason, here are some new shapes to experiment with:


The Balboa Baby Nursing Pillow, shown here from the chic baby store giggle, is too gorgeous not to include. I also think the shape of it is innovative. It's more straight across with just a little curvature on the inside, so I think it would fit more body types. From the few reviews I was able to find online, it sounds like it's nice and firm and sits up pretty high, with only a little angling in to your body. The Balboa Baby information says the pillow is endorsed by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, RN. Also, it's pretty. So very, very pretty.


Luna Lullaby Bosom Baby Nursing PillowThe Bosom Baby Pillow, linked here from the fabulous Pink Taffy Designs, is bigger than the standard nursing pillows and is more of an L-shape or V-shape. This can make it fit multiple body shapes more easily and helps it fit into chairs better. Plus, it can be used as a maternity pillow for sleeping. It comes in a lot of cute prints as well.


Pollywog Nursing Positioner Baby Pillow The Pollywog Nursing Positioner Baby Pillow is unique in that it simply tilts the baby into the correct angle. It looks a little more streamlined than many of the nursing pillow options and would help angle the baby. Per the website's illustrated instructions, you can nurse in the football hold, which can be more comfortable if you've had a C-section or are tandem feeding, or tilt the anger higher, which would help babies with reflux.


The Snuggle Buddy Nursing and Maternity Pillow is one of the more free-form kidney-shaped pillows that could work for more belly sizes. I think it has a nice streamlined and modern look that wouldn't look out of place as a standard or decorative pillow. The details say it's hypoallergenic and that the design provides elbow support.

These pillows would come in handy for sleeping as well as nursing:


Nurse N Glow Lighted Nursing Pillow For cosleeping and breastfeeding, there's the Nurse N Glow Lighted Nursing Pillow. Having light — but not too much light — can be essential in those early breastfeeding-and-cosleeping days, when you need to make sure everything's lined up right and the baby's not being smothered, but you don't want to (heaven forbid) wake the baby to satisfy your anxieties. A gentle LED glow on a timer could be just the ticket. This isn't the type of pillow that you use sitting up — it's specifically for cosleeping, getting you lined up properly to nurse in a side-lying position (a sanity saver for the breastfeeding mama, because you can get some sleep finally!), and acting as a safety barrier between your baby and your partner or other bed-sharing children.


Snoogle Total Body PillowAlso from Leachco, the Snoogle Total Body Pillow gives you support during pregnancy. Having never used it, I'm not entirely convinced it's a safe option for cosleeping, but I do appreciate that it would offer the back, hip, head, and knee support I need as a cosleeping mama and that I absolutely required during pregnancy. Besides its use for sleeping, though, the Total Body Pillow can be wrapped around your waist for nursing, giving you full back support as well.


Leachco brings us the Back 'N Belly Contoured Body Pillow, another body pillow that can be used as a wrap-around nursing pillow. This pillow would definitely not work for safe cosleeping, but it could be invaluable during pregnancy sleep and then used as a nursing pillow thereafter.


The Serenity Star Transitional Pillow is a body pillow with a special feature: The three pieces come apart to make up a curved head pillow and two bolsters. That way, you could theoretically set aside one of the bolsters for cosleeping and side-lying nursing.

The pillows below are especially designed for tandem nursing multiples:


Double Blessings Twin Nursing PillowThe aptly named Double Blessings Twin Nursing Pillow gives you lots of pillow to love.


Basic Comfort Ultra Plush Nurse EZ Twin Pillow - BlueThe Nurse EZ Nursing Pillow offers you a wide surface, back support, buckle attachment, washable cover, and picture of color-coordinated babies and mother and pillow, which I think is swell. You, on the other hand, can feel free to clash wildly. If you're going to all the trouble of breastfeeding twins (or more!), it's the least I can offer you.


The Ez 2 Nurse Twins Nursing Pillow from Double Blessings looks nice and roomy and has a cushy Minky Dots slipcover with waterproof underlayer.

The following options are smaller support pillows for yourself, your baby, or your breast, for use either with or without a conventional nursing pillow:


To prop your young baby at a higher angle


To support large or heavy breasts


These can work either for sitting up and giving you lumbar support, or for lying on your side and nursing in bed.


If you don't need a whole pillow but do need some arm support, here you go.

A note about safety:

All breastfeeding pillows warn not to let baby sleep on them. In fact, the Boppy slipcover I have has a tag sporting a big SLEEP with a line through it, which I found poignantly amusing in those sleep-deprived newborn days. Now, chances are, your nursling's going to fall asleep on a breastfeeding pillow at some point. Ideally, you could then transfer your baby off the pillow and onto your lap or into a sling or into a bassinet or whatever, but, well, if you're anything like me … at some point, your baby will be sleeping on a breastfeeding pillow. My safety warning, then, is not to fall asleep yourself while your baby is sleeping on the pillow. Make sure you're aware of mouth and nose position and any breathing obstruction, and then enjoy the peacefulness. If this happens a lot, I think a My Brest Friend would be the safest pillow for infant napping, because of its flat and firm top, with the Boppy second and bed pillows a distant third, because of their squishiness. If you are going to fall asleep, transfer both of your sweet selves to an appropriate position in an appropriate bed. No baby under two years old should use a pillow for sleep, and any pillows you use yourself should stay well away from your baby's face to allow unobstructed breathing.

Coupons and deals

[ETA:] WondaWedge has offered a free WondaWedge Inflatable Back Support Pillow to one lucky reader! Click over to the giveaway post and leave a comment about how you would use the WondaWedge to enter. Contest ends Sept. 3 and is open to U.S. addresses.

Here are some discounts from the above mentioned stores that you can take advantage of as you're shopping for nursing pillows. Unless otherwise specified, deals are for U.S. addresses.

Disclosure: Many of these links are affiliate links.
I try to seek out only products I think you would find
relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent.
See my full disclosure policy here.


Missy said...

i had the cuddle-u with oscar and never really used it - gave it to my sister in law who used it a LOT. i was going to skip buying a nursing pillow this time around, but am now VERY intrigued by the nurse n glow!

Lauren Wayne said...

When I first saw the Nurse N Glow, I was thinking it looked like a novelty Glo-Worm, but the reviews are (ha ha, prepare yourself) glowing. I guess it helps keep the baby on his/her side in line with the breast, plus it keeps older sibs safely separated if you're cosleeping with a toddler as well. I remember those first weeks with a newborn absolutely needing a light but being annoyed that turning on a real lamp seemed to wake us all up, so a nice little glow … yeah, I can see the appeal!

SylkoZakur said...

My Brest Friend is NOT completely flat. It has a little bump on each end to help elevate baby's head. I hated the Boppy. It was too floppy and it slipped all the time (I fidget a lot). I loved My Brest Friend. LOVED it. i would recommend it to everyone. I also use it as a desk for my wireless keyboard now that I no longer use it for baby!

Oh, and that little pocket? I kept a nursing pad in there, a bottle of nipple cream. I've used it to hold the remote, a barette for my hair. I've put a water bottle in there. Just whatever. It's very handy to have.

sara* said...

That Nurse N Glow is awesome. Genius.

I love the My Brest Friend. But the pocket is usually empty. Sometimes there's an extra burp cloth stuffed in there.

Also, I've found that the Boppy is more comfy for me and Babe if I put it around me sideways. So it's open on the side I'm not nursing on, instead of open in the back. Remember that the Boppy was not originally designed for nursing, but for supporting a babe while starting to sit up.

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Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Coming late to this, but that top picture in the twin pillow section is actually an inflatable EZ 2 Nurse pillow (same as the bottom one, but inflatable instead of foam).

I have both the EZ 2 Nurse and the Nurse EZ (confusing names, much?) twin pillows. They both were better for me at different stages. I need to do a review of them on my own blog!

If I were only to get one, the EZ 2 Nurse would be it, since it was so critical in the early months, but the I am still using the Nurse EZ now at 27 months (its admittedly getting a little cramped, ha!).