Benefits of a Nursing Pillow: What You Should Know - Baby Chick

Benefits of a Nursing Pillow: What You Should Know

Learn the benefits of a nursing pillow, how it helps get your baby into an ideal breastfeeding position, and what to consider when buying one.

Updated November 17, 2023

by Casey Williams

Registered Nurse and IBCLC
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When it comes to breastfeeding in those first newborn days, it can feel like there are a million moving parts to get your baby on the breast with a “perfect” latch and breastfeeding successfully. With so much going on, recommended breastfeeding techniques can be easily overlooked and leave mom with not only sore nipples but also an aching back or neck. Let’s take the part where mom’s back is killing her while nursing out of the equation by bringing in a nursing pillow. Nursing pillows are excellent tools to help you get your little one into an ideal position for breastfeeding.

What Is a Nursing Pillow?

Collage of breastfeeding pillows

Nursing pillows are breastfeeding tools used to support the baby and assist in making breastfeeding as comfortable as possible for the mom. The nursing pillow allows the mom to help adjust the baby into an ideal position for successful breastfeeding.1 Most commonly, a breastfeeding pillow will come across the front of the mother’s abdomen and wrap around her slightly above the hips. Nursing pillows are generally found in a C- or U-like shape and made of a foam material. Many breastfeeding pillows come in various forms, sizes, and colors. Two of the most common brands are Boppy and My Brest Friend.

What Is a Nursing Pillow For?

A multiracial woman sits on a chair at home and breastfeeds her baby while talking with her cute toddler daughter who is watching with curiosity.

Nursing pillows are designed to help your baby be propped up into an ideal breastfeeding position, helping mom and baby breastfeed comfortably with optimal support. Commonly, breastfeeding mothers will have complaints of a sore back or neck. This usually comes as a result of the mom moving her body down to the baby’s level to latch and feed. Breastfeeding pillows allow mom to position baby in a more supported and higher-up position, bringing baby up to her.

This support allows for a better position for the mom to work on the baby having a good latch and helps prevent the mom from being hunched over and causing stress on her back and neck areas. When breastfeeding is comfortable for both baby and mother, it will be easier to meet breastfeeding goals and have a successful breastfeeding journey.1

How To Use a Boppy Pillow

Mom using a breastfeeding pillow while she is nursing her baby
via Boppy

The Boppy pillow has a simple, user-friendly design. With both of my daughters, I chose to use the Original Support Nursing Pillow by Boppy for breastfeeding. I found the Boppy to be easy to use, and it offered the perfect amount of support for me to breastfeed comfortably. Although colors and design were not at the top of my priority list when looking for the ideal pillow for breastfeeding, it was nice to see the large variety of prints and colors available to choose from. The size of the Boppy made this feeding pillow convenient to bring anywhere I went.

Here’s how to use the Boppy Pillow:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position.
  2. Place the opening of the pillow around your waist or side, depending on where you need support for your preferred breastfeeding position.
  3. You are now ready to feed your baby.

How To Use a My Brest Friend Pillow

Another commonly recommended breastfeeding pillow is the My Brest Friend pillow. This feeding pillow offers a backrest to help give support to mom’s back and neck by promoting good posture. It also has a wraparound design to assist in maintaining the feeding position while nursing, a large “firm front” cushion for the baby to rest on while feeding, and even an armrest for the mom.

Here’s how to use My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position.
  2. Place the pillow around your waist with the backrest behind you.
  3. Move the pillow to your desired height for breastfeeding.
  4. Use the clasp to close and secure the pillow.
  5. Make sure the pillow is close to your body and comfy.
  6. Place baby on the pillow, and you are ready to breastfeed.

Benefits of a Nursing Pillow

Nursing pillows allow baby to be in a higher position, which provides a better opportunity for baby to latch well and supports mom’s back and neck by adjusting baby so she does not need to hunch or bend over.1

One published study specifically looked at the impact nursing pillows had on mother’s fatigue levels. The result showed that fatigue levels were lower for mothers who used pillows while breastfeeding. They attribute this to babies being in a position where they are more motivated to feed and can feed more successfully. Being in a position to latch well leads to fewer breastfeeding complications such as nipple pain, engorgement, and mastitis.2

Another benefit of nursing pillows is the convenience factor. While bed pillows or rolled blankets can help get the job done, breastfeeding pillows offer convenience, helping mom get their baby into a comfortable position before each feeding with little effort.

Are There Other Ways You Can Use Your Nursing Pillow?

You should only use nursing pillows for nursing or bottle-feeding. You should never lay your infants in or prop them up on a feeding pillow and leave them alone for the risk of rolling into a position where something may obstruct their breathing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has acknowledged that breastfeeding pillows can pose a safety risk for little ones if misused and has even called for new regulations for the design and marketing of nursing support pillows.3

Things To Keep In Mind When Buying Nursing Pillows

It is easy to get overwhelmed when deciding on products you might need for your baby, including which breastfeeding pillow to choose. I always recommend doing your due diligence when researching products. Look into all the details to see what product best meets your needs and expectations.

If possible, try out different nursing pillows before you purchase one. If you have a friend who has a Boppy pillow, My Brest Friend pillow, or another breastfeeding pillow, ask to borrow it to find out which might work best for you and your little one. Once your baby arrives and you can give them a try, you can see which one you are most comfortable with and make an informed purchase. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to which nursing pillow works best. Every individual will have a different preference as to which is most comfortable and supportive to their needs. There are also many nursing pillows for tandem feeding if you have twins!

Moms, we want you to meet your breastfeeding goals and be as comfortable as possible while doing so. Nursing pillows offer support, comfort, and convenience when it comes to getting yourself and your baby into a breastfeeding position that will set you up for a successful feeding session. As always, contact your lactation team or healthcare provider if concerns or questions arise during your breastfeeding journey. You are never alone!

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Casey Williams Registered Nurse and IBCLC
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Casey Williams is a registered nurse and IBCLC. Her expertise is in pediatrics and lactation. Casey has worked in all different areas in pediatrics, including inpatient and outpatient roles. While… Read more

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