What’s a Nursing Pillow, and Which is Best?

Introduction.

Nursing literally refers to taking care of the infirm but this is only a new meaning. Before the 16th century, the term referred to a woman taking care of an infant with  breastfeeding being at the core of that responsibility. However, the two lexical meanings are not antagonistic. Breastfeeding infants themselves though not ill need a great deal of nursing care.

To nurse an individual, a number of accessories tailored to their need are required, be it stools/chairs, walking aids or commonly, pillows. Nursing pillows literally, are soft/firm items designed to provide some specific form of support or positioning for the user. There are various categories depending on the special need, including; physiotherapy pillows (neck care, back care), pressure pillows, pregnancy care and more commonly the breastfeeding pillows. Some of them can be used to serve several purposes. In casual communication, the term nursing pillow is almost always used to refer to the breastfeeding pillow in particular. Just to note; the pillow at your bedroom or living room is not a nursing pillow, though it could be improvised as such. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in one of his campaigns talked of “ice pillows”, in reference to fish preservation ice packs. Those too are not nursing pillows if they are pillows to begin with!

Since the commonest form of nursing is breastfeeding and the common use of the word nursing pillows is in reference to breast feeding pillows, we’ll therefore dwell our attention on the breastfeeding pillows as well as use the two terminologies interchangeably.

 

Importance of a breastfeeding (nursing) pillow

Nursing an infant involves holding them to the breast for significant durations and many

comfortable breastfeeding with a nursing pillow

times in a day. The average nursing session last ~40 mins and healthy infants breastfeed for up to 12 times in a day, the average being 8. That might dwindle down a little bit as the infant grows and other forms of feeding come into play. So, a nursing mother can count on breastfeeding for about 5-8 out of 24 hours in a day. A job indeed! Not so? Without any form of physical support, it means lifting the baby to the breast (whatever weight they could be) for all that long!  This is fatiguing and can be associated with; arm sprains, neck and back pain since she’s likely to hunch.  In turn, the duration of a breastfeed and quality of latching will be compromised, the overall experience with breast feeding will be poor and that will affect milk production and mothers choice on when to wean. The nursing pillows are therefore available to make this process as simple, comfortable and enjoyable as possible. That will keep the mothers breastfeeding spirit high, thus harnessing the full benefit of breastfeeding without compromising on mommy’s health. Some of these pillows can be used for other purposes like “tummy time” and can be useful right from pregnancy to after weaning!

 

Types of Nursing pillows

Nursing pillows are of various shapes, sizes and use patterns. The goal  is always to make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable, thus different designs will be suited for mothers and babies  with specific circumstances. The primary designs are the; C-shaped, Crescent roll, O-shaped, and the slide in arm pillows. Other designs exist in outside the common shapes and this primarily include; Babymoov mom and Baby, and Infantino elevate. We’ll elucidate more on these.

C- shaped nursing pillows; is the Wrap around type of pillow,  the open end of the C is at

A C- shaped pillow; boppy bare naked

the mothers back when in use. This type therefore does not have a back support, but provides room for arm support. Mothers with several body types can use these pillows. Most brands in this category are versatile and come fitted with or without straps for fastening. Those without the fastening tend to let the feeder slide in between the pillow and mother while in use.

 

 

Crescent roll; these are designed to take the banana shape, just to fit in front of mommy’s body with little or no wrapping. This can be used by mothers with various body types. The baby’s and mother’s surfaces usually differ in consistency with the mother’s being soft for comfort.

Blessed Nest organic Nesting pillow.

 

A new form of crescent pillows particularly suitable for “curvy mothers” has emerged. They are also suitable for the foot ball hold position.

Crescent pillow; Dr. Brown’s Gia Angled

Both pillows are versatile; can be used for head support, sit stabilization, some pregnant mothers also find them useful!

The O-shaped pillows; totally wrap around mommy’s lower torso, are fastened in place by buckles or Velcro (some have both to ease things out). They also come loaded with a lower back support and other mesmerizing bonuses like side pocket! These features are reserved for My Brest friend pillows. As impressive as the name sounds (by the way it is Brest friend, not Best friend or Breast friend!), they don’t fit all body types though. They most favorable for football holds. Two variants the original (comes with buckled straps) and deluxe (comes with Velcro straps).

My Brest friend Original.
An O-shaped nursing pillow: My brest friend deluxe-with both velcro and buckle straps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arm pillows; these are slid into the arm and  appear as a big wrap. They are suitable for travel breastfeeding and for use by “accessory babysitters” during bottle feeding. Examples include the nursie slip, Lansinoh Nursie and Itzy ritzy milk Boss.

 

Arm nursing pillow; Itzy Ritzy pillow.

Other pillow forms

Infantino eleavte; has the advantage of varying the infants level relative to the brest. It’s suitable for very young/small infants.

Infantino elevate pillow
  • Baby moov mom and Bay pillow; versatile, useful for various stages of baby growth, can be used during pregnancy as well. comes along with a Head stabilizer.
  • Head stabilizer (baby moov)

     

     

  • Baby Moov mother and baby pillow.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to  consider when buying a nursing pillow…

  • Maintenance; since breastfeeding entails a lot of getting dirty and cleaning up, ease of maintenance should be high in the features sought after. The Ideal pillow in this case should be machine washable and drier compliant for both body and cover. If not then the body should be spill proof.
  • Ease of use; remember a baby will want to breastfeed at any time irrespective of location. Preferably; the pillow should be portable and since getting it in place will usually be done with the baby in mom’s arms, should be easy to manipulate with just one hand. It should also fit snugly to avoid the baby sliding in between and be suitable for several body types since mummy will undergo ‘metamorphosis’ with time. They say; picture yourself as about 5 months pregnant and pick something which will accommodate that!
  • Versatility; a feature which is often good to have for any product, any bonuses in the function of a nursing pillow should be welcome.
  • Durability; first, mummy has to ask the questions; how long am I going to breastfeed? Shall I need to use one pillow for several babies? If she intends to breastfeed for long and may be use it for another ‘shift’, then a durable pillow is the choice. You wouldn’t like to get one which will gas-off mid way and become misshapen before accomplishing the task, so pay attention to the material as well!
  • Price; in the world of economics, we tend to look out for items with best properties and lower cost. The same best for value principle applies here. Unfortunately, most desirable features are commonly betrayed by a high price.

A comparative table to display the best reviewed pillows is provided below and rank points attached for one to easily identify which excels in a specific area. The pillow with the highest rank total  is the best pick overall. Let’s say 1-3 point are awarded for each of the features above. For price (USD/$); ≤ 30 score 3 points, 31-60 scores 2 points, and ≥ 61 scores 1 point. The feature examination standards and ranking is obtained from reviews (professional, experienced mothers and choice buyers) with personal comparison of product information. This isn’t intended to undermine any product or manufacturer.

Your Nursing Pillows! which is best?

NAME (BRAND)HIGHLIGHTSEASE OF USEMAINTENANCEVERSATILITYDURABILITYCOSTRANK SCOREVIEW
Boppy barePROS
+ versatile
+ great quality
+ multiple slip covers
+ Easy to fit
CONS
- slides
- flattens out
- doesn't fit all sizes.
SCORE; 2
easily slipped into place, no need for fastening.
SCORE; 2
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried, some are spill proof and only need a simple wipe.
2. the body can be sun dried.
SCORE; 2
several uses;
*tummy time
*breastfeeding
*sitting support
* for play
SCORE; 3
Lasts long enough (service time ~12 months), made of foam, the slipcover is a blend of polyester/cotton, some are protective spill proof material.
SCORE; 3
$ 25-Amazon

SCORE; 3
15
Boppy Best LatchPROS
+ versatile
+ great quality
+ multiple slip covers
+ Easy to fit
CONS
- flattens out
- doesn't fit all sizes.
Best overall pillow to acquire
SCORE; 2
easily slipped into place, and fastened to avoid sliding.
SCORE; 3
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried, some are spill proof and only need a simple wipe.
2. the body can be sun dried.
SCORE; 2
several uses;
*tummy time
*breastfeeding
*sitting support
* for play
SCORE; 3
Lasts long enough (service time ~12 months), made of foam, the slipcover is a blend of polyester/cotton, some are protective spill proof material.
SCORE; 3
$ 30-Amazon

SCORE; 3
16
Itzy Ritzy milk Boss arm pillowPROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ Easy to fit for all sizes
CONS
- not a great choice for small infants.
- limits user positioning (cradle hold)
Best for traveling (always have another pillow type with this)
SCORE; 1
PROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ Easy to fit for all sizes
CONS
- not a great choice for small infants.
- limits user positioning (cradle hold)
Best for traveling (always have another pillow type with this)
SCORE; 1
Machine washed and air dried, no slip cover though.
SCORE; 1
Feeding support only; manufacturer also claims its useful during burping
SCORE; 1
lasts reasonably long, service time longer than a year

SCORE; 3
$ 16-Amazon

SCORE; 3
12
My Brest Friend-Original and DeluxePROS
+good back support
+ great quality
+ fits snugly, doesn't slide
CONS
- doesn't fit all sizes.
- not easy to wear
Best for football hold
SCORE; 2
worn as a belt and fastened to avoid sliding. deluxe easier to use than original
SCORE; 2
Cover can be machine washed.
Body only air dried.

SCORE; 2
*Feeding support
* has a pocket to keep other accessories
SCORE; 3
lasts average, starts to flat out by ~ 6 months. Body is made of foam, Cover by a blend
SCORE; 2
Deluxe; $39-Amazon
Original; $35-Amazon
SCORE; 2
13
Dr, Brown's Gia Nursing pillowPROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ Easy to fit
+ versatile.
CONS
- slim mothers might have trouble using it.
- Expensive

Best for large breasts and 'curvy' mothers
SCORE; 2
easily slipped into place, no need for fastening.
SCORE; 3
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried, some are spill proof and only need a simple wipe.
2. the body can be machine washed and dried.
SCORE; 3
several uses;
*breastfeeding
*sitting support
* for play
SCORE; 3
Lasts long enough (service time >12 months), body made of polyester, and the covering cotton.
SCORE; 3
$ 140-Amazon

SCORE; 1
13
Leacho Natural Boost adjustable.
Others; Infantino elevate
PROS
+ Easy to use
+ portable
+ Good for small infants

CONS
- limits user positioning (cradle hold)
Best after C-section (always have another pillow type with this)
SCORE; 1
placed onto laps, no need for fastening.
SCORE; 2
Non removable cover,
Dry cleaning/tumble dry
SCORE; 1
Feeding support only

SCORE; 1
lasts average, starts to flat out by ~ 6 months. Body is made of foam, Cover by a blend of cotton and polyester.
SCORE; 2
$ 28 Amazon/Walmart

SCORE; 3

10
Babymoov Mom and Baby.PROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ versatile

CONS
- not a great choice for small infants.
- limits user positioning
Best transitional pillow ( from pregnancy to nursing, and from dormant to active infant)
SCORE; 2
placed onto laps, no need for fastening. The zipper has no tab though (with good reason), you'll need a soft pin!
SCORE; 2
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried.
2. the body can be sun dried and wiped.
SCORE; 2
several uses;
* During pregnancy
*breastfeeding
* as a " talking pillow"

SCORE; 2
Lasts long enough (service time ~12 months), made of foam, the slipcover is a blend of elastase/cotton,
SCORE; 3
$ 19-Amazon

SCORE; 3
14
Blessed Nest organic Nesting pillowPROS
+ great quality (organic)
+ portable
+ Easy to fit
+ versatile.
CONS
- might be heavy together with an infant
- Expensive

SCORE; 2
placed onto laps, no need for fastening.
SCORE; 2
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed/dried
2. the body can be sun machine dried and is spill resistant
SCORE; 3
several uses;
* during pregnancy.
*breastfeeding
*sitting support
* others like laptop support
SCORE; 3
Lasts long enough (service time ~12 months), made of pesticide free organic buckwheat , the slipcover is a is pure cotton,
SCORE; 3
$ 94- Amazon

SCORE; 1

14
Twin Z pillowPROS
+ versatile
+ comfortable.
+ back support

CONS
- flattens out
- very big
- expensive
Best for twins.
SCORE; 2
slipped into place, and fastened to avoid sliding.
SCORE; 2
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried.
2. the body can be sun dried or wiped
SCORE; 3
several uses;
*tummy time
*breastfeeding
*sitting support
* for play
SCORE; 3
lasts average, starts to flat out by ~ 6 months. Body is made of foam, Cover by a blend
SCORE; 2
$ 130-Amazon

SCORE; 1
13
Luna lullaby nursing pillowPROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ versatility
CONS
- not a great choice for small infants
SCORE; 2
placed onto laps, no need for fastening.
SCORE; 2
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried, some are spill proof and only need a simple wipe.
2. the body can be sun dried.
SCORE; 2
several uses;
*breastfeeding
*maternal support

SCORE; 2
lasts average, starts to flat out by ~ 6 months. Body is made of foam with spill proof surface, Cover by a blend,
SCORE; 3
$ 24-Amazon

SCORE; 3

14
Leacho Cuddle UPROS
+ versatile
+ has seat strap

CONS
- flattens out

SCORE; 2
easily slipped into place, no need for fastening.
SCORE; 2
1. slip covers can be removed and machine washed and dried, some are spill proof and only need a simple wipe.
2. the body can be sun dried.
SCORE; 2
several uses;
*tummy time
*breastfeeding
*sitting support
* for play
SCORE; 3
lasts average, starts to flat out by ~ 6 months. Body is made of foam, Cover by a blend of cotton and polyester
SCORE; 2
$ 33-amazon

SCORE; 2
13
Nursie slip Arm pillowPROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ Easy to fit for all sizes
CONS
- not a great choice for small infants.
- limits user positioning (cradle hold)
Best for traveling (always have another pillow type with this)
SCORE; 1
PROS
+ great quality
+ portable
+ Easy to fit for all sizes
CONS
- not a great choice for small infants.
- limits user positioning (cradle hold)
Best for traveling (always have another pillow type with this)
SCORE; 1
Machine washed and air dried, no slip cover though.
SCORE; 1
Feeding support only


SCORE; 1
lasts reasonably long, service time longer than a year. Cover 100 % cotton.

SCORE; 3
$ 16-Amazon

SCORE; 3
12

 

 

 

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