In theory, all you need to breastfeed is, you know, a breast and a baby. But in practice, there are some extras that can make it easier and more comfortable. Some mamas swear by a particular brand of nursing pillow, while others don’t even bother with one. You may find that what works for one baby doesn’t suit another or that your needs change as your baby grows.

Did you know that nursing pillows were originally designed to prop up babies who are not quite ready to sit on their own? They became popular when women started using them to help them nurse.

Nowadays these curved pillows are on many “must-have” checklists. They can sometimes be quite useful. For example, mothers who are nursing twins may find it helps to use the extra-wide pillows. Being able to lie the twins on each side of the pillow is almost like having an extra arm. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Why would I need a nursing pillow?

In general, when you’re nursing while sitting, using a cradle, cross-cradle or football hold, a nursing pillow can be a great idea. When you consider how often you breastfeed, every day and night for months, it’s not surprising to hear that not having the proper support can lead to wrist and hand injuries, as well as shoulder and back pain. It’s totally worth taking the time to get the setup right.

When can a nursing pillow be helpful?

Your body type definitely plays a role, and there are some situations where a firmer, thicker nursing pillow can be helpful. If you have a long torso, a thicker U-shaped pillow can help raise the arm that’s holding your baby higher so that you’re not hunching over.

In general, when you’re nursing while sitting, using a cradle, cross-cradle or football hold, a nursing pillow can be a great idea.
CREDIT: CLEYDER DUQUE / PEXELS

Some people like a nursing pillow that comes with an adjustable strap so that they can raise it to the right position on their bodies and this can be helpful if you have larger breasts. If you’re breastfeeding twins, a nursing pillow designed for multiples can be a huge help to get everyone positioned right, often in the football hold.

Nursing pillows can be multipurpose, too: Some parents use them for baby’s tummy time (up until baby is able to roll over on their own), and they’re also handy when your wobbly babe is learning to sit up. Always put a nursing pillow on the floor for these activities, and be sure to supervise your baby.

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Schiedel, B., 2021. Do you really need a nursing pillow? Here’s the lowdown.. [online] Today’s Parent. Available at: <https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/nursing-pillow/> [Accessed 12 July 2021].

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