You may have seen the idyllic photos of a well-rested mother serenely breastfeeding her swaddled infant, but breastfeeding moms will tell you that the reality of those early breastfeeding days is quite different. You are constantly sweating, your nipples are sore, and you seem to spend more time haggling for a semi-comfortable breastfeeding position than you do actively feeding your new bundle of joy.
Plenty of new moms feel frustration in the early days of breastfeeding, wondering why it is so uncomfortable to feed the way that their bodies were designed to.
That’s where a nursing pillow comes in. If you’ve ever wondered what a nursing pillow is, if you really need a nursing pillow, or how to choose the best nursing pillow, we’ve got the info you need.
In this article:
- Do you really need a nursing pillow?
- How to choose a nursing pillow
- Best nursing pillow for C-section moms: My Brest Friend nursing pillow
- Best budget-friendly nursing pillow: Boppy nursing pillow
- Best luxury nursing pillow: Nook Sleep Niche Organic nursing pillow
- Best organic nursing pillow: Holy Lamb Organics Bo Peep nursing pillow
- Best for different heights: FridaBaby Frida Mom Adjustable nursing pillow
- Best nursing pillow for travel: Feeding Friend Self- Inflating Wedge nursing pillow
- Best for close cuddling: Ergobaby Natural Curve nursing pillow
- Best hands-free option: BBHugMe Nursing Pillow
- Best nursing pillow for tandem nursing: Twin Z nursing pillow
- Best machine-washable nursing pillow: Bebe Au Lait nursing pillow
Do You Really Need a Nursing Pillow?
If you’re considering breastfeeding, a nursing pillow can make a big difference in the comfort level of nursing positions and back support as you feed a tiny infant. It’s not essential for everyone, but it can be a game changer on your breastfeeding journey to support your back and your baby’s latch. It’s also incredibly helpful for the early nursing days, when your baby is small and doesn’t quite fill your lap to reach your breasts for nursing.
So the short answer is, yes, we believe you really do need a nursing pillow. After I breastfed my first baby, I loved my nursing pillow so much I even made sure to bring it in my list of hospital essentials to have my second baby.
How to Choose the Best Nursing Pillow
Nursing pillows are designed to support breastfeeding moms and babies in the first days of nursing and beyond. Offering support for mom’s tired arms and some cushioning around the mother’s midsection, a nursing pillow can assist a new mom as she adjusts her breastfeeding hold and position. They are useful for establishing a comfortable latch and nursing posture, putting both mom and baby at ease through the restless first days and beyond.
Choosing the perfect nursing pillow for you and your baby can seem overwhelming in a crowded market of baby products. Considering your breastfeeding goals, your infant’s needs, and your budget will help you to select a product that will truly benefit your breastfeeding journey. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you narrow down your picks to find the best nursing pillow for you:
In order to decide which features of a breastfeeding pillow will be most useful to you, assess how you will be spending your time after delivering your baby. Are you going to be nursing on-the-go frequently, or staying mostly at home? You may want to consider the shape and weight of the pillow if you’re going to be traveling or carrying it around. Your delivery method matters as well—mothers who have delivered via C-section may need more abdominal support as they breastfeed. You can opt for a sleeker or bulkier nursing pillow option based on your postpartum needs and lifestyle.
For moms or babies with sensitive skin, there are several eco-friendly nursing pillows with organic cotton and hypoallergenic material to explore. The upkeep of the nursing pillow differs as well- some pillows are machine-washable and others have interchangeable covers to make caring for the pillow as hassle-free as possible.
Nursing moms don’t have to be the only ones to take advantage of the support a nursing pillow offers. Some nursing pillows can also be used with babies who are bottle feeding or taking milk from a syringe, giving moms the option of letting a partner take over a feeding. If you choose to bottle feed your baby, a nursing pillow can come in handy for supporting the baby’s head and neck as well.
Nursing pillows come in shapes and sizes that can fit any family’s needs. If you are a parent of twins, you can buy a “two-seater” nursing pillow to protect your back as you breast or bottle feed both babies. Some pillows double as pregnancy pillows, so parents who plan on having future children may want to look into a nursing pillow to be used in subsequent pregnancies. It’s a good idea to check if there are options for replaceable pillow covers as well- a fresh cover will make it easier to pass on the pillow to any future babies joining your family.
When considering which nursing pillows are within your budget, thinking about your breastfeeding goals and your baby’s needs can help you sort out which details are worth paying for. Most pillows will fall into the $30-$50 range, with more expensive pillows around $100.
Some nursing pillows offer versatile features that your baby can “grow” into, making them more of a long-term investment. For instance, certain pillows will carry a higher price because of their versatility in being used for tummy time or learning to sit up. Others will be made from more premium materials, bringing their price up with their quality. There are plenty of reliable nursing pillows at affordable prices to choose from.
The truth is, the early days of nursing can be hard enough without dealing with unnecessary discomfort. Whatever features you’re looking for—whether it’s tandem feeding support or something that can double as a pregnancy pillow—we’re here to walk you through your nursing pillow options.
Truly Mama’s Best Nursing Pillow Picks
Best Nursing Pillow for C-Section Moms
My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
My Brest Friend is designed with a flat cushion to hold up your baby and includes clips that fasten around mom’s back. Moms who have had Cesarean births love the firm support without having to put extra pressure on their recovering abdomen as they switch sides while nursing. My Brest Friend also features a storage pocket for easily accessible nursing accessories like nipple creams or water bottles. My Brest Friend is twin friendly, affordable, and can provide some much-needed arm and back support during those long hours of cluster feeding.
Best Budget-Friendly Nursing Pillow
If you have a baby, you need a Boppy pillow. This all-so-functional pillow can be used for breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, tummy time, or just hanging-around time. It's the perfect supportive pillow, especially for the early newborn days and can be used for long to come. Plus, it comes in a variety of machine-washable covers, so you can customize style--and throw in the washer when it's dirty.Read Review
Best Luxury Nursing Pillow
Nook Sleep Niche Organic Nursing Pillow
The Nook Sleep Niche was designed to support both bottle and breastfeeding for eco-conscious parents. The pillow is made from organic kapok and the covers are curated from organic cotton and eucalyptus fabric. Its high-end materials make this pillow allergy and asthma-friendly. Plus, the covers for this pillow come in bright, gorgeous colors. The Nook Sleep Niche is so soft that all parents will want to use it, too (and they can- it’s pregnancy friendly!).
The Best Organic Nursing Pillow
Holy Lamb Organics Bo Peep Nursing Pillow
This handmade pillow is made in the USA and features Holy Lamb's signature wool blend for a soft and cozy feel that's perfect for snuggling in close for nursing time. You'll get a luxuriously soft pillow that's made from start-to-finish completely chemical free, with 100% certified organic cotton sateen fabric, non-toxic dyes and ink, and premium Eco-Wool batting. The cover zips off so you can throw it right in the washing machine if it gets dirty and you can use the pillow once your child is over for playtime or reading on the floor, so it's a versatile pick as well.
Best Adjustable Nursing Pillow
FridaBaby Frida Mom Adjustable Nursing Pillow
There's a lot to love about the FridaBaby nursing pillow (which shouldn't come as a surprise, considering how great this brand is for all parent-friendly products!). The stars of this nursing pillow are the three interchangeable layers that you can switch up to find the perfect height for your exact body--tall or short, or somewhere in between. There's also total adjustable cushioning levels so you can find the coziest fit for your baby while you nurse too. Stack, adjust, latch and relax. Plus, we love the bonus features, like the wide opening for C-section incisions, soft material, removable backrest, and built-in cradle retainer.
Best Nursing Pillow for Travel
Feeding Friend Self- Inflating Wedge Nursing Pillow
Featuring a wedge design rather than a wrap-around pillow, the Feeding Friend Self-Inflating Wedge Pillow is a relief for anyone’s arms during feeding time. The self-inflating design enables the pillow to be decompressed and rolled up, easily fitting into any mom’s diaper bag. Moms love the Feeding Friend’s removable, machine-washable cover and its compact design created with traveling parents in mind.
Best for Close Cuddling
Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow
For parents seeking a firmer pillow that won’t lose its shape, the Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow offers solid support that mothers love. The Natural Curve Nursing pillow is ideal for keeping your baby close without them slipping down the pillow. It also features a handle for easy carrying and can be used for tummy time when your baby grows big enough.
Best Hands-Free Nursing Pillow
BBHugMe Nursing Pillow
If you're looking to go hands-free with your nursing pillow, this handy little option might just become your new breast friend. It ties around your waist to offer extra support and while we don't recommend going fully hands-free for obvious reasons, it can help ensure the pillow stays more firmly in place. It also features adjustable support and has a built-in silicone teething toy for when you get a little tired of being the teething toy. (Trust us, it happens.)
Best Nursing Pillow for Tandem Nursing
Twin Z Nursing Pillow
The Twin Z is definitely a pricier option for a nursing pillow, but moms of twins sing praises of its ability to support their arms during tandem feeding. The Twin Z is larger than other nursing pillow options, but has built-in back support for the parent to help prevent hunching over as they feed two babies at once. The Twin Z can also be used as a pregnancy pillow for those hard-to-sleep nights before delivery.
Best Machine-Washable Nursing Pillow
Bebe Au Lait Nursing Pillow
If you want a nursing pillow that you can toss right in the washing machine, the Bebe Au Lait is the pillow for you. Unlike most nursing pillows, which allow you to wash the cover only, this pillow can be tossed straight into the washing machine too for a deep clean. (However, the catch is that the slipcover is sold separately, so be aware of that when you buy.) We love the open yet supportive shape of this pillow, combined with the fact that it's made of 100% organic cotton for a cozy and soft feel.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do nursing pillows last?
Depending on how often you use it, most nursing pillows will last for years. How long you will use it depends on your preference, the size of your baby, and your unique feeding needs.
Is it OK to let my baby sleep on the nursing pillow?
You should never place a baby to sleep on a nursing pillow. For information on safe sleep practices, check with your doctor.
How often should I clean the breastfeeding pillow?
Cleaning needs will vary from pillow to pillow (and baby to baby!). Many pillows are machine-washable, making frequent cleaning simple. Check the label on your pillow for cleaning instructions.
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