Are you a new mom, working on breastfeeding? We often hear that “breast is best”, but who knew it could be such hard work?
I, for one, did not know there was such a thing as “breastfeeding technique” before I had my first child and struggled with breastfeeding initially.
Having a nursing pillow was a huge help to me, but after a while I started wondering – will I have to use this nursing pillow forever?
Let’s explore when you can stop using the nursing pillow, and what else you can do with it once you’re done nursing with it!
When Should I Stop Using My Nursing Pillow?
Unlike with car seats, there are no hard and fast guidelines by weight or age, as to when you should and shouldn’t use the nursing pillow. It is very much a matter of personal preference and comfort.
Here are some things to consider:
1. How Big is My Nursling?
As your child grows, your need for the nursing pillow will likely lessen. I know in the early newborn days, I felt that I needed to have the nursing pillow with me every time I nursed, or it was much less comfortable. As your baby grows and gains the ability to hold his head up independently, control motor function, you may find that the pillow is unnecessary.
Keep in mind though, that even though your child won’t need it, some babies might just prefer nursing this way because it is what they have grown accustomed to (source).
2. What Is My Body Type?
Although there are no specific sizes for nursing pillows, this does not mean that they are one size fits all. A pillow that works well for your BFF’s body may not work as well for you.
There isn’t a standardized size chart, but here are some things that can impact the fit of the pillow, and how long you may need the additional support from the pillow:
- If you’re a tall mom: You may find that you want a larger pillow to lift baby higher and closer to your nipple, and you may need the support more than a woman who is shorter and more able to rest parts of baby on her lap. This need will also lessen as baby grows and is able to sit up more.
- If you’re a small mom: Try pillows of different heights because you may find that pillows designed for average height women will lift baby too high, especially as he or she gets bigger.
- If you are thicker through your midsection: Keep in mind that nursing pillows with belts and smaller openings may be less comfortable, and more difficult for you to get on especially in the early newborn stages while you are rarely hands-free.
Some of these will change as your body changes post-partum, and as your baby grows.
More in Nursing Pillows: The Ultimate Guide to Using a Boppy
3. Is it Helping or Hurting?
Because of all the physical changes that your baby and your body are going through in this time, it is always a good idea to re-evaluate the fit of your pillow periodically.
Rather than just going into nursing auto-pilot, take a few moments to assess your posture, how your body feels, and your baby’s latch to ensure that your nursing pillow is providing proper support and not encouraging poor nursing form.
If the pillow is not suited to your body or your baby, it could cause you to position your body awkwardly, which could lead to latching issues (and sore, cracked nipples, which nobody wants).
In addition to these tips you might find it helpful to review this guide to buying a nursing pillow from BabyCenter:
Related Reading: How to Clean Your Nursing Pillow
What Else Can I Use My Nursing Pillow For?
When it comes time to stop using the nursing pillow, you don’t have to feel like its goodbye forever. The nursing pillow can support you in other ways as you enjoy the days with your little one.
Here are some ways that I’ve used mine with my kids as they grew:
- To Prop You Up in Bed: Sometimes when my baby was small and still light enough to hold and support in my arms, I would use the nursing pillow behind my back as an extra support cushion to keep me upright (especially on softer surfaces like the bed). It can also be helpful for mamas recovering from vaginal delivery for whom sitting may be a bit painful, as the hole provides relief from pressure while sitting.
- For Snuggle Support: Anyone who has ever been couch bound under a sleeping baby can attest that as cute as they are, your arm muscles do get quite the workout holding a baby for an extended period. Using a nursing pillow under your arms can help provide support so you can enjoy the snuggle, not the muscle pains. My kids also used to love this because it allowed them to hold their new baby sibling independently with the nursing pillow under them for support (with adult supervision of course).
- For Tummy Time: Once your baby is old enough to hold her head up by herself, you can try placing her on her tummy on the curve of the nursing pillow, and arms draped over the front of it. This can give her more mobility with her arms compared to regular tummy time, and allow her to play with toys in front of her.
- For Back Laying: The curved pillow can provide a snuggly little nest for baby to lay in. The hole cradles their lower back and tushie, while the pillow provides support for their upper back and neck while they look at the world around them.
- For Supported Sitting: This was my son’s favorite as he was learning to sit up, and gaining the core strength and stability. I used to simply place him in the hole of the nursing pillow, and wrap it around his back, to provide support and extra cushioning for if (when) he fell over.
The Bottom Line
Maybe you’ve grown tired of dragging your nursing pillow around everywhere with you. As your baby grows, there will be signs to look for that you two may be ready to stop relying on the pillow, and nurse on the go without it.
Reevaluate every couple months as your body changes and your baby grows, keeping in mind the following:
- How Big is Baby?
- What is My Body Type, and What Support Do I Need?
- How Does Breastfeeding Feel?
If you’ve decided that is the case after reading this, you can now move to using the pillow in other creative ways with your baby!
Have you found any other ways to use your nursing pillow that I haven’t thought of? I’d love to hear from you – comment below!