How to use a nursing pillow and footstool to maximize comfort and support during breastfeeding

How to use a nursing pillow and footstool to maximize comfort and support during breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be a beautiful yet challenging journey for both mother and baby. Using proper support tools like feeding pillows and nursing footstools is key to maximizing comfort during feedings.

Breast milk and breastfeeding have been shown to improve immune system support, increase bonding with the mother, and provide the ideal nutrition for healthy growth and development. In fact, some research shows that prolonged breastfeeding is linked with increased intelligence in adulthood leading to longer, higher-quality schooling, and higher adult earnings.

As a breastfeeding counselor and paramedic as well as a mother who breastfed two babies for extended periods of over a year each, I want to share my expertise alongside personal experience to help guide you on this nursing journey.

Why use a nursing pillow and footstool?

I often recommend using a nursing pillow and footstool to my clients. By combining the two correctly, you can greatly improve your breastfeeding position and your baby's comfort. They can help with a good latch, relieve strain on your arms and neck, and give extra support for your baby's weight.

Types of nursing pillows

When looking into breastfeeding pillows, you'll find they're more than just a soft prop. From different shapes that offer various levels of support to covers that fit your lifestyle, it's about matching your needs with the right features.

The most common types of nursing pillows include:

  1. Adjustable nursing pillows: These allow you to modify the height, angle, and firmness to accommodate your body and your growing baby for continued comfort and support. Some feature zip-off covers for adjusting the amount of filler.
  2. Twin/double pillows: Designed with expanded size and capacity to comfortably support two babies for tandem nursing. Straps may keep little ones snugly in place.
  3. Travel pillows: Inflatable or more lightweight to pack in a bag and take on the go. Easy to deflate and fold up when space is limited. May trade some plushness for portability.
  4. Organic pillows: For moms who prioritize only natural materials touching delicate baby skin. Covers are typically made from 100% organic cotton with eco-friendly fillers.
  5. Specialty shapes: Contoured pillows with ergonomic shapes to target issues like acid reflux by keeping the baby more upright during and after feedings.
  6. Classic U-shaped pillow: This nursing pillow shape wraps around your waist and is designed to provide all-around support to bring your baby's head and body up to breast level. However, u-shaped pillows have been linked with serious safety concerns - My Brest Friend has meticulously designed all of their nursing pillows to have a firmer surface, a sharper edge, and a wider curve than others on the market. They are recognized as the best-designed pillows for breastfeeding success and safety as reviewed in both the Consumer Report and in an NBC article about nursing pillows.
With different priorities in mind like adjustability, portability, eco-friendly materials, or specialized support, various nursing pillow types are designed to best accommodate your needs!

    Selecting the best nursing pillow for you

    With so many breastfeeding pillows on the market, how do you know which is best for you? With various shapes and features to consider, choose one that truly fits your needs and lifestyle. My Brest Friend has a pillow for every mom!

    1. Consider your breastfeeding timeline. Will you nurse for 6 months or 2+ years? Opting for an adjustable pillow like the Original, Super Deluxe, or Deluxe allows you to modify the height and angle as your baby grows. For a long breastfeeding journey, prioritize durability and machine washability.
    2. Identify the right fit and shape for your body and needs. Always consider ergonomic support. The classic Original, Organic, and Super Deluxe options wrap comfortably around your waist for that coveted lumbar support. Those recovering from a C-section may prefer the football-hold-friendly Twin & Plus shape instead. It keeps pressure off the incision site. Pregnant women can also utilize the Twin & Plus to support their bellies and provide extra cushioning against sciatica and swelling. Babies with reflux benefit from a contoured incline like the Super Deluxe Nursing Pillow, keeping them upright during feedings. For feeding two at once, the specialized Professional Twin and Twin & Plus pillows allow tandem breastfeeding with security straps to stabilize babies' positioning.
    3. Consider aesthetics, ease of cleaning, and organic materials. 100% organic cotton covers like those on the Super Deluxe Organic and Organic Nursing pillow give peace of mind to moms seeking only natural fabrics. For serious stain resistance, opt for the waterproof inner liners of the Super Deluxe and Deluxe. Consider purchasing additional washable covers in case of spills. All My Brest Friend covers are washer-friendly for refreshingly easy upkeep.
    4. Determine your portability requirements. Will you need to nurse on the go? Deflate and pack the lightweight Inflatable Travel Nursing Pillow to maintain support away from home. If flying frequently or feeding in less sanitary spaces, the antimicrobial professional pillow protects against bacteria.
    No matter your specific needs - whether adjustability for growth spurts or easy portability for travel and public nursing - My Brest Friend offers the perfect nursing pillow fit for you and your baby! Don't hesitate to call a lactation consultant for personalized guidance.

    Correct positioning with nursing pillows

    As a breastfeeding counselor, I know the importance of achieving the right breastfeeding position and positioning with your nursing pillow for both your comfort and your baby's optimal latch during feedings.

    The classic cradle hold remains a gold standard for a reason. Resting the feeding pillow on your lap elevates your baby to breast height as their head nestles into the cushion, keeping their body turned slightly toward yours. This greatly reduces neck and arm strain that could manifest from solely supporting their weight. I always recommend this intuitive cradling position for new breastfeeding journeys.

    The football hold is also valuable for specific instances. Tucking the pillow snugly beside the breast your baby is latched to, their back rests on top of the curve as their legs point backward. This prevents any pressure on healing C-section or hysterectomy scars. The football setup also works beautifully when feeding twins, as the pillow's tailored contour keeps each baby secure and cozy. And for smaller infants or those with gastric issues, use the slight incline to gently elevate their torso.

    While the cradle and football holds serve wonderfully in most situations, do experiment until you find what feels right. Minor tweaks to pillow angles or height often make a major difference! I encourage regularly reevaluating comfort and latch efficiency as you both grow into your groove.

    The role of footstools in breastfeeding

    Pair your breastfeeding pillow with an adjustable nursing footstool to optimize your nursing setup. By propping up your feeding pillow with your feet, you alleviate lower back strain and create a more ergonomic angle for your baby to feed, which supports their body and can also improve the latch. Ensuring that you're in a comfortable position helps you feel more relaxed, which can contribute to a better breastfeeding experience for both you and your newborn.

    Let’s break down how a simple footstool can be a game-changer for breastfeeding moms.

    • Better back support: When you're feeding your little one, your back’s comfort is paramount. A nursing stool provides the leverage to align your spine properly, reducing the torment of backaches.
    • Reduces neck pain: No more straining your neck muscles. Having your feet elevated on a footstool changes the angle at which you sit, allowing you to bring your baby closer to your breast without bending forward.
    • Correct positioning: With the assistance of a footstool, you're likely to find holding and nursing your baby in the optimal breastfeeding position much easier. This means less fidgeting for both of you.
    • Comfort for your baby's legs: Supporting your feet on a stool can also help regulate the elevation of your thighs, creating a gentle slope for your baby to lie against, supporting their legs, and making them feel secure.

    Using a breastfeeding pillow and footstool isn't just about your baby's comfort, it's about supporting your body as well so that you can enjoy the feeding process.

    Safety concerns and best practices

    When you're using a nursing pillow and footstool, there are a few more things to keep in mind to ensure that you and your baby have a safe and comfortable experience. My Brest Friend nursing pillows are specifically designed with a firm, flat surface, and structured edges to discourage sleeping and ensure supervision.

    SIDS: Be aware that nursing pillows are not designed for sleeping to prevent any risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Always keep an eye on your baby to make sure they're not slipping into a position that could obstruct their breathing. Never leave your baby to sleep unattended on a nursing pillow.

    C-section delivery: A nursing pillow can help bring your baby closer without putting pressure on your wound.

    Bottle feeding: If you choose to bottle feed your baby with your expressed breastmilk or formula, parents can also benefit from a nursing pillow, as it can help maintain a comfortable position for both you and the baby.

    Feeding multiples: When feeding twins, look for an adjustable nursing pillow that's firm enough to support both babies simultaneously.

    Acid reflux issues: If your baby experiences issues like gastric reflux or tends to spit up often, use the pillow to keep them in an upright position during and after feedings. This can help mitigate those issues and make feeding time less messy.

    Pregnancy support: A nursing pillow and footstool can help to take pressure off your pregnancy bump while preventing back strain.

    The role of lactation support specialists

    Don't hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant or breastfeeding counselor if you're facing challenges with using a nursing pillow or breastfeeding in general. These professionals can provide personalized suggestions and demonstrate the best ways to position your baby, which can be especially helpful for newborn babies. They are a valuable resource for enhancing your breastfeeding experience.

    Caring for your nursing pillow and footstool

    To ensure that your nursing pillow and footstool continue to provide support and comfort during feeding sessions with your newborn baby, routine maintenance and cleaning are key.

    Your nursing pillow will likely see a lot of use! Look for a nursing pillow with washable covers or a waterproof inner cover to make cleanup easier. If your pillow has foam inserts, check the care label for specific cleaning instructions - some may be spot-clean only. Remember, liquid messes can seep deep, so act quickly when accidents happen.


    • For most pillows: Remove the cover and machine wash on a gentle cycle. Lay flat or hang to dry for best results.
    • For the footstool: Mild detergent and a damp cloth can work wonders for removing grime.

    As your baby's weight increases and your baby grows, you might need to change how you use your support equipment. Periodically evaluate the pillow's height and firmness to ensure it aligns with your baby's growing size.

    A well-cared-for nursing pillow and footstool can make a big difference in your and your baby's feeding experience.

    Maximize comfort and support

    In closing, I hope this guide has shown how proper tools like nursing pillows and footstools truly empower feeding success, bonding, and comfort for both breastfeeding mothers and babies. Don't underestimate how key ergonomics are!

    Moreover, it's essential to recognize that breastfeeding is not just about physical nourishment; it's also about emotional well-being. As a new mom, taking care of yourself is paramount to your ability to care for your baby. In addition to using nursing pillows and footstools, consider incorporating short rest healing techniques into your routine. These techniques can help rejuvenate your mind and body, providing the energy and resilience needed for the beautiful yet demanding journey of motherhood.

    In my experience guiding new moms in proper positioning, I highly recommend the My Brest Friend nursing products for unparalleled back support and adjustability to grow with you through every stage and scenario of your journey - whether nursing one or nurturing twins, battling acid reflux, or healing from delivery. Their products tick every box.

    No matter what breastfeeding pillow you choose, know that there is plenty of support out there for you! Using a nursing pillow isn't just about comfort; it's about creating precious bonding moments.


    What is the best position for a breastfeeding pillow?

    The classic cradle position allows the baby’s head to nestle into the pillow, keeping their body turned slightly toward yours to reduce neck and arm strain.

    Do feeding pillows help with latch?

    Yes, many mothers use a breastfeeding pillow to elevate their baby to the right position on the breast for easier, more efficient latching.

    Do you really need a nursing pillow?

    While not required, pillows provide ergonomic support that majorly increases mom’s comfort, allowing her to focus on feeding rather than physical pains. But these pillows should only be used for supervised nursing - not tummy time.

    What are the benefits of a nursing stool?

    A nursing stool helps align the mom's posture, preventing lower back pain while allowing your baby to lie against a gentle, supportive incline. This further improves the latch.

    About the author:
    Katie McCann, founder of "From Bump To Bubble," holds a BSc in Psychology and is a certified breastfeeding counselor. She uses her background as a mother of two and former HCPC paramedic to provide science-based parenting insights and emergency care advice on her blog. Katie's experience makes her a trusted voice in parenting, offering guidance on breastfeeding, parenting tips, and mompreneurship.

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