One day my husband came home from work. The baby was napping and the toddler was eating blueberry yogurt, “eating” being a broad descriptor of her actions, which included painting her nose with the yogurt on her spoon. The point being–both kids were occupied and so I was at my computer, staring at a blank Word document. My husband looked over my shoulder at the white screen, sensing my dilemma without needing to ask me about it. “Write about your nursing pillow,” he suggested. “It’s an old, crappy pillow, and I don’t like it,” I replied instantly, as I’ve complained about my nursing pillow many times. He raised an eyebrow. Oh, hey.
Is a nursing pillow a necessity? Nearly every baby registry website suggests that it is. They even get their very own section at the baby stores now, so they certainly seem on par with other must-haves such as car seats and high chairs. If you try to nurse a young baby without using a nursing pillow, you will probably find your arms grow sore in no time at all, especially if you happen to have a behemoth of a baby like my second child. The main advantage of a nursing pillow, no matter the brand, is that it’s U-shaped. This means it fits around your tummy and wraps around your sides a bit so there’s plenty of room to support your elbows and baby’s ever-growing body. Some brands have straps to keep it in place and pockets to store various baby-related things, but whether you want these features or not is personal preference. The draw is really the fact that it’s supposed to fit around your body.
As a new mother a few years ago, I thought it was stupid to walk into a baby store and basically put one of each item onto my registry. Baby stuff was so expensive and most of it looked absolutely unnecessary. One summer day while pregnant I was taking a walk—well, more like a waddle—and came across a yard sale wheres someone was selling their old nursing pillow for $2. SCORE, I thought, and promptly bought it. I couldn’t figure out why it was so cheap, even at a yard sale. It looked like it was in good condition, clean and firm. Then I started using it once my daughter was born. It was awful. It was an old, crappy pillow, and I didn’t like it. It slid off my lap. It bent in the middle where there was less stuffing, making the pillow horribly uneven. The surface was lumpy and rounded and baby easily rolled around on it; not really ideal for nursing. After a couple of weeks I shoved it back in the closet and just used a regular pillow. It wasn’t as comfortable since it wasn’t U-shaped but it worked better than the other pillow. A couple of years later I found myself pregnant again. Nursing pillows have actually come a long way in the last couple of years, there are many more options. I looked at them, then looked at the price tags, and thriftiness kicked in. I mean, I was overwhelmed, a first time mom who had no idea what she was doing two years ago. I had gained experience and leveled up. The old nursing pillow would work just fine, right?!
My son was born and I started using the pillow again. I was wrong, nothing had changed. It was awful. It slid off my lap. It bent in the middle. I threw it in the Goodwill box, sighed, and grabbed a regular pillow to use. The lesson here? If someone is selling a perfectly good $40 pillow for $2 at a yard sale, there’s probably a good reason for it. If you’ve decided to buy a nursing pillow, do your research! If we have another kid, I will be getting a brand new nursing pillow that’s higher, flatter, and possibly has a back strap to keep it in place. Sometimes, yard sales have amazing deals. This one was not.