Ways to Use Your Sleepybelly Pregnancy Pillow to Support Feeding Your Baby
Undoubtedly, your Sleepybelly pillow has been your best friend throughout your pregnancy, as it has been for me. The use of supportive props goes a long way in making your breastfeeding and feeding journey feel comfortable and sustainable. I want to share some new ways to make the most out of this versatile and supportive pillow when feeding your baby.
Sleepybelly and Breastfeeding
As an IBCLC lactation consultant, I am frequently asked about the best breastfeeding pillow. There are numerous options on the market, but if you don’t need to purchase something new, I highly recommend continuing to use your pregnancy pillow to support your breastfeeding and feeding comfort. When assisting clients, I personally find that typical C-shaped breastfeeding pillows are very restrictive and can only be used in one specific feeding position (the Cross Cradle Hold). I prefer to work with the furniture that clients find most comfortable, typically in the bedroom and living areas. What I love about using the Sleepybelly to support breastfeeding is that it consists of three parts: the long pillow and the two smaller wedge pillows. This allows for maximum customization when selecting a pillow for support, which is crucial because each mother and baby’s body is unique.
1. Reclined Breastfeeding: This is the most common and sustainable breastfeeding position. It isn’t typically taught in hospitals, as mothers and breastfeeding parents are often encouraged by staff to be very hands-on when getting their baby to latch onto the breast. However, there is more evidence to support baby-led attachment, letting the baby find the nipple and breast on their own, with the correct body and positional support – which is best done in a reclined breastfeeding position. Another reason I favour the reclined position is that reclining the spine takes the pressure off the mother’s body. Sitting upright places the most pressure on the spine, which may cause lingering discomfort from pregnancy and birth. When the mother’s torso is reclined, the baby’s weight is distributed across her torso, reducing arm fatigue, which is common when feeding in an upright position, as typically encouraged in the cross-cradle hold.
The Sleepybelly long pillow provides excellent lower back support, and the smaller pillows fit well under a mother’s elbows. You can also wedge them under the baby’s feet when the baby is in a more horizontal position. It’s important to support the baby’s feet, as their feet help them understand their surroundings. Supporting your baby’s feet with a firm yet soft pillow is better than letting them dangle in mid-air.
2. Side Lying: It’s important to continue pelvic support even when you aren’t pregnant anymore. Side lying is one of my top breastfeeding positions to recommend to new parents, as it feels very restful and sustainable. Many parents choose this position at night or when they need some physical rest. Side lying is also a wonderful option if you are choosing to honour your first forty days postpartum by having as much horizontal rest as possible.
The larger Sleepybelly pillow can support a mother’s hips and gently hold the baby in place by supporting their back. The small pillows tuck nicely under the baby’s head for tailored support. The wedge pillows also work well to keep the baby’s back in place, so their entire torso faces their mother.
3. Underarm Hold: This position is also known as twin style, football, or rugby hold. Among the three positions I’m covering here, this one requires the most support from good pillows. This position can be ideal for mothers with fuller breasts who have difficulty visualizing their baby’s face and for those with a lower nipple position, allowing the baby to attach from underneath the nipple rather than from above. The underarm position is typically used for early or smaller babies and for twins when they are ready to be tandem-fed.
Use the Sleepybelly long pillow to support the mother’s arm and the baby’s body, and the smaller wedge pillows can be used to elevate the long pillow, allowing the baby’s face to be supported close to the breast, relieving pressure on the mother’s wrists.
Sleepybelly and Bottle Feeding
The Sleepybelly pillow can also support a mother and baby’s posture during bottle feeding. As an IBCLC, I always support my clients in feeding their babies with the Paced Bottle Feeding Method (PBFM). Feeding your baby with PBFM, regardless of age, allows them to pace their drinking much better than when a bottle is tilted down toward their mouth. This method provides:
– A less contrasting experience compared to breastfeeding
– Less likelihood of overfeeding
– Reduced chances of milk spillage or post-feed vomiting
– A more content and settled baby after feeding
– A calmer and more enjoyable feeding experience
The method requires the baby’s torso to be upright, and the bottle to be horizontal. PBFM allows the baby to take a pause when they want to, which is challenging when the bottle is tilted down into their mouth in a more reclined position.
Paced Bottle Feeding Method Steps:
1. Hold the baby upright and support behind their neck and shoulders to ensure stability.
2. Fill the bottle teat with milk and rest it on your baby’s lips. Wait for them to invite the bottle into their mouth.
3. When the baby starts to suck, tilt the bottle to a horizontal angle (parallel to the floor). The teat will be about half filled with milk.
4. Let the baby continue to suck until they take a natural pause.
5. Tilt the base of the bottle downwards while keeping the teat in their mouth.
6. Let the baby have a brief rest, then repeat **Step 3** and continue until your baby has finished.
Sleepybelly and Digestion Support
Giving your baby some upright time after feeding is a beautiful way to support their digestion. As your baby grows older, they will want to spend more time upright and experience play and interaction with the world. You can prop your baby in a seated position against the larger pillow and use the smaller wedge pillows to support your baby on either side.
Sleepybelly and Tummy Time
Supporting your baby as they spend time on their tummy can be a great way to build their strength and stamina during upright bottle feeding and when introducing solids (recommended from 6 months onwards). Use the smaller wedge-shaped pillow under your baby’s torso to elevate their upper chest and head, making them feel more comfortable and allowing them to lift their head more easily. It also provides better visual access to their surroundings. Watch for signs that your baby may be spending too much time on their tummy, such as becoming grizzly or unsettled. In such cases, turn them onto their back or pick them up for a quick hug before trying tummy time again. Doing this daily from birth will help your baby practice the muscles they need to hold their head up and maintain upright positions.
There are numerous reasons to love your Sleepybelly pillow, and it has many uses, making it a sustainable and affordable option. I’m always excited to hear that my clients have a Sleepybelly pillow because I know they will get so much use out of it.
Head to Sleepybelly and use code JWPCARE for 10% off any pillow and cases.