I cannot stress enough the importance of nursing pillows. When I was gifted my first, I thought it was cumbersome, took up space and there was no way I would use such an annoying shaped pillow. I say to my past self, "Oh how naive you were."
Instead, I opted to contort my wrist into all manner of bizarre shapes to accommodate the constant and time consuming necessity of breast feeding, causing myself serious injury while thinking it would get better.
Babies feed for SUCH a long time. My bubs fed for hours on end in the early weeks. Some days it seemed like he spent more time 'on the boob' than off. I relied on cushions and blankets to prop him up into a comfortable position. Then one day I recalled that awkward pillow this friend of mine had gifted me and decided to dust off the plastic wrapping and give it a crack. They come in all manner of shapes and sizes but a good one like this one will last you for multiple children and you may want to use it as your normal pillow for years to come. It's actually a great pillow for also resting between your legs if you're a side sleeper to prevent your pelvis from tilting inwards (and saving your lower back from excrutiating pain).
But more importantly, let me tell you, it’s life changing for comfort when feeding.
The thing is with newborns, they don’t rest naturally in the crook of your elbow like you see in all the photos and in the movies. You have to hold them against the breast and support their necks from wobbling at an awkward angle (not from the elbow). They also take some time to work out what to do and it can sometimes be weeks (or even months) before you find a ‘groove’ that works for the both of you. So in the meantime, you’re stuck holding them in odd positions until that happens.
Don’t do what I did and ignore wrist pain, thinking that ‘it must be normal’ and put up with it. I ended up with a condition known as Dequervain’s Syndrome which is a kind of tendonitis. The way physios test for this is by making a fist with the offending hand and rocking it side to side. If you nearly pass out with pain, then that’s a clear sign you have the condition. A professional will diagnose it of course so don’t just take my word for it. But the strategy for my recovery meant putting it in a wrist brace for several weeks to give it a rest. I'm telling you this is harder than it sounds when you need to pick up a 10 kilo little monster baby 10-20 times a day. But the brace has helped and gradually, day by day, it’s gotten a lot better. Six months on and I do still feel a niggle now and then, but it’s only slight.
My advice to other new mothers is to invest in a good quality nursing pillow with a couple of spare covers when the milk dribble gets all over it (because it will). You could make your own cover if you’re into that kind of thing. My nursing pillow has also doubled as the very best snuggly comfort pillow for me when I was so darn tired and able to find a couple of precious hours to nap on the couch.