As a new mom I spent hours nursing. I used a multi-functional, semicircle-shaped breastfeeding pillow that I had received as a shower gift. Although of average height and breast size, it was too low, causing me to support my baby's weight to raise him up to the correct nursing height. When tired, my arms would frequently sink onto it, dragging my baby's mouth and my nipples down. To compensate, I would hunch my back and shoulders. As a result, I had persistent sore nipples, migraines from shoulder and back strain, and pain in my wrists from supporting his weight.
In the moments I was hooking up my nursing bra, my son would often roll on it's rounded upper surface either away from me, almost falling on the floor, or into me and get stuck in the gap where it circled my waist. I couldn't use it in the nursery since it would not fit between the arms of my glider rocker. Then I remembered all the photos on the packaging showed women sitting cross legged on the floor wearing it. No wonder! They couldn't fit into their furniture. I'm not sure how spending 12 hours a day sitting cross legged on the floor is supposed to be ergonomic.
At two weeks my baby developed reflux, a fairly common condition. Medical research dictated nursing him on an incline. Unable to find an inclined breastfeeding pillow, I resorted to contorting my body to raise up the pillow. This further aggravated my back. My baby would constantly spit up or vomit on it. Each time I had to wash the entire pillow since the cover was not water resistant. In addition, it was large and bulky and did not store well, often falling on the floor when I tried to hook it on the sofa arm, requiring yet more washings. With every washing the pillow degraded a little bit more, taking my son further and further from my breast each time.
Finally, at 8 weeks, my son was too long and too wide to fit on it anymore. My nipples were still cracked and sore and my back and shoulders ached. I seriously considered switching to formula. As a last ditch effort, I contacted a wonderful lactation consultant, Renee Beebe. She pointed out that Max's low positioning due to the breastfeeding pillow being the wrong height was creating much of the soreness in my nipples. I decided to look for a different breastfeeding pillow.
I did an internet search and saw another breastfeeding pillow I was unfamiliar with. It sounded height adjustable and the photo showed a woman nursing a baby on what looked to be something of an angle. When it arrived it was pretty much a Boppy made of beans that had been photographed from some clever camera angles. You could push the beans around a little, but not enough to get a real incline.
Back to the internet. I tried using a pregnancy wedge but that turned out to be a 10 degree angle made of soft, unsupportive foam. I finally found an obscure nursing wedge on some website in Australia. When it finally arrived it turned out to be about a 12 degree angle, much like the pregnancy wedge. Not much of a wedge. Enough already.
I did a quick tally in my mind: I had already spent $174, not including shipping on breastfeeding pillows that didn't work for me! It was time for desperate measures.
I began designing a better breastfeeding pillow. It had to be firm enough to support his weight but cushioning enough for him to relax, adjustable in height and accommodate him as he grew, angled for better digestion and water resistant. The Pollywog was "spawned"!
p.s. I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to Renee Beebe. If it wasn't for her I would have given up breastfeeding at 8 weeks, my son's reflux would have been much more severe, and none of this ever would have happened! Her positive support for me, my son, and the Pollywog Nursing Positioner has kept me going. Thanks, Renee!