You know that super-comfy, take-it-everywhere breastfeeding pillow you use for a little much-needed support while nursing? It may be doing your baby more harm than good.
According to Pennsylvania coroner Graham Hetrick, these pillows are to blame for the deaths of three infants.
But before we all panic and throw our crescent-shaped companions in the trash, nobody’s saying these pillows aren’t safe when used during breastfeeding. The babies who sadly died did so while they were sleeping — propped up on the pillows.
These pillows were never designed to be sleeping surfaces for infants and should always come with a warning label telling parents to never allow their babies to sleep on them.
Hetrick warned that by propping up a baby on one of the pillows, it increases the risk of suffocation, because there’s a chance the infant could slide down the pillow, causing their neck to bend and their air passages to become blocked.
It’s a far greater risk for young babies who don’t have the strength to pull themselves up after they slide down. The three infants who died were only 2 or 3 months old.
Official guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend always placing a baby to sleep on their back on a firm, well-fitting mattress. Nothing else should be in the baby’s crib, including loose bedding, toys and pillows of any shape. Wearable blankets are a safer alternative to loose blankets if a baby needs extra warmth.
And if you do use a crescent-shaped breastfeeding pillow to position your baby in a more upright position, it’s crucial that you keep a close eye on them at all times.
Any woman who has ever nursed a baby will agree that a supportive breastfeeding pillow makes the task immeasurably more comfortable. It’s hard enough as it is without getting crazy aches and pains from trying to hold an infant in a feeding position without the right support. Regular pillows just don’t do the job. So carry on using your breastfeeding pillows, moms — just be aware that they have their limitations.
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