We talked to Hilde Tavares and Ann Kristin Homdrum, both bbhugme® Founders, renowned Norwegian chiropractors, and busy mums on the thought and innovation that went into the bbhugme® Nursing Pillow.
As we talked, the two founders shared some invaluable insight, advice, and experience from years of taking care of pregnant women, new mums, and babies in their clinics.
Q: Where and when was the idea for the bbhugme® Nursing Pillow born?
Hilde: We didn’t set out to create a series of products or a business when we started out. Our ‘original idea’ – the bbhugme® Pregnancy Pillow was initially just called the ‘bbhugme® Pillow’ – a second product wasn’t even on the horizon then.
The pregnancy pillow was multi-functional from the start – something that has always been a part of our product philosophy. But as mothers ourselves, we knew the need to be able to comfortably feed your baby anywhere and anytime. While parents were using the bbhugme® Pregnancy Pillow for nursing as well, it was rather big and inconvenient. You couldn't carry it out or travel with it.
We had another focus: Adjustability. Adjustability is important because you have different breast sizes and babies are different shapes and sizes too. Ideally, you need a form of support that would adjust to the mum and the baby, which the other nursing pillows on the market did not provide.
All in all, we just knew that we could make a better nursing pillow than what was out there!
Q. What are some of the most common problems that new mums face with nursing and feeding positions?
Ann Kristin: Aching shoulders, bad posture, and painful necks are challenges we see a lot with feeding parents. They are carrying their babies all day and all night, and often without the right support. Dads have these problems too, with bottle-fed babies.
Hilde: By the time we started talking about these challenges and designing the nursing pillow, we had identified our mission as a company: We wanted to build smart, functional products for the families that we take care of. We knew that a lot of nursing pillows on the market just didn’t work. You couldn’t attach or adjust them to your body. They were not ergonomic.
As a new mum, you have a lot going on – you’ve got the baby to maneuver, your breast or the bottle, and then if you also have to maneuver a pillow that doesn’t adjust well, it can become too much. The big challenge was that the lack of properly designed support made feeding stressful and uncomfortable for new mums.
Q. Is there one ‘best’ position, or is every mum and baby different? What are the key criteria to finding your 'best' position?
Ann Kristin: Every mum will usually need to find the best breastfeeding position for them, from a cradle position to a ‘rugby ball hold’ under the arm to your baby lying on you when you’re on your back. With bottle-feeding, the most common position is the cradle or cross-cradle position.
What you are looking for ideally is that you are comfortable, and your baby is stable and well-supported. You want to make sure that the baby’s head, neck, and spine are not twisted during a feed.
Hilde: Feeding is this whole coordinated event, in a sense. A lot of things have to align and work all at once. That’s why there are so many challenges around it. It’s also important to change it up and get comfortable with different positions – for baby and mum.
Q. Why is it important to change feeding positions every once in a while?
Hilde: There are a few reasons this becomes important. Sometimes, babies have a hard time turning their necks to one side. Adjusting and changing positions allows you to identify any of these challenges and allows your baby to develop and grow in a balanced manner.
Think of your baby’s brain as a new hard disk that is going to be programmed. You need to stimulate their body and their brains from different sides. Switching breasts or switching sides bottle-feeding gives your baby that much-needed variety. Eyesight, hearing, hand-eye coordination should all be stimulated on both sides for proper, balanced neural connections.
And so, when you’re switching up positions, it becomes even more important that you have the right support from a good, adjustable nursing pillow that changes as you and your baby change and grow.
Q. Are there other benefits to being pain-free and comfortable when you’re feeding, apart from the obvious physical benefits?
Ann Kristin: The one factor that makes feeding more challenging is stress. I see a lot of new mums stress when they are feeding their baby – they lean forward to bring the breast to the baby’s mouth and end up doing a lot of wrong things. Their spines are uncomfortable, and their bodies are stressed. But if mum is comfortable and baby is well-supported, it allows her to breathe better, relax, focus on and have a better emotional connection with her child.
Hilde: New, inexperienced mums have got a big drive to make this work. As Ann Kristin said, that makes these new mums want to lean in and hunch forward when they're feeding. It shouldn't be that way. Instead, the baby should ‘come to mum’ for a feed.
When new mums can be comfortable during a feed, they produce less of the stress hormone cortisol and more of the love hormone, oxytocin. Being 20-30 cm away from your baby’s face and making eye contact with your baby also stimulates your oxytocin – and that helps to release the milk easier.
Q. Your favourite bbhugme product?
Hilde: I had my kids before these products came to be, but if I had to pick one, it would be the bbhugme® Pregnancy Pillow. I had severe nausea during all three pregnancies, so I was bed-ridden for the first six months. I spent a lot of time lying down, and a good body pillow would have been magical!
Ann Kristin: I gave birth in December 2020, and the bbhugme® Nursing Pillow has literally been by my side since then. My hands are free, and I can have low shoulders whilst Angel is safe and comfortable.
I also love the fact that it´s adjustable, because I tend to vary the firmness so that it gives me optimum comfort. It’s light weight too, and that makes it super practical to bring with me on the go. I use it at home, of course, but I also bring it with me in the car, when I go visit people, to the cabin, and I will definitely take it on holiday when everything opens up again.