It’s always a pleasure to feature a story on our blog that comes from the heart of one of our Mums. Darnelle Christian is the founder of Zoo Pillow and she shares with us the joy of becoming a mum and the pivotal moments that led to the development of Zoo Pillow.
Where it all began…….
My wonderful bundle of joy, Fletcher Thomas, arrived after a relatively easy uncomplicated 5 hour labour – yes, I know I know “just 5 hours for a first baby,” I should count myself very lucky.
As far as I’m concerned, the real pain and discomfort, associated with the arrival of a baby, started when I tried to breastfeed.
As a 1st time Mum, you only have your instinct and the myriad of advice thrown at, you to draw from. All new parents start with one goal – to do the absolute best for our child, regardless of what that takes; I was no different – so 5 minutes after he was born, Fletch was on the breast wolfing down his first mouthfuls. Well…. that’s what I thought he was doing!
I was later to discover, he was actually making it his little life’s mission to remove my nipples one layer of skin at a time!
By then end of the first 48hrs at home, he was really hungry and letting everyone within a 25km radius know about it. I kept trying my hardest to feed him but every time I put him on my left breast, I tensed, (before he latched) in anticipation of the pain.
Physically I was feeling fine – emotionally, I was starting to feel like a complete failure because I couldn’t feed my baby.
I had been given every piece of well meaning advice, from every conceivable source – the problem was, each piece of new advice given, seemed to conflict with the previous piece of advice given.
A very dear friend, nurse and mother of 4 came to visit on day 3 and said “he’s hungry”- at which point I sobbed. She fed him 20ml of formula and he promptly fell asleep and she said “right – let’s get this breastfeeding sorted!”.
The upshot of it all was that although Fletch was latching beautifully I was not producing milk. I was sitting badly, my posture was terrible and I was very tense.
Most women will tell you, that to feed comfortably, they use cushions, pillows, the arm rest of the couch (almost anything!) to support the arm, that is holding the baby, while they are breastfeeding. What most of us don’t realise, is that while we are doing this, we are sitting with exceptionally poor posture.
Poor posture puts tremendous strain on the muscles in your neck, back and shoulders.
We all know you should sit straight all the time, but the added weight of full breasts and holding the baby, and we are virtually bent over.
The other end of the spectrum has us holding the baby up to the breast and taking the baby’s weight for ten to thirty minutes on one, then the other arm. It really is any wonder we feel that breastfeeding just isn’t the comfortable, natural experience it is supposed to be.
After meeting with wonderful physiotherapists and the hours of discussion that resulted, I learned that it was my posture not the breastfeeding that was causing the horrendous burning pain in my neck and shoulders.
And so, the ZOOPILLOW was created to support feeding mothers. It fits around your waist creating a support for baby, that holds him to exactly the right breast height. It supports your arms and eliminates the need to take any of the baby’s weight while they are at the breast. It allows you to sit comfortably, shoulders relaxed and spine straight. In essence you are cradling baby to your breast instead of taking the baby’s weight in your arms or lifting a shoulder and creating the muscle tension that incorrect posture causes.
Within 2 feeds with the first prototype of Zoo pillow I had learned to relax, the burning pain in my shoulders was gone and importantly Fletch was not picking up on my tension and fear – he was relaxed in himself and feeding well. My milk, while not over abundant, had come in once I relaxed and was now flowing well.
Happy Mum and happy baby 🙂
The Zoo Pillow is designed to support MUM while feeding – either breast or bottle. It eliminates any stress or strain on your neck, back or shoulders while feeding and it promotes correct feeding posture. I personally found it helped with milk flow and have been told by many other Mum’s that it also assisted them in this regard. It can also assist MUM when feeding twin babies.
Zoo Pillow can also be used as a sitting support and tummy time support for your baby as they grow and develop. It has a waterproof inner and a removable and washable cover.
Zoo Pillow is now used by many maternity hospitals, NICU wards and birthing units in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It is also available through the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Multiple Birth Association and baby retail stores throughout the country.