Friday, January 10, 2020

My hands-free setup for nursing and computer work

I’m writing this as my 6 month old daughter naps, nestled cozily under my typing hands. She’s conked out thanks to an exciting story time and a nourishing nursing session.

Before I had a baby, I really had no idea how much time it takes to breastfeed a baby. The prenatal classes gave us numbers like “8–12 times a day”, but I didn’t realize that a single session could take up to an hour.

Once I realized that I could potentially be spending 50% of my time on breastfeeding, I became obsessed with finding ways to feel productive during that time. And yes, nursing is highly productive itself (I’m making a gosh darn baby over here!), but I was eager to put my hands and head to work as well.

The first part of my quest: figuring out how to free my hands while nursing. At the beginning, I would always use one of my arms to position my baby’s head, so that arm would be out of commission. I was determined to find a pillow, gadget, or magical spell that would take the place of my arm.

After much experimentation, I found the winning combination:

Photo of glider chair with a Boppy pillow and owl on top
  • A glider chair (a used Dutalier)
  • A standard Boppy pillow
  • A stuffed owl that I bought for fun years ago. This was just one of many pillow-like objects that I tried out in combination with the Boppy.

The key aspect of the owl is that it is fairly hard; it retains its shape. That means I can place it underneath the Boppy, on whichever side my baby is nursing, and it will elevate her head to the correct height. Sadly, the owl is no longer being sold, but anything of similar shape and hardness would work.

At this point, I could use my hands to read my Kindle, use my phone, and eat. But I had a dream of using my hands to code while I nursed.

Thus, the next part of my quest: being able to use my hands with a laptop. I found a swivel laptop stand that can position my laptop close to me when it’s safe to do so and can be easily pushed away when the baby wakes up.

Photo of glider chair with swivel stand in front and laptop on top

I’m quite happy with the setup. While I was still on leave, I managed to learn an entirely new programming language while my baby was nursing and napping. Now that I’m back at work(ing from home), she’s in the care of an amazing nanny most of the day. However, I still use the nursing station to get a few more hours of work done during her final nap of the day.

I’m sharing my setup in case it helps other mothers with similar needs. I’d love to hear about how other mothers accomplish similar goals in the comments.

Also: if any inventors are reading this, please invent new nursing pillows! 🙏

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