When you talk to most lactation consultants, and I talked to several, they will urge you not to use the pre-made nursing pillows. The position that most will recommend is a 45-degree angle in which the baby is positioned laying across mom’s body in the cradle hold position. The reason they are not huge fans of the pillow is because it puts the infant in a horizontal lying position that reduces gravity, which helps in digestion.
However, the pillow can be helpful early on when you are learning to nurse and especially helpful when learning the football hold. Many new moms will learn this position first since it allows the most control of the newborn’s head when placing baby on the breast.
While learning the football hold I tried two pillows, the Boppy and the Brestfriend. Of the two the Brestfriend was by far my favorite since the strap is adjustable and clasps securely like a backpack waist strap. The Boppy seemed to slide around and I was never able to get into an optimal position. I only used it for about two weeks until I transitioned to the cradle hold and found it better to just use an arm chair or a small pillow under my supporting arm.
See both positions below. You can find out more techniques for each on the La Leche League website: http://www.llli.org. There is a local chapter in San Jose that meets the first Thursday of every month near the Rose Garden.