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A tummy pillow is primarily used by ladies who have abdominal surgeries. When you get up or down, cough, sneeze, , laugh, or otherwise have to do anything that puts pressure on the tummy, you hold it firmly against the incision for support. They're also used to place between your tummy and the seatbelt on the ride home from the hospital.
A tummy pillow is about the size of a travel pillow. There is a cute tummy pillow/tote bag combination at the Hyster Sisters store, or you can buy or make your own. Some ladies even use stuffed animals for tummy pillows.
I had abdominal surgery six years ago and used a hospital pillow against my abdomen for about two weeks. I walked everywhere with it, and I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but I totally didn't care! While this sounds bad, it isn't the case - I used a tummy pillow because I was afraid (unjustifyably so) that my insides were going to fall out! After a while I think it was more of a "special" pillow than a necessity.
If you're having an abdominal incision, the pillow/totebag/thank you cards is a great bargain. Good luck, and here's wishing you a speedy recovery!