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Dressing for Breastfeeding With Style
When I was enormously 9 months pregnant, I wanted two things. I wanted to hold my baby and I wanted to be able to tuck my shirt in again.
After my baby was born, I realized that tucking your shirt in is highly overrated. You may think wearing a shirt is overrated when you are pulling your breast out multiple times in a day to feed this ravenous little person.
Every woman wants to look her best. But let’s be real, it can be challenging looking put together when you are dressing for breastfeeding. Fashion choices can seem limited. And who has the time to think too much about it?
Truth be told, it can be challenging getting your teeth brushed before you head out the door. Does chewing mint gum count? Asking for a friend.
Sure, there are all those cute nursing clothes. But many mamas don’t want to invest a whole lot of money in too many of those.
You may be asking yourself, “What special nursing clothes do I need and how can I make the most of the clothes in my closet?”
“Do I even need special nursing clothes?”
Keep reading and I’ll tell you the secrets to looking put together, even when you feel anything but. I’ll let you know what nursing clothes that only but the most creative women can live without.
Your Secret Weapon: a Nursing Tank Top
This is the one fancy schmancy piece of nursing clothing I highly recommend. And if it’s stretchy enough around the top, any tank can be a nursing tank top.
The beauty of the nursing tank top is that you can layer them under anything. You pull up your shirt and your mummy tummy is still covered. Voila, you have a nursing top!
Some nursing tank tops have a built-in nursing bra. Gotta love a two-for-one!
You really need some nursing bras. You need quick and easy access to the girls. I’ve seen moms try pulling a regular bra up but that puts a lot of pressure on the breast. That is something that can lead to clogged ducts. So, you’ll definitely want to avoid that.
Comfort and convenience are the names of the game when choosing a nursing bra. They don’t have to look like they came out of your grandma’s closet either.
Nursing bras have come a long way. Some are so pretty that you may even want to wear it when you are finished nursing. Yea, I knew that was a stretch, but you can’t blame me for tryin’. But these bras are pretty.
You have so many that you can choose from. Whatever you choose, make sure they are easy to latch and unlatch. Practice doing it with your eyes closed. When your hands are full of baby you won’t be able to focus on that hook.
You’ll also want your nursing bras to be made of absorbent and breathable material. Leaky breasts are a fact of life for most breastfeeding moms. Nursing pads help but they aren’t foolproof. I can guarantee that some milk will end up on your bra.
Pssst, grab this offer for some free nursing pads. Use the Code BFC1SAVE.
Nursing sleep bras
I used to wonder why someone would need a sleep bra. Then I was trying to latch my bra in the middle of the night in the dark and said, “Yea, that’s why.”
A sleep bra is made of super-stretchy material so you can just pull it down. That way you don’t have to fumble with hooks or clips in your half-awake state.
Even if you don’t normally wear a bra to bed, you’ll want to when you are breastfeeding. You need something to hold bra pads in place.
Leaking doesn’t stop just because you are sleeping. In fact, the middle of the night is when you make the most milk. That’s because of higher prolactin levels. But, I digress.
You can get nursing bras at so many places.
Even Victoria Secret’s!
Clothing designed for nursing
The other thing that has come a long way are nursing clothes. Some of it is super cute! These are some items that do not scream “I’m a nursing clothing item.”
Click on any of the clothing items to see different views.
I would wear any of these things today, and my breastfeeding days are long over.
Where to Shop for Nursing Clothes
Brick and Mortar stores that carry nursing clothes are few and far between.
There are an abundance of online stores though.
Best Nursing Clothes to Purchase
If you want to invest in some nursing clothing, these are some good choices.
Nursing shirts. Look for things that you can envision wearing when you are no longer nursing. Depending on the climate that you live in you may want both short and long sleeves. They even make nursing hoodies!
If you wear dresses the options get into serious cute and fashionable territory.
If you work in an environment where you have to wear a suit and you want to wear a nursing top for easy pumping access I recommend simple t’s. Solid colors are going to give you the most professional look. However, patterns and prints will hide milk stains if you spring any leaks. It’s a good idea to have a spare shirt on hand in a neutral color for any serious issues. The other lifesaver in case of milk stains on your shirt is a vest.
Closet Shopping for Nursing Clothes
When thinking about what you can wear when you are dressing for breastfeeding you will definitely want to check out what you already own. Most mamas don’t have the budget to purchase an entire new nursing wardrobe when they are dressing for breastfeeding.
This is when you need to take a look at what is in your closet. You may be packing some things away for a while. If your plan is to nurse into toddlerhood you may even want to make a visit to a consignment shop. It doesn’t hurt to make some cash off of those clothes you’ll need to say bye-bye to.
Deciding if an item of clothing is going to be breastfeeding friendly will depend on not only the item of clothing but the size of your breasts.
Breastfeeding friendly clothes will be things you can pull up and are either loose or stretchy.
T-shirts, sweaters, knit tops, these will all do a great job of giving you good accessibility to your breasts when it’s mealtime. Practice before you need to feed. There are few things that are worse than trying to pull out your breast when you have a hungry baby and your shirt is too tight.
Button down shirts may or may not work. If they are loose you are probably good to go. If they are very fitted you will either be uncomfortable or need to unbutton your shirt all the way. The other thing to consider is the time it takes to unbutton, and the logistics of hanging on to your baby while you are buttoning. Especially if you are planning to go out, you should practice at home first.
Wrap and cross-over shirts and dresses tend to be very breastfeeding friendly.
Nursing Patterns for Breastfeeding
Some of you mamas know your way around a sewing machine and can whip up some nursing clothes in no time.
If you are not an experienced seamstress but capable there are some easy peasy patterns out there. This is one of those times when Pinterest is your friend.
Make sure you request access to my DIY tutorial for a super-cute nursing top you can make with a t-shirt you might have in your own closet.
If you sleep in a t-shirt then you can skip over this section. If you like to sleep in pretty nightgowns (I was that person once upon a time) you’ll want to think about how accessible it is. If it has buttons down the front it may be accessible, but let’s do a reality check. Who want to be buttoning and unbuttoning in the middle of the night?
A nursing nightgown is another item where you might want to invest in a nursing version. I like this one because it has a built-in bra.
Covering Up While Breastfeeding
Some moms don’t want to invest in any nursing clothes or think too much about what they choose to wear. When they are out and about they just use a nursing cover. Or nothing at all. (More on that in a minute).
There are a variety of nursing covers. I can’t say I am very pro-nursing cover because to me they look like a neon sign pointing to what you are doing, inviting more looks or stares. Also, some babies find them very distracting or it makes them hot. If you use one and it works for you then you may want to skip over this part.
I do think these nursing scarfs are kind of cool. One even works as a car seat cover.
I think this is a very chic look.
I really like the idea of a kimono or shawl.
This is not really a scarf, but I think it is a super cute look, so I had to include it.
Not Covering Up
Some moms don’t cover up. Nursing is a natural thing so there really is no need to cover up. To these moms I say, you go girlfriend!
I have always maintained that the more people see moms and babies nursing the more normalized it will become. IMO people who get bent out of shape when they see a nursing couplet just need to get over themselves. But that’s another post I wrote.
Clothes for Working and Pumping
If you work in an environment where you have to wear a suit and you want to wear a nursing top for easy pumping access I recommend simple t’s. Solid colors are going to give you the most professional look. However, patterns and prints will hide milk stains if you spring any leaks.
It’s a good idea to have a spare shirt on hand in a neutral color for any serious issues. The other lifesaver in case of milk stains on your shirt is a vest. If you wear a suit or just a jacket you can always button it.
A lot of the dresses I have shown you tend to the casual side. There are dressier, more business appropriate options.
Worst Things to Wear When Breastfeeding
A dress that you have to pull over your head or that zips up the back. The problem with these is obvious.
Anything that is really tight and would be uncomfortable for you to get your breast out.
Go From Functional to Fashionable
There are some quick and easy ways to not only be able to breastfeed easily, but to look really great when doing it.
Have several scarfs and throw one of those on. I don’t know what it is about scarfs, but they seem to instantly turn you into a fashionista.
Put on a jacket. Casual hoodies are for home. Anything from a denim jacket to a blazer will make you look more put together.
Cute shoes! There are a multitude of adorable flats if you are not into heels and it’s just a fact of life that cute shoes ups your fashion game.
When you are at home, you can rock your yoga pants to your heart’s content. But when you are going out or going to have company, remember my motto…”Life is a big event. Dress for it.” (And yes, I came up with that on my own.)
Dressing for Breastfeeding With Style
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.