It’s been 28 months since my breasts took over my life. No seriously- as soon as those two glorious pink lines showed up on the pregnancy test, my boobs were all “LETS DO THIS” and just ballooned to the point where couple of weeks into my pregnancy I met two of my friends for coffee and they actually guessed I was pregnant because of them. Yes, even before I’d told some of my family, my overachieving bosoms were already brazenly giving me away. In the two years since then my boobs have been a pretty central theme in daily life- from just trying to contain the damn things during my pregnancy to, as a breastfeeding mother, having to gain access to them 24/7 for the past 18 months and counting. And it is that last point that I’m here to talk about, dear reader.
Once I’d gotten past the common difficulties of the first weeks of breastfeeding Amelie, I found I then had the challenge of deciding what the hell to wear and putting together a breastfeeding-friendly wardrobe. There are dedicated breastfeeding fashions available, complete with concealed openings and clever draping, but I found they tend to be ridiculously overpriced (around $60 for a pretty unremarkable top) and frankly, a little plain. I also found a lot of these clothes tend to cater to maternity AND breastfeeding. This means you get the afore mentioned concealed openings, but with the standard maternity empire waist and tons of extra bump-friendly fabric up front. While this is a great way to get some extra use from maternity clothes, there will come a point where draping yourself in all that extra fabric might not be the most flattering post-baby look.
So here are some tips I’ve learned from my 18 months of trying to dress as stylishly as possible while being a breastfeeding mother!
Rethink the Nursing Bra
There are two differences between a normal bra and a nursing bra. A) A nursing bra has little clip thingies where the cup attaches to the strap meaning you can ‘unhook’ the cup. The clip makes a little “snap” sound when you undo it which after a while you may find has a strange, almost Pavlovian effect on your newborn. And B) 99.9% of them are fugly as hell. At least for me, nursing bras turned out to be rather unnecessary. The premise seems to be to move the cup out of the way so that you can nurse, but in reality, bras (and the other fabric you are most likely going to be wearing) are hardly made of iron can easily be moved out of the way anyway. Also, I’d hate to count how many times in those fuzzy first few weeks I’d finish a feed, gently lift Amelie from her boppy pillow to burp her then next time I went to feed her find that I’d forgotten to re-do the clasp from last time. That literally happened ALL THE TIME. So maybe don’t splash out on tons of nursing bras until you’re sure that a nice, soft (and nicer looking) bra won’t to the job just as well!
It’s All About Neckline… and Fabric … and Buttons
So, if you are forgoing the specially made breastfeeding garb and want to make normal-people fashion work for you, then one of your biggest considerations is obviously the neckline. Look for v-necks, wrap dresses and lower necklines (you can always add a cami underneath if you like). These necklines all make it super easy to nurse. I’m aaaaall about dresses, but the same holds true for tops. Another consideration is the fabric. I have a few things that look more high-necked but the fabric is nice and stretchy, so I can nurse in them no problem. I even have a couple of knitted tops where this holds true. Also, buttons are a nursing mama’s friend! There are loads of lovely dresses and tops with buttons in the front. (note- if you’re shopping online, be sure to check the buttons are functional before buying! I’ve been burned before! *grumble*) Here are some of my fave nursing friendly dresses at the moment:
If you’re more of a jeans-and-top kinda girl then you can pretty much wear any top you want then wear a camisole under it. When you want to nurse you can just pull up the outer top and the cami will cover your stomach.
This is also a good method if you want super discreet nursing, as someone would have to get right up in your business to see a hint of boobage. Which brings me too…
Keeping You Comfortable
I could go on for literally hours about how women shouldn’t feel pressured to cover up when breastfeeding and how, as a society if we saw more public breastfeeding then then this would help us to raise breastfeeding rates… but that’s not what this is about. My point is, don’t ever feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeding your child, and never let anyone make you feel that you should be covered up or hide away. That said, if YOU feel more comfortable being more covered, then you rock it! There are a whole host of ways you can show less flesh without having to cover your babies head too. In addition to the layering option mentioned above, a scarf is a simple option to keep you more covered, nursing in a sling is good too (you can also use the tail fabric to cover). Keeping more covered can also mean simple things like wearing a cardigan and arranging it to cover more of you. In the summer I’ve also heard of people using oversized sun hats for their babies to help cover more.
Think About Shopping Online
I always find that the more criteria you have for your clothes when shopping, the harder it is to find anything. Also I would much rather spend any spare time I get doing pretty much anything other than waiting in line to try something on, therefor I really recommend you give online shopping a try. As you may have guessed by the pics above, Modcloth is my fave place to shop online, but there are tons of online clothing stores to suit your taste and budget. The ability to search via keywords such as ‘v-neck’ or ‘button down’ along with the colour and/or style you are after is really helpful and will save you so much time. Plus it can be done from the comfort of your sofa when you’re trapped under a sleeping milk-drunk baby, which is a huge bonus!
Don’t Forget the Accessories
When nursing it’s also worth considering your jewelry- specifically necklaces. Once your baby has more motor control they will become obsessed with fiddling with things while nursing- your face, hair, clothes and especially jewelry are all fair game. This is probably a good time to ditch the expensive/dainty/sentimental necklaces and go for something chunky and baby friendly. Some good brands I found are chewbeads and these necklaces on etsy. Both are also safe for teething babies to chew on!
A Note About Dressing for Babywearing
Learning to nurse while babywearing is one of those ‘ah ha’ moments in the life of a nursing mamma. It means hands-free nursing anywhere and you don’t even have to find somewhere to sit down to be able to feed your baby. It’s also super discreet so you can just carry on with what your doing and no ones the wiser However, it’s worth noting that the lift-up-the-outer-top method really wont work well while baby wearing, so plan accordingly!
I’m sure I will have forgotten something, but I do remember googling this type of thing in the early days of breastfeeding and coming up with pretty much nothing. So hopefully this helps someone! Any nursing mammas out there care to share any of their tips and tricks?