Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Becci Barker, East Morton, Keighley, West Yorkshire, UK
Photo: Girona Consulting
One of the many great things about breastfeeding is that it requires very little, if any, financial outlay. Isn’t Mother Nature great? We have been, in most cases, blessed with everything we need to provide for our young babies. It is certainly not the case that new, or expectant, moms need to rush out to buy fancy nursing clothes.
Despite this, some breastfeeding friends have mentioned how much they miss wearing clothes they used to love, while others have even brought their nursing relationship to a close because they just needed to feel like their old selves again, and their outfits may have been a small part of this. Other friends of mine have never found clothes they feel comfortable wearing while breastfeeding out and about. Personally, I really missed wearing dresses when I breastfed my first child, as they are my usual attire.
While a breastfeeding mother can, and should, wear whatever she likes—no matter how much flesh she exposes when nursing—sometimes it can help boost her confidence in the early days to wear something with some coverage—not to mention on cold wintry days. In the early days, I found that clothes I could wear while breastfeeding that involved as little fuss as possible were the best when I had a hungry baby who wanted his milk right there and then!
Here are some ideas for breastfeeding clothes for all budgets that can help you retain some of the old “you.” After all, this can be hugely beneficial for any mom’s mental wellbeing and we all want to look nice.
Modify your existing closet! Finding clothes that fit the bill needn’t cost a small fortune. The old favorite of many moms I speak to is the “one up, one down” technique. Layer a t-shirt or shirt (ideally not too tight-fitting) over a long, stretchy vest top (the latter can often be found very cheaply in bargain fashion stores). Pull the top layer up and the bottom down and you will create a handy little gap, while keeping some coverage at the top of your chest. I also love a dress or top with a low, stretchy neckline which you can pull down. You can either just pull down and unclip your nursing bra or if you prefer more modesty, wear a crop top or boob tube underneath that you can pull up to get the same effect as with the “double layer” technique. There are even some nursing bras on the market with a “modesty panel” at the top, which can be really handy if you like the ease of just pulling your dress and bra down.
Be savvy with high street styles. There are so many clothes in mainstream stores that work for breastfeeding but sometimes you need to hunt for them. Look out for things like double layer/two-piece dresses, where you can pull up the top layer and pull the bottom one down. Look for cropped t-shirts that can be worn as a top layer and easily lifted up, with a stretchy layer under it to pull down. Other ideas are shirts that unbutton easily, stretchy wrap dresses and thin scarves to delicately drape. Wrap dresses teamed with scarves can be particularly useful for functions such as weddings or posh parties. Large pashmina scarves are ideal for coverage when it is cold. Waterfall cardigans, which have lots of fabric to pull around yourself, can also work very well. Ditto t-shirts or dresses with a line of buttons, or a zip, in the middle of the neckline. Some friends of mine swear by tops and dresses with stretchy armholes that they pull to the side.
Nursing clothes need not be dull! Increasingly, fashion manufacturers are realizing that breastfeeding moms enjoy wearing a wide range of clothes, just as they do when not nursing a child. While typically costing more than regular labels, there are now some budget options for specific breastfeeding wear and some of them are super stylish and trendy. The more expensive labels can frequently be picked up for a fraction of the price on Internet auction or selling sites. I found that splashing out on a few versatile pieces really helped me feel like my old self. It’s worth considering exactly how the pieces work before purchasing and/or checking the returns policy, as some moms find certain types of nursing wear easier to feed in than others.
Be creative! For the crafty mom, making your own nursing clothes, or modifying existing clothes to make them feeding-friendly, is another fabulous option and the perfect way of getting the exact style you want. There are lots of ideas for this online. If you are not handy with the sewing kit yourself, ask a local seamstress to do it for you. They often charge surprisingly reasonable prices.
Have you been creative with finding clothes to wear while breastfeeding? Please share your ideas and photos with us! Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, comment in the box below, or share on our Facebook.