Editor’s note: The gorgeous Jasmine Hunt from Pretty Chuffed had her second baby late last year and is back on the blog with tips on what to wear while breastfeeding. Jasmine will also be popping up here more frequently this year with great style tips for stay-at-home mums. You may also find breastfeeding style tips in this post.
Pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding can be some of the biggest challenges in a woman’s life, and they can also be a bit of a challenge in the wardrobe department, too.
Last year, while pregnant with my second child, I wrote a post here about what to wear while pregnant, (you can read it here) and now I’ve had my little babe (a daughter we named Audrey), I’m back to talk about what to wear when breastfeeding.
Whether you’re breastfeeding (or plan to) for a month, six months or 24 months or more, or anywhere in between, you’re going to need to adjust your wardrobe slightly to accommodate. And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be expensive, as I’ll show below.
There are a few basic items that make nursing in style easy, and you don’t necessarily have to buy clothing marked “nursing”. In fact, most of my wardrobe is not nursing-specific.
The basics of a breastfeeding-friendly wardrobe should allow easy access to the bust and usually consists of fabrics and colours that are not easily see-through or stained. It also helps if they’re machine washable. Trust me, now is not the time to wear your good silk tops. Also out are bodycon, shift style dresses or those with a high neckline. Apart from those, there really are a lot of options and if you’re willing to be a bit creative, even more so.
The basics of an affordable breastfeeding-friendly wardrobe: Dresses
Now, many would say it’s easier to stick to separates when breastfeeding for easy access, however I tend to gravitate towards dresses as they’re just so easy, especially in summer. There are four major types I like, the button up or zip shirt dress, wrap dresses, strappy and off the shoulder.
A staple in my wardrobe at any stage in my life, a shirt dress has the ability to make you look polished in no time. Versatile for dressy or casual occasions, look for buttons or zips that are easy to undo and do back up with one hand (as you’ll often be holding the baby with the other!). You can find shirt dresses at just about any high street store or online these days, as luckily they’re right on trend. Here’s some of my favourites. Try this zip dress at Little Party Dress, this shirt dress at Billy J, or this one at Bohemian Traders, another shirt dress at Target a basic black midi shirt dress at ASOS, or this button front maxi at Little Party Dress.
Remember the wrap dresses I told you to buy when you’re pregnant? They come into their own when you’re breastfeeding, just pull it to the side and Hello! Stretchy, jersey style wrap dresses are great, like this one at ASOS.
Strappy dresses are great if the straps allow you to fold them down (so no cross-over or t-bar backs). I wear mine with a strapless bra, and I receive many questions about what sort of strapless bra I wear that is also breastfeeding friendly. Basically, I wear a stretchy, padded, bandeau bra I picked up in a pack of two at Kmart for $12. I purchased a specific maternity/nursing bra from the La Lache League and to be honest it was very similar to the Kmart ones. I just fold it down to feed. With strappy dresses, I then pull the straps to the side. My current favourites include a maxi dress from Frankie and Co and an oldie from St Frock. Similar here.
Off the shoulder
Ditto with the strapless bra, as above. And also, you’ll flash quite a lot of flesh with an off the shoulder dress while you’re feeding – I’m comfortable with it but just something to keep in mind. You can always throw a muslin wrap or a scarf over your shoulder if you’re feeling a bit too ‘bare’. I’m loving this one from Shabby Sisters and this one from Little Party Dress.
Breastfeeding-friendly wardrobe basics: Separates
With tops, I look for many of the qualities I’ve spoken about with dresses, above. Wrap styles or those that button or zip up are great as they mean you don’t have to flash your stomach. Luckily these sorts of tops are actually quite easy to come by at the moment as they’re right on trend. Here’s some of my favourites. Try these at St Frock.
Buy a couple of nursing singlets (like these from Bonds or Target) in black and white. You can wear these alone with pants, shorts or a skirt or underneath other tops so you don’t have to bare your stomach if you don’t want to. I wore a couple of black ones with loose harem pants in the hospital, and with shorts and a kimono when we came home. In the early days of breastfeeding you want the easiest access possible and these are easy and comfortable.
I love oversized button-up shirts, especially in winter with jeans or leggings. They’re also great worn half-tucked into shorts or worn open over a nursing singlet. I’ve found many favourites at op shops, or these at Target, St Frock, ASOS or Sportsgirl.
Simple, loose t-shirts can be your best friend and if you’re not comfortable baring your stomach, wear a nursing singlet underneath.
Basics to a breastfeeding-friendly wardrobe: Nursing specific
I find with many items that are specifically nursing friendly are made mostly for maternity wear, and the ability to nurse is just an afterthought.
However, there are a few nursing specific labels on the market. Check out Bump, Baby and Beyond, Blossom & Glow, Milk and Love or Mamma’s Got Milk for a few options. Mammabelle also makes maternity/nursing dresses that are flattering on a post-baby body. If you’re pregnant and thinking of buying some maternity/nursing items to wear post-birth, look for those items that are a bit more flowy, or styles that don’t need a baby bump to look good.
Shop your wardrobe first. Have a few old oversized shirts in the wardrobe? These will be great for breastfeeding, worn over shorts or jeans. Already have a few shirt dresses? Have a wrap top you can wear with jeans?
Try on your clothes and test out the “bust baring” ability of each item (either those items in your wardrobe or before you purchase). Try pulling down, pulling to the side, unbuttoning etc.
Don’t wear anything too tight or anything that cuts into the bust in any way. Ditto for anything that is time consuming or difficult to open or allow access. When you have a crying bub you don’t want to be there fiddling around with 1000 buttons. And with anything too tight there’s a risk of blocked ducts and mastitis.
Think outside the square, and ask questions. For example if you’re buying online, ask the store if the buttons on the shirt dress are functional, or if the wrap is a “true wrap” or a faux wrap (you want the true wrap for easy access!).
I find prints are great for disguising any milk leakages and natural fabrics are even better if you can grab them, especially in summer.
Carry a spare muslin wrap and/or a scarf in your bag at all items when out and about, especially in the early days. When bub is just working out how to feed there may be a few leakages and if you need to cover it up, you can. (Of course, they also serve well as a blanket, vomit rag … so much glamour!)
With accessories, lay off the statement necklaces and bracelets for a while. You don’t want them to be in your way or to be digging into bub’s head! Try sparkly stud earrings, or alternatively there are feeding-friendly jewellery ranges on the market, try Dove and Dovelet or search on Etsy or Instagram for other local options.
Wear what you love. I love the off the shoulder look so there was no way I was not going to rock the look although I’m breastfeeding. Give it a try, if it doesn’t work for you, at least you’ve given it a go.
Are you breastfeeding right now? What are your go-to clothing items?
Jasmine Hunt is a Brisbane-based clothes lover, style blogger, mother, wife and professional window shopper who loves to find the latest trends on a bargain and shares them on her blog Pretty Chuffed www.prettychuffed.com.au. Pretty Chuffed is a blog that aims to share the fun, the fashionable and the affordable, because you don’t need to spend a lot of money to look and feel great. Jasmine posts what she is wearing every day on her Instagram account @PrettyChuffed.