We wouldn’t begin to tell you what to wear. We salute your confidence, style, and the je ne sais quoi you bring to pregnancy, motherhood, and breastfeeding. We say there are as many ways to dress for breastfeeding and pumping success as there are milk making mamas! (And, don’t forget, we have the smart, stylish accessories to complete your look and hack the breast pump life.)
But if it’s clothing tips and advice you want, we have a few more to offer. Breastfeeding Clothing 102, away we go!
- We begin with another word on nursing bras: Sure, you can take any bra and pull the cup down to expose the breast or take any bra and pull it up over the breast, but do not do this! The pressure of the band on the breast constricts the milk making tissue and can impede the flow of milk, causing something known as plugged ducts. What’s more, it’s downright uncomfortable. Invest in several good nursing bras, including one comfy enough to sleep in. Even if you are not much of a bra wearer now, a little extra support when breasts grow heavy with milk just feels nice.
And if you can keep nursing pads tucked into your bra, you can prevent leaks.
Kidding! You really can’t prevent leaks, you can just stop the milk from getting all over your clothes and sheets. Well, you can’t stop it, but the pads help. The other thing that helps is—
- Printed fabrics. Avoid solid color tops. Particularly for women who have returned to the workplace, printed fabrics will be your friend, gracefully hiding inevitable wet spots. As a matter of fact, it’s a good idea to have a cardigan or loose, unconstructed blazer stashed somewhere at the ready that you can pull on when wet spots happen.
Because no matter how good you are at breastfeeding and pumping, there will be wet spots and you (or someone!) will be doing lots of laundry, both baby’s and your own, which brings us to our next tip—
- Easy care fabrics. Check labels before you buy! Now is not the time for clothing you have to fuss over and (heaven forbid) iron or send to the dry cleaner. Avoid clothes that require hand washing, or even laying flat to dry. It’s just for now, not forever. Go easy on yourself, at least in the beginning while you are getting the hang of everything.
Remember, fresh breastmilk (and the babies who drink it) has (have) a lovely, sweet smell, but left out, breastmilk sours—clothing and sheets will need to be washed frequently.
- What should baby wear? If you are direct nursing, baby will be plastered to your skin quite frequently so be sure baby wears fabrics that feel soft and comfy against your skin as well as hers. (Now is probably not the time for mother/baby matching fisherman sweaters and the like.)
In the beginning, clothes can interfere, and skin-to-skin is the best way to begin your breastfeeding journey. (Note: Breastfeeding triggers baby’s bowel movements, and these early poops can be quite explosive! A diaper is a good idea. Forewarned is fore-armed!)
Another tip: babies exhibit an interesting hand-to-mouth movement, or reflex, in the early days of breastfeeding. The exact purpose of this instinctive behavior is not entirely known, but some say it aids in guiding the baby to the breast and helps the baby organize themselves and prepare for feeding. While baby gowns often extend and fold over baby’s hands, fold these coverings back and expose the hands at feeding time. Keep clothes out of baby’s way.
- What about hooter-hiders? While we would never presume to tell a breastfeeding/pumping mother what not to wear (other than a back zipper or a dress that needs to be pulled up from the bottom!), it is our sincerest hope that you will not be made so uncomfortable about feeding in public that you would need to pitch a tent around yourself while you live your life and do an entirely normal thing. Say it loud, say it proud—if you can, if that suits you. And if it doesn’t, a pretty, lightweight scarf in a breathable fabric draped over one shoulder while you breastfeed should do the trick!
Cheers to you on your breastfeeding journey!