When it comes to a woman’s postpartum life, function and style shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. But for moms who choose to breastfeed or pump, finding tops that are comfortable, fashionable, and conducive to the task at hand can be a tall order.
We’ve done the digging for you, unearthing online boutiques and expert advice for picking the right clothes to make the nursing or pumping process just a tad less daunting. Ready to reclaim your sense of style after baby? Here’s what the pros recommend.
A GOOD FOUNDATION
Even the most well-made blouse is bound to fall short if you’re not wearing the proper bra. Luckily for new moms, there are plenty of beautiful—dare we say, even sexy—nursing bra options on the market today. Online boutiques such as Cantiq LA, Cake Maternity, and You! Lingerie offer supportive and functional nursing bras with a real focus on beauty and style.
When looking at bra sizes, it’s common to go up a cup and band size to accommodate your larger breasts (after your milk comes in) and potentially expanded ribcage. Look for ones that have stretchy fabric at the top of the cup to allow more “give” as your breasts produce and release milk. It’s also a great idea to try them on to make sure they are comfortable and fit well—few things do more damage to your post-baby self-esteem than looking ten pounds heavier due to an ill-fitting bra!
Specially made nursing tops make use of a double layer of fabric to ensure breastfeeding on the go is convenient and discreet. Shops such as Milk Nursingwear, Boob Design, and Seraphine offer high quality basics as well as special occasion options. Keep in mind that nursing tops may be more expensive than your typical everyday shirt, and you may be less likely to wear them once your nursing days are over. But they can be worth every cent if they make nursing easier and more comfortable for you.
Andrea Newberry, the woman behind Leche Libre’s fashion-forward nursing apparel, advises breastfeeding moms pick up a few high quality nursing tops in neutral shades and make them new again by mixing and matching with different skirts, pants, and accessories throughout the week. Button-down shirts are also a go-to for easy access. Finally, pay attention to the fabric if you’re nursing—you want a soft texture next to baby, so think supple cottons, linens, and bamboo fabrics.
When choosing clothing that’s not specially made for new moms, consider the cut. Any item featuring buttons or zippers between the breasts provides an easier nursing experience. Personal stylist Alyssa Peterson recommends wrap dresses, blouses with deep V-necks, and tunics with top buttons for easy access.
Andrea suggests nursing camisoles as well. “Slip a nursing tank beneath a stylish top and utilize the layers to cover up. Just slip the shirt up and unclip the camisole,” she advises.
When it comes to feeling good in your new postpartum body, Alyssa says the finer details matter. You may have to size up to accommodate your changing shape, but be careful that you don’t end up swimming in fabric. “You want to make sure that the blouse or shirt fits your shoulders and is cut straight down from there to ensure that it’s not too tight,” she tells us. For flattering, affordable options, Alyssa suggests the sale racks at Anthropologie and Boden.
Finding a versatile and neutral-hued dress is a must. If you’re not going to spring for a nursing option, look for a wrap dress. This style offers plenty of flexibility—simply pull one side of the bust area down to nurse, and drape a blanket over your shoulder if covering up is important to you. For nursing dresses, we love the Leche Libre options, many of which feature invisible zippers at each side of the bust.
Facing your closet post-baby can be an exercise in despair. To combat this, Andrea encourages new moms to honor the beauty and power of their bodies—and to find comfortable, functional, and stylish pieces that help them feel more at ease in their new role as mothers.