Here's the Deal with your Maternity, Breastfeeding, and Postpartum Wardrobe
When I got pregnant, I knew I would need some maternity clothes. I put the task off as long as I could - I even used a trick with a rubber band I saw online. When my jeans no longer buttoned, I hooked a rubber band through the belt loop and around the button, to expand the waist a few inches more. There are many temporary and clever fixes to make your pre-pregnancy clothes "stretch" as the months tick on.
When I finally went to a local maternity boutique to buy some actual maternity clothes, I wished I would have done it sooner! Not only did I feel good buying new clothes that celebrated my changing body, I felt more comfortable wearing clothes specifically designed for pregnancy. I invested in a pair of jeans with a soft band around the waist that would work for the rest of my pregnancy and after baby. I bought a few tops that had room in the belly and even some ruching on the sides. New clothes are fun! A lot of my pregnancy up to that point had felt ugly and limiting. I had morning sickness, and I didn't really "look" pregnant, just like I had gained weight. The "fun" of being pregnant really hadn't happened yet.
When my belly actually started to look pregnant, and not just full of cheeseburgers and pizza, I started wearing fitted tops. I steered away from wearing tight clothing before being pregnant, because, like many women, I always wanted to hide my shape, especially my mid-section. It felt freeing to pull a tight tank top over my baby bump and show it off with pride. I didn't even have to suck it in! Embracing your new shape is definitely a plus to being pregnant.
Of course, 9 months is short and also long! By the time I had my baby, I was tired of wearing the small amount of maternity clothes I had purchased and anxious to get back into my old wardrobe. To my dismay, I realized two issues: one, my body would not be ready to wear my old clothes for another few months. And two, I was breastfeeding, which brought up a whole new issue with wardrobe!
Even tops and dresses that I could fit into after having a baby would not work for nursing.
When I stared at my closet and my options, I seriously questioned my goal to breastfeed for a year. How could I breastfeed for a year when I didn't know what to wear? I wanted to give up.
It's true, crafting a breastfeeding wardrobe takes some money and thought. You will need to buy a few new pieces that can support your style and your breastfeeding journey. Luckily, there are many options for nursing tanks, tees, tops, and dresses, so you really have a lot of style options no matter your preference or lifestyle.
First, many of the clothes you already own can work for breastfeeding. Low cut tees and tanks can be pulled down to nurse or pump. The problem with these clothes is that they are not designed for breastfeeding. Pulling your shirt down doesn't fill some of the needs breastfeeding moms want, like discreet nursing in public, ease of access, and your own comfort.
The deal with breastfeeding design:
1 - Pull Up / Pull Down Method: Some breastfeeding tops have an outer layer that pulls up, while the under layer pulls down. You can also create this yourself, by wearing a low cut tank under a t-shirt or sweatshirt. Pull UP the t-shirt, and pull DOWN the tank underneath. You are able to breastfeed and still be covered.
2 - Unclip / Pull Down Method: Some breastfeeding tanks have a clip or other fastener at the shoulder. Undo the clip, and that side pulls down to nurse.
3 - Side Opening Method: Some breastfeeding tops have fabric that pulls away from the side, to reveal an opening underneath.
All of these designs work well! It really depends on your personal style, where you typically nurse, and your coverage preference. If you only nurse at home, you might be fine with the clip down tank. If you want to breastfeed a lot in public or in front of family, you might prefer the side opening design for something more discreet.
When I designed the Zip Nursing Tank, I wanted a cute top that worked for breastfeeding and filled my own wants/needs as a new breastfeeding mom.
- Comfort - no scratchy fabric!
- Ease to nurse
- Didn't look like a nursing tank!
- Could wash, dry, and still look new.
- All-in-one design so I could breastfeed in public without a cover.
YES, the Zip Nursing Tank checks all these boxes! Rather than pull the outer fabric up, and the under fabric down, I designed the tank with a zipper. The zipper is stylish and also functional! Pull the zipper down, and there is a soft privacy panel underneath. When you lift the panel, no one can even see that you are breastfeeding. I often had people walk right up to me while nursing and ask if the baby was sleeping!
You will discover so many ways that work for you on your breastfeeding journey! As you practice and get more comfortable, it will be easier to find clothes. When shopping, you'll see a style that's easy to nurse in and say, "That's a breastfeeding top!" Even if it is not. How to get your boob out easily will always be on your brain.
The last thing about maternity, breastfeeding and postpartum wardrobe is this - you are worth some investment in clothes that make pregnancy and nursing easier for you. Just like you buy so many things to prepare for the arrival of the baby, you should also be buying things for yourself. Clothes, creams, comfy pajamas, bath items, self-care times. New motherhood is short, but also long, and you should be as comfortable as you can through the journey.