When I was pregnant and having a freak out about finding appropriate breastfeeding clothes, I received a lot of advice from other mums about what I should wear. The consensus seemed to be nursing tops and leggings or some kind of a soft pant situation.
Being the massive rule follower I am, I dutifully took myself off to the shops to find leggings and/or soft pants for the impending arrival of my girl. I tried, I really did but every time I put on a pair of leggings a little voice inside my head piped up and said ‘You HATE wearing leggings unless you’re at the gym. Breastfeeding is not going to be any different. You only wear dresses you giant moron… get more breastfeeding dresses!!!’ Nevertheless, I persisted.
Wearing: Legoe Dress (they no longer stock this exact one but here’s a similar one), Ambra fleece lined tights, Ecco boots, Origami Shoulder Cosy (pattern available through Crochet Coach). Breast feeding access via a double layer you lift up and the neckline underneath is deep enough to boob access.
If you’ve been reading Smaggle for a while, you’ll know that pants are not my bag. In recent years I’ve come to realise that separates, in general, look like garbage on me – I don’t even really wear skirts anymore. I’m a dresses gal – they’re what I feel the most comfortable in. My extra long torso is to blame, I’m like a human Dachshund – all my height is in my upper body so separates always sit strangely on me because they’re not made for people with mutant midsections. The breastfeeding women of yesteryear insisted that I needed tights and nursing singlets as my main source of breastfeeding clothes and as I had never breastfed before, I figured I should listen. I had an inkling I wouldn’t get any wear out of these items but I obediently bought a pair of soft shorts (because Aussie summer) and a breastfeeding singlet from Kmart literally hours before my waters broke last year to supplement the three or four dresses I had that would work for breastfeeding.
I’ve now been breastfeeding for eight months and I haven’t worn the breastfeeding singlet/shorts combo once. I’ve just rotated through my capsule breastfeeding dress collection. I’m so glad I trusted my instincts otherwise I’d have a wardrobe full of breastfeeding clothes I got precisely zero wear out of.
Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different so you’ll need to figure out what works for you. I’m quite happy to pull down the front of a super stretchy dress to breastfeed but that doesn’t work for everyone. Also my child is extremely impatient and wouldn’t wait for me to unbutton anything to feed her so I went with a flop-out-the-top vibe from very early on. I have a few things with buttons now she’s a bit older and isn’t so desperate for her milk. I’ve also had lots of people recommend wearing wrap dresses but as practical as they are, they just don’t suit me. Same with button-down shirts – I’ve never worn a button-down shirt in my life because they’re super unflattering on me with my footballer’s shoulders. Being a new mum is the worst time to wear clothes you feel self-conscious in. My advice? Follow your instincts and buy the absolute minimum you can get away with until you’re actually breastfeeding. My body changed overnight when I gave birth – my belly disappeared immediately and my boobs grew over the next few days. General rule of thumb – only buy stretch stuff before you give birth and can figure out what your body is doing. I also didn’t get ‘proper’ breastfeeding bras until about the 2-month mark. I just wore breastfeeding crop top style bras with no cups that kind of grew with my boobs until I had a solid size I could get fitted for.
Wearing: Black linen jumpsuit from Dotti, clogs from Funkis. Breast-feeding access through middle buttons. Hot tip: Always make sure the buttons are real and not decorative especially if you’re buying online. I’ve fallen for that many times.
It’s also a huge struggle to find anything stylish you can breastfeed in. Most nursing clothing is also designed to be worn while you’re pregnant and while I can understand the theory behind these designs, it actually makes no sense because pregnant and breastfeeding bodies are totally different. Aside from the odd body con dress that stretches, most maternity clothing looks like a deflated balloon once you’ve given birth. So not cute.
Here are a few places I’ve found that have not hideous breastfeeding clothes that also aren’t unbelievably expensive. Added bonus is that these are funky enough that you can wear them when you stop breastfeeding. Bonza.
This store has a massive range and it’s also super affordable. You can also find some items in natural fibres if you’re not a massive fan of synthetics.
This is my all time favourite brand – I have two of their Portugal tank dresses and I’m rarely seen not wearing one of them these days. They have easy access side zips so you can breastfeed. I love how these dresses don’t have that frumpy maternity look about them. They just look like regular dresses and I’ll almost certainly keep wearing them after I’m done breastfeeding. I just bought a strapless body con dress and a flare sleeve dress from there too.
This is the store where I originally discovered Legoe clothing – it’s so well curated. Full of stylish, simple pieces and almost everything in the store is made of 100% cotton.
Wearing: Legoe Portugal dress in Navy (I hemmed mine!), Nomad shawl (pattern available at Crochet Coach), clogs from Funkis. Breastfeeding access through side zippers. Hot tip: These are a great layering item in winter. I’ve been wearing them over tights with a warm cardigan and I can unzip to feed and stay warm at the same time
Full of simple basics, this is a great shop for staple items like plain coloured cotton tank dresses.
Excellent separates (for those people who can actually wear them!) that are classic and funky.
This shop is very similar to Queen Bee – stylish dresses in natural fibres that don’t look too much like specialty breastfeeding dresses. They have the type of stuff you can keep on wearing after breastfeeding.
For breastfeeding-friendly nightwear.
Wearing: Marimekko dress, Funkis clogs. Breastfeeding access via middle zip. This dress was the find of the century – I tried it on when I was 6 months pregnant but didn’t want to buy it because I didn’t know what my body was going to do and when I saw it on sale a few months ago I snapped it up intending to wear it later in the year when I stopped breast-feeding and I totally forgot it had a front zipper. Bonza.
Non-Maternity Stores Where I’ve Found Some Good Stuff
Here are a few stores I’ve been into recently that randomly have some great accidental breastfeeding clothes. Dotti have some great zip and button front dresses, Gorman’s signature loose fit can easily accommodate feeding a bub and Bohemian Traders have some shirt dresses that are great for on the go feeds.
Wearing: Linen and wool blend jumpsuit from Dotti (I’ve been having a real postpartum jumpsuit thing happening), clogs from Funkis. Breastfeeding access via dropping one strap. I thought these buttons were functional when I ordered it online but alas, they’re not. Thankfully I can slide the straps down though.
The outfits pictured in this post are pretty much what I’ve been living in since giving birth. I only bought a few things and only bought things I knew I’d wear after I’m done with breastfeeding. I add tights/thermals/cardigans/scarves and boots for chilly days. Boom.