Breastfeeding Wardrobe Essentials

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

A comfortable and functional wardrobe is important for a breastfeeding mother. Soft cotton and stretchy fabrics will be your best companions and you will avoid anything too tight in order to avoid possibly causing clogged milk ducts. You’ll be surprised to learn that you may not even have to buy any new “nursing” clothing at all, except for maybe just one particular item.

As far as nursing tops go, the simple nursing tank tops are great for layering under regular tee shirts or wearing with an open cardigan or flowy sweater. Some basic cotton nursing tees can also be very useful. Any regular low-cut shirt, a v-neck or a criss cross neckline will work just as well. You can avoid the fancy nursing blouses since they are not always comfortable and can be quite confusing.

Image of H&M “nursing tank top”

In the warmer months, wearing lightweight cotton nursing dresses is a great way to stay cool and breastfeed with ease. Again, the low-cut v-necks are most convenient for breastfeeding (and they don’t necessarily have to be labeled “nursing dresses”). Buying black or darker colored dresses can be especially flattering, and they tend to hide any spilled breast milk rather well. Again, cotton is a good natural material and usually does well in the laundry.

And now for everyone’s favorite part… what to wear on the bottom? You guessed it: stretch-cotton leggings! I actually wore my maternity leggings long after delivery, not because I still had a huge belly, but because of the high-waisted feature. High-waisted bottoms keep the belly covered while mamma lifts any loose-fitting shirt for easy nursing access.

The most important part of a breastfeeding wardrobe can also be the most difficult to find. Nursing bras are essential and may be the one and only really necessary “nursing” item to purchase. Wireless nursing bras are ideal because wires, like tight-fitting bras or clothing, can constrict milk flow and may possibly lead to clogged milk ducts. The stretchy nursing sleep bras that resemble sports bras and cross in the front with a deep “v” are particularly helpful while pumping or nursing frequently during the first few months.

A strapless pumping bra is also a must-have if you plan on pumping often, unless you are able to invest in a wearable breast pump.

The same guidelines apply for swimsuits: avoid underwires and be sure to get a top that fits well. You want to be sure you can easily whip a boob out while keeping the other one covered as you nurse your child. The crop tops, bralettes or halter style swimsuits make life easier for a breastfeeding mother. Underwires are are too restrictive when it comes to feeding your baby.

Regarding sleepwear, nursing nightgowns are fine in the early days postpartum, but aren’t totally necessary. A nursing sleep bra under a robe or open sweater paired with high-waisted leggings may work even better to allow easy access for skin-to-skin contact and frequent nursing overnight with a newborn. The bras help to keep mamma and baby dry if breasts tend to leak because breast pads can easily fit inside. As time goes on, any low-cut stretchy cotton tee shirt works just fine and can be pulled down easily to nurse throughout the night.

Image of Medela “nursing sleep bra”

The most drastic wardrobe change since becoming a mother will likely be the footwear collection. Wearing high heels might become a thing of the past and living in sneakers will probably feel just right. It is important to have good foot support in order to keep balance and maintain comfort while handling a newborn. Slippers will also get plenty of use while at home!

And finally, something you may not have considered: hair styles. I decided to keep my long hair versus cutting it all off so that it can easily be braided or put in a bun. Your newborn will thank you for keeping your hair out of his face as he tries to learn to breastfeed. Then before you know it, your baby will be pulling and tugging on your hair during every nursing session, so be sure to keep it out of reach!

So, what are some key “takeaways” regarding a breastfeeding wardrobe?

If your budget allows for only one piece of “nursing” apparel, opt for a quality, wireless nursing bra. A nursing sleep bra may be even more essential during the newborn stage. Nursing tees, tanks and dresses can be useful, but regular, low-cut tops allow for easy breastfeeding as well. Don’t rush to pack away your high-waisted maternity bottoms so that you can keep your midriff covered as you lift your shirt to nurse your child. And lastly, take care of your feet by prioritizing comfort and safety over fashion for now while handling your baby.


Image of “Nursing tank top”:

Image of “Nursing sleep bra”:

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