If you’re planning on breastfeeding, there are a few essentials you’ll want to have on hand— lanolin nipple cream, a nursing pillow, nursing pads, breastmilk storage bags, a nursing cover, a breastmilk pump and accessories are just some of the staples that could make your journey easier.
Certain clothing items can also make breastfeeding more seamless, especially when you finally venture outside your home with your little one. But with so many different garments geared toward nursing moms on the market today, it’s hard to know which are worth the investment.
Here’s everything you need to know about what to wear when breastfeeding.
Types of Breastfeeding Clothing
There are lots of clothes catering to nursing moms on the market today. Here are some of the options:
1. Nursing Bras
Similar in appearance to sports bras, nursing bras typically have straps that are easily clipped and unclipped, making it easy to provide one breast at a time to your little one. They come in a variety of fabrics, and some are extra thick, which is great for protecting tender breasts and sore nipples or absorbing leakage.
2. Nursing Tanks
Like nursing bras, nursing tanks have special straps that can be clipped and unclipped. Many are extra stretchy and include built-in support, making a bra unnecessary. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, these are great staple items that can be worn on their own, with a cardigan or blazer, or under a sweater.
3. Nursing Tops
Tops specifically made for breastfeeding tend to have cross-over necklines or layers that can be lifted to enable easy access to your breasts without sacrificing coverage. These are particularly great for women who prefer discretion while feeding their little one.
Best Clothes To Wear for Breastfeeding
Aside from comfort, the single most important criteria for breastfeeding clothes is probably accessibility. Whether you’re at home or out and about, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble by wearing clothing that makes it easy for your little one to latch.
Here are some of our top tips for selecting the best clothes for breastfeeding.
Tips for Picking Clothing When Breastfeeding
Follow these simple tips when choosing nursing clothing for breastfeeding:
1. Borrowed is Best
Since clothes specifically made for nursing mamas can get expensive— and you’re likely to use them for a relatively short amount of time, you’ll save yourself some money if you can borrow from family members or friends. Ask around before heading to the stores. Chances are good someone in your life is eager to clear out some closet space and help a friend in need.
Before you hit the store, scope out your closet for breastfeeding-friendly clothing. You might be surprised at just how many tops and dresses you already have that will work well for nursing. Tops with zippers are a nursing mother’s dream since they enable easy access and can also be very discreet for those who prefer to keep covered. Button-downs are a close second for similar reasons. Also conducive to breastfeeding? V-neck tops and dresses in stretchy fabrics—you can simply pull the neckline aside to latch your little.
3. Opt for Multi-Use Clothing
If you do decide to purchase some breastfeeding staples, look for those that do double duty: Many companies sell maternity tops that also work as nursing tunics. Unlike traditional maternity clothing you’re likely to donate or tuck away the minute your little one arrives, these pieces will remain useful well into the postpartum period.
4. Dark Over Light
Leaks happen—even when you’re wearing layers. Whereas light colors show everything, dark colors can help mask them. Hedge your bets by opting for black, navy and dark gray tops.
5. Stretch is Best
Throughout your breastfeeding journey, your breasts will likely change in size—they’ll be fuller before a feed than they will be after, for example. Keep it comfortable by opting for stretchy fabrics that will expand and shrink with your breasts.
6. Consider the Season
When shopping for breastfeeding clothing, make sure you consider the time of year you’ll be wearing them. Light, breathable cotton tops and dresses can be most comfortable in the summer, while thicker fabrics are best for the colder months. Just keep in mind that having a little one pressed against you can make you feel hotter than usual, so it may be advisable to avoid extra heavy fabrics like wool.
Breastfeeding Clothing FAQs
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about breastfeeding clothes:
1. What should you not wear while breastfeeding?
Avoid turtlenecks and high-necks, tops and dresses that zipper or button in the back instead of the front, fitted tops in non-stretchy fabrics, and hoodies without zippers. These items all require some level of disrobing in order to provide your baby access to your breasts, which can be incredibly inconvenient when you have a hungry baby on your hands. Save yourself the headache and stress of managing a “hangry” baby by opting for tops that enable quick and easy access.
2. Should I wear a bra while breastfeeding?
This is a matter of personal preference. For many nursing mothers, a bra can provide added support and a welcome second layer during leaking—especially when their milk first comes in. If you do opt to wear a bra, make sure it isn’t too tight—if it puts too much pressure on your breasts, your bra may contribute to plugged ducts, which can be quite painful. In the early months, it’s also best to avoid bras with underwire, which can contribute to blocked ducts and even the painful infection, mastitis.
3. Where can I find cheap breastfeeding clothes?
If you don’t have anything in your own closet that can double as nursing clothing, check in with family members and friends who nursed their little ones and may have held onto some of their clothes. You can also check out secondhand stores and online marketplaces that sell gently used nursing clothes.
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Next up—read about the four foods to avoid while breastfeeding, according to a pre + postnatal registered dietician.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.