Picking out nursing clothes doesn't have to be hard or expensive. There are many ways to dress while breastfeeding that are cute, comfortable and nursing-friendly!
Having your first baby is so exciting, but there's also so much to figure out as a new mom. If you plan on breastfeeding, that in itself has a learning curve, not to mention making sense of your clothing choices so they'll work with you!
I definitely had the wrong idea about what kind of clothing could be used for breastfeeding before I had a baby. The good news is, it's really quite simple and there are only a few different options.
And don't stress! Make sure it's comfortable, makes you feel good and can somehow be moved to provide easy access to your breast. As you move further along your breastfeeding journey, you'll quickly figure out what works for you.
I'm going to run through some of the options and tips for creating your nursing wardrobe. Let me know if this is helpful!
Are Nursing CLothes NEcessary?
No, absolutely not! There are many ways to use "regular" clothing while breastfeeding, but of course, there are a lot of cute and handy clothing options that are specifically made for nursing mothers. It comes down to your choice. I'll lay out the pros and cons so you can make the best possible decision for yourself.
Tips for Nursing Clothes
- Look at what you already have! It's very possible that many of your pre-pregnancy tops will work for nursing. See my tips below for what "regular" clothing you can use for nursing.
- Consider leakage. It will happen. Darker and patterened clothing will disguise leaks a lot better than solid and light colored shirts.
- Keep it simple. If you do need to buy additional clothing for this nursing stage, don't go overboard. Pick a small number of items that you absolutely love and don't be afraid to wear them over and over again. Your breastfeeding days could be short, so best to make use of what you have and only buy whatever else you need.
- Consider the seasons before purchasing nursing clothes. For example, if your baby is due at the end of fall, make sure anything you buy will provide warmth for you as you go into the winter months.
Breasfeeding CLothes For Summer
In the beautiful summer months there will likely be many times when you'll find yourself needing to nurse outside at family gatherings, parks, etc. Having a few short sleeve, light and breathable nursing-friendly tops or dresses goes a long way here. If you prefer extra coverage while nursing, try to pick clothing that you can nurse in comfortably without using a nursing cover (like high-waisted leggings and a loose-fitting shirt or blouse). It can get really hot and stuffy for a little baby under a nursing cover in the sun.
I have a post on summer maternity clothes that are mostly nursing-friendly as well, so you can check that out for more summer specific ideas.
Breastfeeding CLothes for Winter
It's very unlikely that you'd ever need to breastfeed outside in freezing temperatures, but being prepared with warm nursing clothing is still necessary in the winter months. It can be as simple as having a few thick cardigans to go over your shirts to provide extra warmth, yet still maintain accessibility for feeding. Or you can buy thicker, warmer tops and sweaters with long sleeves. Keep in mind though, that if a sweater is really chunky, it can bunch up a lot when you pull it up for baby to nurse.
In the winter, an infinity scarf is a great option to accessorize, but will also provide warmth and extra coverage while nursing.
When to Buy Nursing Clothes
Most people do need to buy maternity clothes, so my philosophy is to buy maternity clothes that are also nursing-friendly. It's more bang for your buck and you really only have to shop once.
If you don't have nursing-friendly maternity clothes, make sure you have at least a few nursing-friendly options before the baby arrives, although it's better to have all the clothing that you need. No one wants to go shopping right after having a baby.
There are many bras out there specifically designed for nursing mamas, with clasps to easily open the front of the bra to allow access to the breast. I've used the Walmart brand seamless nursing bras (which are only $15 Canadian, a great price for a basic nursing bra!) and been completely satisfied with them, so you don't need to break the bank on nursing bras.
There are also wrap-style nursing bras that you just push to the side when it's time to feed.
I've also heard of people using basic bikini tops (like this) where the cups slide along the string, and they just slide the cup out of the way to breastfeed. Sounds pretty easy, but just consider that it's a halter style, so the string will be visible on the back of your neck.
Best Regular Clothes to Use as Nursing Clothes
Normal T-Shirts or Blouses (+ Tank Tops or High-Waisted Leggings)
Many regular t-shirts and blouses can be used for nursing, simply by lifting them up out of the way. If you don't want your belly exposed, either wear high-waisted leggings (which cover most of the belly!) or a stretchy tank top. When you pull your top layer up, you'll pull the top of the tank down along with your nursing bra cup. It works really well! With the double layer, you have maximum coverage.
You can also buy a nursing tank top, which will sit just below your chest as opposed to covering your chest, so you don't have to pull it down and out of the way.
In my opinion, these make the best nursing tops because they provide the most coverage, as your shirt covers the top of your breast as you feed.
BUtton-Down Shirts & Dresses
Any button-down shirt or dress works great for nursing. However, you won't have as much coverage as when using a regular shirt.
Wrap Dresses & Shirts
There are many beautiful styles of wrap shirts and dresses out there, they work decently well for nursing and look great on all body types. They are my least favorite, since they tend to be the tightest around the bust and a little more difficult to keep out the way (especially if you're small chested!)
Regular Clothes to Avoid While Nursing
It's very uncomfortable to nurse in a tight shirt that's been pulled up out of the way. Just don't do it. Also, as a first-time postpartum mom, you'll feel much more confident in a loose-fitting shirt. Your body will be different from pre-pregnancy and it will continue to change in the months to come!
Dresses without button or wrap closure
It's just impossible to access the breasts if there isn't a button or wrap closure to the dress.
Normal bras are uncomfortable and very difficult to use while nursing. I truly believe you can get by without buying any "nursing friendly" clothing but I do recommend getting a good nursing bra. They are worth it.
Best Affordable Nursing Clothes
If you are looking for affordable, comfortable and cute clothes made specifically for nursing, I have a couple of suggestions (this post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own):
- Pink Blush - My favorite nursing dresses. Decently priced, high quality and they have regular sales! Many of their shirts and dresses are both maternity and nursing friendly and the styles are beautiful!
- Old Navy - Always decent quality and good prices.
- ThredUp - An online consignment store with great deals and high-quality clothing. They have thousands of maternity and nursing clothes!
More Nursing Tips
- Reusable Nursing Pads - Especially in the early months, you may experience some leakage from your breasts as they adjust to this new experience. Wearing nursing pads will help prevent leaks onto your clothing.
- Milk Saver - While nursing at home, you can actually catch the leaking milk in this simple, yet genius invention. When you're done nursing, just pour it into a breast milk freezer bag and pop it in the freezer to save for later!
- Nursing Covers - A handy addition to your diaper bag. If you're wearing a wrap or button up shirt, these are great for providing extra coverage. You could also just use a light muslin blanket draped over your shoulder and baby as well.
- Nipple Cream - You may need some special cream to soothe and heal cracked nipples, which can happen in early breastfeeding.
Was this helpful? I'd love to hear your nursing clothing tips and strategies in the comments below!