Nursing moms’ wardrobe dilemmas

With a few adjustments, it is possible to have a stylish wardrobe while breastfeeding…

While pregnancy can be a challenging time for your wardrobe, at least there are lots of options out there to choose from. From loose fitting and flowing garments to stretchy pieces showing off your baby bump, there is a world of stylish choices for all budgets. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is a different matter. Access is the main focus here, and there are lots of cleverly designed tops available in nursing ranges allowing discreet access without too much fuss. While these ranges get top marks for function, they can often be lacking however, when it comes to feeling some bit stylish on a day to day basis.


Baby will need access on demand so the last thing you need is high closed necklines, long items to lift right up, or too many layers to get through. Casual wear like T-shirt style tops, hoodies and button-down-shoulder knit sweaters are generally what’s available and this could be your prescribed wardrobe for at least baby’s first six months unless you get creative and come up with a few other options.

The early days are the hardest also as you’re dressing a post baby body so unlikely to be going for anything too fitted, and might not fit into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe so a lot of that might be ruled out as an option too. Start with bras and strappy vests from nursing ranges, it won’t break the bank – you’ll find very affordable ranges in Penneys, New look and H&M.

For tops, those crossover concealed necklines in nursing tops work a treat and I find them nicely discreet. Buttons, zips and other closures are key otherwise and you can’t really consider anything else unless it has a low stretchy neckline.

Blouses can be a bit revealing depending on their neckline and how much you’re comfortable having on show but button up soft shirts are a good option as the neckline will be higher and you can keep the top buttons closed.Of course a loose and light wraparound scarf will solve any inhibitions if you’re worried about excess cleavage on show during feeding in public.

I strolled around the end of the sales to see if I’d get inspired and find any bargains – it’s not a time to look at investment pieces unless you’re talking coats, shoes and bags. Just like clothes you loved while pregnant, these will end up in the charity bag before long too. That was certainly my experience on my first child with a lot of the clothes I wore in the early months of feeding. I wore them so much I just got sick of them!

The longer you feed, the less of a big deal it is because baby feeds less and eventually you end up in almost your regular wardrobe over nursing bras or vests. I’m just five weeks into this feeding journey so only getting started on organising my nursing wardrobe but hope to keep it simple yet still stylish.

On my stroll around the shops I was happy to see lots of button up tops and zips on the mark down rails. One inspiring find I came across was a button up tunic and crop knit jumper set by Phase Eight at Brown Thomas. The tunic was a sleeveless longline shirt with a concealed opening and over it was a waist-length knit jumper which could be lifted without any fuss for access. This opened my eyes to lots of possibilities for the crop jumper and buttoned long top combo which would be a smart option over skinny jeans and boots.


Tips from fashionable breastfeeding moms…

Jennifer Copley, model Holman Lee Agency:

“NO Need to compromise on your usual style just because you are feeding, easy access is most important, especially now that I am feeding a 14 month old who wants it when he wants it. I live in nursing vest tops – Penneys do a great version for six euro – under a blouse. Nice skinny jeans and boots and you’re good to go.”

Sharon Kennedy, fashion blogger at Love 4 Fashion & Limerick Rose 2009:

“WHEN deciding what to wear each morning, the fact that I breastfeed my 10 month old son doesn’t limit me in any way. This might be surprising but the reason is simple – it’s what’s underneath that counts!

“Firstly, a good quality nursing bra is essential. Your bra needs to fit well and be comfortable. It’s no harm if it looks pretty too of course. Secondly, the one garment I don’t go without is a string/cami top. Wearing one of these underneath allows you to wear pretty much anything else on top.

“Looser tops are easier to feed in but you need to be careful that you don’t have too much material as it can be hard to keep it out of your little one’s face when nursing. Also, nothing too itchy or woolly as what you’re wearing needs to be comfortable for baby too.

“For dressy wear, I find jumpsuits are brilliant. You could choose one that has a wrap, zip or button front for easy breastfeeding access. For my son’s christening, I wore a jumpsuit but to be honest I fell in love with the jumpsuit ever before I thought about the practicality of breastfeeding in it. I am now back to work and a string top is still one of my staples and I pick whatever I want to wear around it. I wear a lot of dresses to work, a good tip for work dresses is to choose dresses that have a sweetheart neckline, preferably stretch fabric and ones with spaghetti straps, a zip, draped or wrap front.”

By Olivia O’Sullivan


This article appeared in the Limerick Post 21st January 2017