You Don’t Need a Nursing Wardrobe to Nurse Comfortably

I bought several nursing bras before I had my first baby. However, I hated the fact that I had to expose my whole midsection to nurse. It made me wholly dependent on using a nursing cover, and the final throes of an Arizona summer made that a stifling proposition. Yet the nursing tops and shirts I had seen were not cute and very expensive.

Nursing in the hop room at Deep Ellum Brewery in Dallas. This is an example of just pulling down your neckline for easy access.

It wasn’t until I began attending a local new moms group that I discovered how moms make nursing work with regular clothes. No special nursing tops, no expensive wardrobe. Here are the secrets to nursing in everyday clothing.

*Boob access. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not really something you would normally consider when choosing an outfit for the day. You want tops that have a criss-cross bust with some give, a deep-V-neck with stretch, or that are easy to get up over one side. For dresses, you are more limited to top-access, unless you want to nurse with your dress all the way up. (But I’ve seen it done!) Button, snap, or zip fronts are good, too.

*Under layer. For me, this was the real secret to comfortable, uncovered nursing in public. I used to be (ha) small-chested, so I bought nursing tanks with a shelf bra and wore them under everything. Then, I discovered I could do the same thing with normal shelf bras/camisoles, and they are cheaper. The necklines do give out after about a year, but the $10 lower price made up for it. When I am going to be somewhere not as nursing friendly and still want to nurse coverless, I make sure my cami matches my shirt color. For those who are really attached to their nursing bras, you can achieve the same result with special nursing camis like Modest Middles that have the top cut extra low for boob access to your favorite bra. Some moms mimic this effect using men’s undershirt tanks and making a deep slit down the middle for easy access.

This is an example of flipping your shirt up and pulling down a shelf-bra camisole to nurse. From the front, no one can see any skin, much less anything else.

*Dark colors.Dark colors don’t show wetness from baby spitting up, boob leakage, or dribbles. When I want to look more put-together, I do usually wear dark colors so I don’t have to feel self-conscious about weird wet patches or stains from nursing.

*Cardigans and scarves. These are both awesome accessories for the nursing mom. Again, I don’t wear them all the time, but they give you a little extra fabric so if you get burped on, you can throw on your cardi. If baby is pulling off a lot and it’s making you a little sweaty, you can pull a piece of scarf over so your nipple isn’t visible and baby can take her time. I will also pull some scarf over baby’s head if she falls asleep so the light doesn’t wake her once she’s done.

If you are working up to nursing uncovered, nurse seated in front of a mirror sometime. It really just looks like you are holding a sleeping baby. I’ve learned that most of the time, only you can see anything anyway, so remember that if you feel exposed. There’s nothing wrong with using a cover. But nursing covered doesn’t go nearly as far towards helping nursing in public to be perceived as normal. And in a world where nursing as viewed as normal, wearing a cover is your choice—not a choice informed by askew glances, rude comments, or someone asking you to cover up.

What are your secrets for comfortable nursing?

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