Some women run out and buy an entire nursing wardrobe, while others make do with the clothing they've already got. But you don't need to break the bank with a whole new closet of clothes made specifically for breastfeeding. Try these tips for creating a nursing-friendly wardrobe with a few new pieces and the stuff you probably already have lying around.
The Layered Look
Pair a nursing camisole or tank top with a button-down shirt, cardigan sweater, jacket, tie-front top, or shrug sweater. You can buy a selection of inexpensive nursing tanks or camis in different colors and just rotate the sweaters and shirts you've already got over them. The nursing cami will make it easy to breastfeed discreetly, and you can wear some of your prepregnancy tops with them, even if you can't button them all the way anymore.
When it comes to nursing-friendly clothing, think easy access and coverage. Many moms report that it's not the fear of accidentally flashing a bit of nipple that makes them reluctant to nurse in public, but the prospect of showing the world their stomachs. Also, exposing your belly on a chilly day can be really uncomfortable. Shirts that are large and loose have enough material to keep your stomach covered while you're nursing.
Shirts with Buttons
If you wear a button-down shirt without a tank or camisole underneath it, you can either unbutton from the top down and pull your breast out the top, or unbutton from the bottom up. If you unbutton from the bottom up, it's easier to keep your breast from showing, but you may flash some tummy skin. If you button from the top down, you will eventually become good at keeping a hand over your breast until the baby's head blocks it from view.
If you think you'll be attending any dress-up events with a nursing baby (or if you'll need to pump breastmilk while dressed up), it's worthwhile to spend some of your nursing wardrobe budget on at least one breastfeeding-friendly dress. Many dresses are impossible to nurse or pump in without lifting the whole thing over your head, or unzipping it and taking the top down completely. A classic little black dress with nursing slits can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, and layered with a wrap or cardigan for colder weather.
Do It Yourself
Some moms make their own nursing-friendly tops by cutting slits in camisoles or tank tops, then wearing something over the top of them. When it's time to nurse you can lift one layer and pull your breast through the slit. The bottom tank will keep you mostly covered up.
Give Nursing Clothes a Chance
Nursing wear is not what it used to be. Forward-thinking designers of maternity and nursing clothes are creating attractive, versatile styles you might not want to part with once you're done breastfeeding. While you can make do without nursing clothing if you shop carefully, select nursing-friendly tops from your current wardrobe, and maybe even take a pair of scissors to some nonbreastfeeding clothes, it's probably worth it to own a few fabulous nursing tops from a great designer, especially since the overall cut is likely to be flattering for your new-mom shape.