I Want To Keep My Clothes On!
This is the exclamation I shout inside my head every few hours as I strip down in the living room. It is the desire of a first-time postpartum woman trying to adjust to a new version of herself while simultaneously feeling put together in the weeks after delivery. I was lacking the wardrobe staples I needed to make breastfeeding simpler.
Breastfeeding Was Supposed To Be Natural
It was always our plan to breastfeed. We had made decisions and purchases with that plan in mind. With tips from friends, nursing bras, a nursing cover, and our breastfeeding class notes, I felt as prepared as I could be, until…our baby didn’t latch.
In all of the preparation of reading, talking to people, and going to a breastfeeding class, no one talked about our options if Baby didn’t latch.
I heard about nursing on both breasts or nursing one breast while pumping the other. I heard about nursing often to maintain supply and block nursing to manage supply, but I didn’t hear about what to do if Baby didn’t latch.
My husband and I welcomed our baby into the world under the impression that either Baby would latch or we had to formula feed. While we believe fed is best, we really wanted breastfeeding to work for our family.
Struggling to Breastfeed
It’s 3:00 a.m. Our baby is a week old. Baby is trying to latch. Baby and I are both crying.
I say to my husband, “I’m calling Lactation again in the morning.”
We visit our lactation consultants for the second time in five days. In the lactation office, our baby latches with limited success while 6 adult arms are helping position us and 3 pillows stuff me and Baby in tightly.
It’s 10 AM. Our baby is 2-weeks old. Coincidentally, someone small has been screaming in our home for the last 2-weeks. Baby has been gaining weight so the doctor isn’t worried, but Baby is constantly hungry. My husband is ready to start on formula, and I’m irrationally guilt-ridden for struggling to breastfeed.
I say, “I’m calling Lactation to see if I can pump and bottle feed.”
For some reason, my postpartum brain needs permission to feed my baby expressed breast milk.
“Lactation says yes, of course!” I say as I get off the phone. My husband is already in position to bottle feed our 2-week-old. Our little one happily takes the bottle, and I shed tears of relief.
Over the next 4-weeks, we continued to try to breastfeed.
I’m eleven weeks postpartum when I return to work and quickly realize how unprepared I am to exclusively pump. I don’t have work-appropriate wardrobe staples that offer easy access for pumping. I try to manipulate the clothes I’ve pieced together so I can stay dressed while pumping. It takes an annoying minute or two to manipulate my outfit for pumping.
Sure, I’m in a private place when I pump, and I don’t regret a second of the time I spend pumping to provide breast milk for our baby, but…
I Want To Keep My Clothes On!
I’m 12-weeks postpartum when I announce, “I’m buying whatever I need to so I don’t have to constantly undress.”
It is an outburst of frustration at the fact that I take off my top every few hours to pump. My husband is seemingly more confused as to why I hadn’t already bought more clothes for nursing/ pumping.
I’m 16-weeks postpartum when I (finally) feel I have a workable wardrobe that is practical, comfortable, and presentable.
Start here for practical, comfortable, and presentable nursing/pumping wardrobe staples to help you keep your clothes on in the transition of motherhood:
- Hands-free pumping and nursing bra (I bought 1 to see if I’d like it. A week later I ordered 2 more!)
- Hands-free clip pumping bra (for pumping when wearing a nursing camisole) (I bought 1.)
- Nursing camisoles (nude, black, and white)
- Casual dresses with easy nursing access (I have 3 dresses that are dressy-casual. Cotton nursing dresses are perfect for my lifestyle and can be worn with a cardigan and scarf through the winter or on their own with a cute necklace in the spring.)
- Nursing Sweater Tunics (I have a couple of nursing sweater tunics since I’m usually wearing a tunic sweater and leggings in the winter.)
- Casual long-sleeve nursing t-shirts (I have a couple of these for under a cardigan or vest through the winter or on their own in the spring.)
New moms, if you are choosing to breastfeed, invest in quality clothes that are made for nursing/ pumping, and give yourself grace.
If your plan was breastfeeding and you end up exclusively pumping or you choose to exclusively pump from the start, remember: Exclusively pumping is breastfeeding.
What wardrobe staples did you find helpful for breastfeeding or pumping? Check out these Tips for Breastfeeding Success and this mom’s Survival Guide for Pumping at Work. Share your breastfeeding or pumping tips and tricks in the comments!