Nursing Wear & Associated Gear

One of the best suggestions I received while pregnant was to stop spending so much time preparing for the birth and to start thinking about what to do with the baby once he/she arrives. If you’re planning to breastfeed, you’ll also need to think about some associated logistics. Many new mamas haven’t considered the need for clothing that leaves your breasts accessible, and it can be daunting to deal with these kinds of details while also handling a newborn!

Tips & Suggestions for Newly Nursing Mamas:

  1. Get someone who knows what she is doing to help you with bra fitting! It’s very difficult to predict your breast size before your milk comes in; you will almost certainly be surprised.  Many upscale lingerie stores will have someone on staff who can do this. Also, see: some great info (in general) about bra sizing and Bravado’s guide to sizing during pregnancy & postpartum.
  2. Did you know that Nordstroms will convert any bra into a nursing bra for $10? It doesn’t even need to be one you bought there.
  3. One of the highlights of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is that insurance companies are now required to cover breast pumps & parts 100% with no deductible.  Many of the companies are evasive about this if you call them up; you may be better off working with a medical supply company who bills insurance to find out if you are eligible. See this wonderful blog post about how one mama with an Aetna plan navigated the bureaucracy.
  4. Once your milk comes in, you may find that you need breast pads to sop up any leaks – particularly in the first few weeks/months. There are disposable options aplenty, but many women find that reusable nursing pads are easier, more comfortable and allow the breast to “breathe” a bit more. Wool breast pads (which are comfier than they sound, I promise) are very popular; here are instructions & a pattern for making your own, or you can buy plain old cotton reusable nursing pads on Etsy, Hyena Cart or other similar sites.

What to Wear While Breastfeeding

You will quickly find that your regular wardrobe is not super convenient for breastfeeding.  If you’d rather not stretch out the necklines of your favorite shirts or expose your belly to the cold air, you may want to invest in some nursing gear. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. You can wear nursing tanks under your regular shirts. These serve as nursing bras and provide belly coverage so you can lift your regular shirts up without baring all.
    1. Bravado is the most popular brand; their tanks are sturdy, flattering, comfortable and will last for quite a while. They are also pricey.
    2. Target sells nursing tanks that are much more reasonably priced but not nearly as durable
    3. Other brands to consider include the La Leche League tanks and Glamour Mom
    4. Some mamas just cut holes in a cheapo fitted tank and wear it with a nursing bra under their regular clothes as a kind of make shift nursing tank
    5. Lastly, you can use the Undercover mama to make any nursing bra into a nursing tank
  1. You can also wear nursing tops over a nursing bra. Some places to buy nursing clothing include:
    1. Milk Nursingwear
    2. Motherwear
    3. Expressiva
    4. Motherhood Maternity & other maternity stores
    5. Gap & Old Navy (online) – the “maternity” section has a small selection of relatively inexpensive nursing tops

Just for Fun

Getting started with breastfeeding is hard! Don’t forget to reach out to La Leche League or a lactation consultant (or two!) if you need help. Keeping a sense of humor never hurts, either. Check out 10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons to Breastfeed

If you have other general tips or  suggestions for where to find nursing clothing, please leave a comment!

Thoughts? Add your comments here. 

  • I found myself wearing regular tanks with built in shelf bra and spaghetti straps under a tee to be the easiest while breastfeeding. Just loosen the straps so you can easily pull the neckline down and the tee shirt up. I felt more comfortable and no need to spend money on something you’ll only wear while breastfeeding (even if it turns out you spend a much larger portion of your life breastfeeding than you plan!).

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    Camille Freeman (she/her)

    Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I faciliate the Monday Mentoring community of practice and offer continuing eduation programs for highly trained herbalists & nutritionists. I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating.