One of the unexpected side effects of breastfeeding is the impact it has on your personal style. The top question about an outfit has a tendency to shift from, “Do I love the color and fit?” to “How practical would it be to breastfeed while wearing this?” As you prepare your summer wardrobe, here are some tried and true options to feel comfortable and accessible to your baby.
Nursing Tops and Swimsuits
There are many options for camis, shirts, and even swimsuits and offer discreet clasps or slits for breastfeeding access. Camis and tank tops are often fairly inexpensive. Some other tops can be pricier, depending on which store you shop at. The benefit is that they often provide fuller coverage. If it’s in your budget, a few specially designed nursing tops are handy, especially if you’re shy about nursing in public.
Wrap Shirts, V-Necks, Tunics
Finding the right style of shirt (or dress) are magic for breastfeeding. Clothes that are meant to be worn oversized or are made of soft, loose fabric are easy to tug into place for a nursing session. Think about whether you prefer accessing your breast from the top, which exposes your chest but usually leaves your belly covered, or if lifting your shirt is more comfortable. Wrap tops, V-necks or strappy tops, and button-downs are easiest for top-down access. Flowy tunics, peasant tops, and other flowy shirts are good lift-up options. For lift-up, consider the fabric. Babies who dislike nursing covers may also protest billowy fabrics that slip over them.
Surprisingly, tops aren’t the only breastfeeding wardrobe essential to consider. If you feel nothing but proud of your postpartum body, that is fantastic! This point may not apply as much to you. Many new moms have mixed feelings, including simultaneous pride and dissatisfaction, about their postpartum appearance. You may feel comfortable lifting your shirt to nurse in some situations but not others, or wish to minimize belly exposure as you continue to recover.
High-waisted, retro-style shorts, pants, or skirts can increase skin coverage while you’re nursing. At the beach, a sarong tied at or slightly above your waist may be comfortable.
Lightweight Nursing Cover Options
Some breastfeeding parents and babies prefer nursing with a cover, either for modesty or to limit distractions. Heavier covers that worked well in winter may be stifling in summer heat. And no one enjoys covering up with a chlorine-reeking pool towel.
Your right to nurse without a cover is protected in almost all 50 states, usually in both public and private establishments (meaning you can’t legally be asked to leave a restaurant because you’re nursing, for example). A cover option can still come in handy as a way to offer a little bit of shade.
A light, breathable cotton cardigan can be a summer lifesaver. Light scarves can also be both fashionable and easy to repurpose into a cover if needed. Try a few ways of draping or tying it around your body before hitting the beach–ocean breezes can catch a wispy scarf that isn’t secured well. If all else fails, flaring out the brim of your baby’s wide-brimmed summer hat can give you an inch or two of extra coverage!