Chasing Davies: Style for the Nursing Mama from an Pro

January 18, 2012

Style for the Nursing Mama from an Pro

Huge thanks to Amy for guest posting for me today.  This is a super big topic for me, as I'm finding it harder to get dressed for easy breastfeeding access than I did when I was pregnant!

When Meggy asked me to write a guest post for her a few weeks ago, this was the first
topic that came to mind. Because nothing has challenged my wardrobe – and my sense
of personal style – like breastfeeding. I hope these ideas can help other new mamas who
are as perplexed as I was!

When The Pup was born two years ago, I was so excited to get back to
dressing “normally.” I thought the biggest challenge to my closet would be pregnancy. I
was completely, totally, ridiculously wrong. A baby belly simply doesn’t compare to the
need for 24/7 boob access. We breastfed for a year, and my closet changed dramatically.
Here are some examples of my breastfeeding style – all of these photos were successful
breastfeeding outfits, too.

Before The Pup, even during pregnancy, I was a dress girl. Dresses for day, dresses for
night, in fabrics from chambray to cashmere. I owned only a single buttondown shirt,
as finding ones that fit on my curvy frame can be difficult. I was more comfortable
in skirts than pants. I had a whole collection of cashmere sweaters that I wore almost
daily and dry-cleaned meticulously. I wore heels every day and didn’t think a thing of it.
Suddenly I was holding this tiny, messy, wriggly, adorable, and needy ball of flesh – and
my whole wardrobe seemed like it was laughing at me.

Dresses? I couldn’t breastfeed in them without lifting the whole darn skirt up.
Cashmere? Yeah, not a match for a reflux baby and constant spit-up. Skirts above my
knees? I was flashing the world when I breastfed, because crossed legs don’t really work
with a wriggling infant. And I could hardly run to check on his cries in heeled pumps.
Everything changed. Especially in those first three months, when I’m pretty sure The
Pup was latched 20 hours a day, I needed some clothes that worked with my very new

These formulas saved my sanity and my style (on my blog, I call them “mom-ulas,” with
the idea that every mom can make a stylish outfit with just a few guidelines). But first,
the basics.

Breastfeeding Basics
Nursing tanks. Buy a half dozen in different colors. Wear them under
everything. I loved them, even under tees, because they keep your stomach
covered when you hike up your shirt to nurse. I’m all for breastfeeding in public
– but I also felt more comfortable when I was showing less skin.
Layer tanks and tees. Not only will you keep your stomach warm, but the extra
layers of fabric are also useful for hiding one of the hardest sartorial challenges of
breastfeeding – the nursing pad.
Scarves. The Pup would never, ever, ever eat under a nursing cover. He’d squall
and kick until I took it off. So, I learned how to artfully drape a scarf around us
while we latched, then drape it over everything but his head. Plus, a scarf can
hide a multitude of sins – from a spit-up stain to a still-jiggly post-partum tummy.
• Belts. At first, you won’t want to, and that’s okay. The idea of a constricting
piece of leather around your stomach will seem hideous. As time goes on, you’ll
love the idea that you can fake your waistline. A belt will help you bring back
some pre-baby style juju.
• Patterns. A great pattern – or even better, a mix of patterns! – hides everything
from baby stains to a pooch. Mix freely.
• Washable, breathable, natural fabrics. I have switched over to almost all cotton.
I still wear cashmere and other woold (and hand-wash instead of going to the dry
cleaner), but almost all synthetic fabrics are gone from my closet. They don’t
wash well, and they were scratchy on the baby’s skin.

The Breastfeeding Mom-ulas

The Open Cardigan and Jeans
Breastfeeding - Cozy Cardigan
Breastfeeding - Cozy Cardigan by bibliomomia featuring slip on shoes

All hail the open cardigan! They’re the answer to a breastfeeding mama’s dreams, and
they’re everywhere. Find one with a lot of draping in the front, and it will be easy to use
as a nursing cover as well. Also invest in a pair of high-waisted jeans that fit you NOW,
not in some size you hope for in the future. Yes, seriously – they’re everywhere right
now, and they do wonders for a post-partum stomach (I own three pairs of the BDGs
in this collage). Finally, don’t be afraid of some serious layering – here, the nursing
tank under the striped tee adds some skin coverage, while the cardigan in a different
print adds some warmth and style. Finally, don’t be afraid of finding some fantastically
comfortable flats. I’ve worn my moccasins more than any other shoes since The Pup’s
birth, and I think they’re the perfect mix of style and trend and comfort for casual outfits.

The Buttondown and Maxi
Breastfeeding - Rugged Buttondown
Breastfeeding - Rugged Buttondown by bibliomomia featuring a maxi skirt

Giving up dresses was very hard for me – until I rediscovered the maxi skirt. You get
all of the femininity and style of a pretty dress with the coverage of pants, and they’re
also insanely comfortable. I adore this sweater version for winter. A classic chambray
buttondown shirt adds just a bit of rugged edge, and it’s very easy to breastfeed in –
especially with a nursing tank underneath. Add a leopard belt and some cozy leopard
TOMS. Everything about this outfit is more exciting than a boring plaid buttondown
with jeans! Consider adding a scarf in a contrasting pattern for some extra warmth and
nursing coverage, if needed.

The Breastfeeding-Friendly Dress
Breastfeeding - Bohemian Dress
Breastfeeding - Bohemian Dress by bibliomomia featuring topshop maternity

These are elusive creatures, but they exist. Look for necklines that can be yanked down
or over (on this dress, you can easily untie a shoulder for nursing access), or wrap dresses
that can be untied, or crossover bustlines that can be pulled down. Strapless works too,
of course, but the baby might just yank down your dress to gain access to his dinner!
I love the slouchy and casual silhouette of this dress, which would be forgiving for
postpartum wear, too. This gorgeous but comfy nursing bra is proof that your lingerie
doesn’t have to transform to a sea of beige. The bright pattern begs for a patterned tight
(and Spanx will be your new best friend for a while), as well as a classic leather belt
to break up your top and bottom halves. Add a rugged but comfortable boot to traipse
around town with your newest, constant, hungry companion.

In outfits like these, I felt like myself. And when I was sleeping less than 2 hours at a
time and barely able to grab a shower, my clothes became my armor.

But here’s an important final note, mamas. As much as I believe breastfeeding is great
for the kiddo, my personal mantra has become “happy mama, happy baby.” For a million
different reasons, breastfeeding might not work for you and your child. Don’t waste
precious time that you could be spending with that squiggly mass of baby flesh worrying
about it.

If you have questions about breastfeeding, mama style, or how to get spit-
up out of cashmere, please come say hello at BiblioMOMia! 
A million thanks to Meggy for inviting me - welcome
to the great wide wild world, little Liam!

A super wonderful post I'll be referring back to many of times!  Thank you SO much Amy!! xox

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