Nursing Bras, Nursing Tops, Nursing Fashion Faux Pas
So here is an interesting dilemma that I thought you may be able to resolve for me while I await the arrival of my second nugget of love. I was (and hope to be again) a professional breastfeeding mom for at least a year which, for my first, placed me in a headstrong and frustrating battle with two competing interests and they aren’t what you might expect: the nursing bra versus the nursing/pumping shirt.
As a first-time mom I naively expected these two things to work in perfect harmony, but I quickly learned that they have adamantly opposing purposes, the first being to keep your breasts (your unnervingly heavy breasts, which change by up to a three cup sizes throughout the day) in check and the second being to provide one-handed discrete access to those coveted milk-factories at lightening speed. Inevitably, and for good reason, nursing bras seem always to be full coverage while the best nursing tops tend to have a V-neck, drooping-neck or are just otherwise prone to easily expose a lot of chest so that they do not fully cover a full coverage bra. The result…showing a little lace teaser to the judge is absolutely not an acceptable way to win hearings, if you get my drift.
Have you ever come across a solution to the unfortunate problem of nursing bras constantly peaking their way out of the top of nursing-appropriate shirts? And, I will confess, I am absolutely open to shameless marketing here if you have discovered a company that has managed to design a nursing bra that does not come practically to my neck in coverage but still keep these suckers appropriately under control. Thanks!
Mrs. Existential Crisis
Apologies in advance for a more crowd-sourced column than usual, but I have been furiously Googling on your behalf for several weeks now and have come up pretty darn lacking.
Personally, I usually went with nursing tanks over nursing bras, particularly at first when my cup size was fluctuating like crazy and you’d go broke trying to keep up with them. Bonus points because tanks more or less look like any ol’ regular meant-to-be-seen layer. My go-to look was a nursing tank paired with a regular, non-nursing-centric button-down (left fully or partially unbuttoned), a zip-up hoodie, or a deep stretchy v-neck. I think I bought a couple actual “nursing tops” with my firstborn, then got super cranky about the price mark-up on anything and everything officially labeled maternity or nursing and went out of my way to find workable clothing and underwear among the regular racks.
Once my boobs settled down into a somewhat predictable size and my babies got their latching down pat, I still mostly stuck with nursing tanks and workable layers…or just regular, inexpensive, non-full-coverage, non-underwire bras from Target or GapBody and mastered the nursing-from-below maneuver. (Slide baby into position while pulling shirt AND bra up, use baby’s body or blanket or deep-v layering tank to conceal postpartum midsection if in public. I also just hiked everything up and over while pumping, which I always did in private anyway, so who cares if my belly is out?) Sometimes I just yanked the side of a regular soft-cupped bra down from the top — push the strap down off the shoulder, roll and tuck the cup off to the side.
If I wasn’t wearing a button-down/zip-style top later with a tank underneath, I stocked up on stretchy v-neck t-shirts from Old Navy and The Gap whenever they were on sale, so if I stretched the necks out too much they were priced to more or less toss or demote to sleepwear. (Just realized I’m wearing one now, paired with reindeer PJ pants! Happy holidays!) I definitely owned nursing bras all three times, but since I regularly encountered the very problem you describe with full-coverage visibility not working with most of my clothing, I didn’t wear them even close to exclusively, especially beyond the first six weeks.
THAT SAID. I 100% know this anti-nursing-bra/nursing-wear approach simply doesn’t work for women with larger, more cumbersome chest sizes (I think I topped out at a smallish C-cup), or women who need to dress in a more complicated professional fashion than I ever did, as a WAHM who could totally slob it up and rarely had to give a crap about Discretion While Nursing.
So! Ladies Of Ye Old Comment Section: What did you wear? What did you do? What clever work-around or solution did you come up with, or can you provide insight into some Amazing Product that I clearly am not aware exists? Give us your best and brightest nursing wear combos, please!
Photo source: Depositphotos/Anetlanda