How to Look Put Together While Breastfeeding

Long time no post! I’ve had a busy few months coming back from maternity leave and have found Instagram a faster place to post pics, muse on style, and even share a few thrift find videos. For more regular content, find me on IG at www.instragram.com/thriftshopchic. If you’d rather wait for more in-depth stuff here on the blog (thank you!!), rest assured – I still plan to post here whenever life is a little more relaxed. 

As I sat nursing my kid in clothes soaked through with milk a week after giving birth, I texted a friend to say “No one reminds you how gross this part is!”

It can be hard to feel put together during the postpartum stage, particularly if you’re breastfeeding; it often seems like everything you touch becomes drenched in some kind of bodily fluid. It’s more than okay to live in sweats and muddle through it, but for those moments when you want to feel like something other than a human ShamWow, here are my tips.

Soak up the extra. My sanity (and my laundry!) improved so much when I was able to get rid of the cold, clammy sensation of extra breast milk against my skin. To get the excess under control, I tucked a burp cloth between my baby’s chin and his shoulder underneath to catch drips and spills; wear washable cotton breastpads which I change frequently; and if I really need to make sure a random letdown doesn’t soak through, I use some washable bamboo breast pads with a plastic lining (be warned that these aren’t breathable and leaving them in too long can lead to thrush). I leave a stack of cotton breast pads on the nightstand so I can easily swap them out at night, when I’m most likely to leak a bunch.

But for me, the MVP of staying dry has been a milk saver – a silicone container that slips into your bra and collects the excess milk from the breast opposite the one on which your baby is nursing. No more soaking through your breast pad and onto your shirt! Huge bonus: you can freeze the extra milk and save it for when your baby needs a bottle, thus getting a great start on your stash without needing to use a pump. I use the Milk Saver by Milkies and collect at least 8 ounces a day, sometimes more. (This is not an affiliate link or a sponsored review; I bought it with my own moolah. This brand does cost more than others but is made in the USA and gets great reviews. Fourth months in, I love it.)

 

Figure out how you like to nurse and dress for it. The standard attire for breastfeeding is a nursing bra and any number of nursing-friendly tops: wrap v-necks over camisoles; tops with secret extra panels that move out of the way; shoulders that come unsnapped. But for me, all that gear and extra fabric gets in the way of nursing; I end up fumbling with catches and snaps and panels while the baby is fussing with impatience. Plus, leaving any part of the shirt underneath my breasts is a recipe for soaking (and staining) as the shirt then catches what my kid isn’t drinking.

Since my first kiddo was nursing, I’ve done what I’d seen another mama do: I simply pull up the bottom of my shirt and pull up my bra to give my baby access and get on with it. (Thanks Caitlin!! <3) Bonus? I never need to buy nursing-specific clothes, which often come with a retail markup compared to regular clothes.

If nursing bras and tops are your jam, though, you can definitely find them at thrift stores and kids’/maternity consignment stores, or borrow from a friend, which is what I did the first time around when I was figuring everything out. Check the regular racks for v-neck tees and dresses as well; if they expose too much bra, a stretchy tank underneath or a scarf over can cover up the gaps:

A few other tips:

  • I find that with any type of top, it’s easier not to mess with multiple layers. So if you need warmth, try layering with open cardigans, blazers, etc.
  • Wear your maternity pants/tops as long as you want. A friend with a year-old baby and I were talking about this recently: I’m still wearing a maternity top just because it’s comfy and I like the stripes, and she’s still wearing maternity pants because she never has to worry about if they’ll fit or sag. If they’re still useful to you, wear them!

I spy a maternity top!

  • Spruce up your look with a few non-nursing accessories. If you’re nursing in cold weather, find a coat (either from your closet or the thrift store) that makes you look and feel great so you’ll always be pulled together no matter what things look like underneath! Same with fun, comfortable shoes (see my golden sneakers above). My favorite way to look put together that has nothing to do with bras or tops? Earrings. I can swap out PJ pants for jeans, throw on a coat, put in my earrings, and in no time I’m presentable to take my daughter to preschool even though my bra is soaked and I woke up three times in the night to feed the baby.

What are your tricks and tips for dressing while you’re nursing? Or dressing while you’re recovering from surgery? Or chronically ill but still need to live life? Share with us below!

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