Breastfeeding Clothes—What To Wear

Comfort and Function—5 Types Of Clothing For Nursing Mothers

If you're planning to nurse your baby, or if you're already breastfeeding, you've probably asked the question, "What should you wear when you're breastfeeding?" This is an important question to ask before you nurse, as some clothes are much easier to wear than others. You may have had friends offer suggestions, and after nursing awhile you'll probably be offering other friends the same tips. Having the right clothes can, and will, make your life easier during your busy days with your new baby.

Best Clothes to Wear When You're Breastfeeding

You don't have to buy special breastfeeding clothes to be able to breastfeed comfortably. A button-down blouse that you can quickly open or tee shirt that you can pull up to expose your breasts will work just fine. If you would like to purchase clothing made for nursing mothers, however, there are plenty of designs and styles to choose. With a slit or a flap in the front of the garment, nursing clothes can make breastfeeding easier and more discreet.

Tips For Picking Out Breastfeeding Clothes

We will look at specific clothing articles below, but a few general tips for your wardrobe are a great way to begin planning.

  • When picking out pieces for your wardrobe, keep in mind that patterns, prints, and darker colors will help hide any unexpected leaks much better than solids or light colors. You may also want to wear breast pads inside of your nursing bra to help soak up any breast milk from leaky breasts and prevent stains from reaching your clothing. While these are helpful, many new mothers will tell you that breast pads only help to a degree. 
  • Jackets, vests, and sweaters are good to have on hand in case you need to quickly cover an embarrassing stain. They can double as a nursing cover allowing you to breastfeed more discreetly as well. Scarves and shawls are also great accessories that can cover leaks and help provide privacy if you will be breastfeeding in public.
  • Try to stay away from tight fitting bras, tops, and blouses. Pressure from tight clothing on your breasts can be uncomfortable and could lead to sore nipples, plugged milk ducts or mastitis.

Types of Breastfeeding Clothes

From casual wear to professional outfits and even formal wear, you can find a variety of blouses, shirts, tank tops, dresses, and sleepwear made especially for breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding clothes are found in maternity shops, department stores, or online. Here are some examples of the types of nursing clothes available that you might want to add to your wardrobe:

1
Nursing Shirts and Blouses

Breastfeeding Clothes: Nursing Tops
Having the right breastfeeding clothes is very helpful to new mothers. Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Breastfeeding fashion has come a long way. Nursing shirts and blouses come in so many different styles and colors.  

Nursing tops may have sides that pull over, button down or pull up. There are also styles that don't look nursing tops at all. You might even continue to wear some of your nursing tops long after you wean your baby.  

2
Nursing Bras

Breastfeeding Clothes: A Nursing Bra
Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

nursing bra has flaps or panels that move over or pull down so you can breastfeed without having to take off your bra. A good nursing bra will be comfortable, fit you well, and provide support for your heavy, milk-filled breasts.

When possible, choose a bra made from a natural, breathable, absorbent fabric with soft cups. It's easy for nursing bras to become wet, even with nursing pads, and an absorbent fabric will leave you feeling much more comfortable.

3
Nursing Tank Tops

Breastfeeding Clothes: Nursing tank tops are a good option for day and night.
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The nursing tank top, also called a nursing cami, is a great addition to your wardrobe. With sides that you can unclip and pull down like a nursing bra, these comfortable tops allow easy access to your breasts for breastfeeding.

You can wear a tank top on its own if you're feeling warm, or layer it under other items of clothing. You can also wear these soft, comfortable tops overnight.   

4
Nursing Sleepwear

Breastfeeding Clothes: Sleepwear, Nightgown, Pajamas
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Whether it's a nursing tank and yoga pants, or a cute nursing nightgown, sleep in something comfortable that allows easy access to your breasts for those nighttime feedings.  

If you only make one purchase designed specifically for breastfeeding, this might be a good choice. Good nursing sleepwear will allow you to nurse your baby as easily possible and get some more shut-eye before the next feeding.

5
Nursing Dresses and Formal Wear

Breastfeeding Clothes: Nursing Dress
Jana Leon/Stone/Getty Images

When you want to dress up a little, go out to dinner, or head off to a family party, you don't have to worry about what to wear. Stylish and flattering nursing dresses and formal wear are available. 

Bottom Line on Clothes for Breastfeeding

Taking a little time to think about your wardrobe before your baby comes will help you free up more time after she is here. You will be feeding your baby often, and having clothing that provides easy access to your breasts can make feedings that much easier. Breastfeeding clothes have become much more stylish, and many women find that they still enjoy wearing these garments long after their baby is weaned.

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View Article Sources
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Completely Updated and Revised Second Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.