Little Green Dress- What Works to Wear While Nursing

by - Friday, September 30, 2016

babywearing at the park what to wear while nursing

While you are pregnant, you hear over and over that you look beautiful and that you are doing something miraculous. Fourth trimester, not so much. The only real impulse we see toward the fourth trimester is to render it invisible- the idea is that infant mothers should stay home, put their boobs away, and get back to their "pre-baby bodies" as quickly as possible.

Well, excuse me for existing. Let me just put on my invisibility cloak.

 If 4th trimester mamas have any kind of fashion profile, I would guess it is old pajamas with baby puke on it and unwashed hair. I can still remember going to our infant care class, and while watching the movie (made ten to fifteen years ago), being horrified at the ridiculous black hole of sexiness that were the women nursing. I mean, nipples take on a new role after you see them in a nursing diagram. Also, God bless all participants for being willing to be filmed in their sad pajamas. Now, the second time around, I know there is some truth to the horrors of the sad jammies, but not as much as you would think.

The fourth trimester is not the sad, banal pass through people make it out to be.

Women in their 4th trimester are still pretty damn miraculous. They made a person, they got that person out, and now their body is healing and changing all over again. Not to mention their body somehow can make enough food to be the only thing their baby needs to start their life. Did you know breast milk can actually help heal the baby? Forget hiding- those things deserve their own parade!

I don't want to spend the next six months feeling like a walking nipple diagram, and I am not going into hiding either.I have done this once already, and I know some of this is inevitable, but I don't think I spent those post-partum months looking like a dirty pile of laundry. That's just a bummer. I also don't want to leave my house looking like I am sleepwalking, even if that isn't that far from the truth.

With all of the writing on what to wear while pregnant, you can't find much at all about how to rock the new mom phase (true for non-nursers as well). I think the general sentiment is that it is ok to give up at this juncture, but I refuse! That being said, most of the last month and a half, I have looked like this:

new parentss in pajamas with their baby hanging out by the christmas tree

The trick is to find a balance between that comfort/ convenience and to treat yourself as beautiful, because you still are. If pregnant bodies are beautiful and miraculous, so is the body you have now (maybe even more so).  I have learned some things  about what works for nursing and transitioning other than my eeyore pajama pants (super sad. also, I am wearing them as I write this). Nursing poses all sorts of challenges, so I would love to hear what works for you as well! These are my best tips for dressing in those first few months:

1. Thred Up is your New Best Friend- The first time around, I bought a pile of cheapo clothes from Old Navy in a larger size to get me through. It makes sense- your regular clothes and most of your maternity stuff won't work, but you will be back to something more familiar before you know  it, so why waste a bunch of money? A couple of reasons. First, the phase might go longer than you think (or you could be back here again), so the jeans I bought (and a few tops) fell apart so much that I can't use them again. Secondly, Old Navy's clothes are so cheap because they take advantage of cheap and unethical labor- it's just not worth it.

Instead, I highly recommend buying anything you need for this stage at the thrift store. Don't have a good one nearby? Or (more likely) don't have the time for excessive browsing now? Then try Thread Up. I bought every piece for this phase from them this time. I love what I got, it's well-made, it was cheaper than a lot of what I got last time, and I can feel alright if it comes to an untimely (or pukey) end. Fit is going to be a moving target anyway, so I highly recommend buying your new mom wear used,

new parents with their new baby at thanksgiving

2. Embrace the Button Up- In the previously mentioned nipple horror film, the new moms were whipping themselves out from the bottom of their shirts. I refuse to give gravity any help, so my boobs only travel upwards. Because of this, there are two options- low cut tops and button-ups. I also have ginormous unruly boobs, constantly trying to find my babies as if he is Sauron and they are the ring. So I have found Buttons are a nursing woman's best friend, that she can free herself in minutes while flashing slightly fewer people. So far, my favorites are long tunics with buttons and soft stretchy jeans or leggings. I even do dresses with buttons.

dancing at the chihuly museum fourth trimester

3. Belts- Yep, they still help. A good investment that can move through sizes with you. Waists are everyone's friend. Just make sure they are easy to get off so you can be comfy while nursing.
nursing infinity carves

4. Nursing Covers Masquerading as Scarves- Have you seen most nursing covers? They look like puppet theaters mated with seafood restaurant bibs.I don't want to fight with them,  but I would like there to be at least a few people on this Earth who I haven't flashed. Even just one. I found nursing covers on etsy that on first glance just look like infinity scarves but are big (and thin) enough to make really great covers. I also love these ones from Covered Goods, which have a little more stretch (perfect at certain moments).

Even though I am not new at nursing, the Baby Bear is, so I like being able to see him and help him.Plus, these minimize our baggage, which is the key to active and sane parenting. So, if I want to breastfeed in the middle of Seattle Center while eating a doughnut, I can.

new mom babywearing wit a hat  onnew mom in pajamas and boots

5. Hats and Boots- I don't skip showers often, but they do sometimes land in the evening and both boys have  started his day by spitting up in my hair (and the Mom haircut suddenly makes sense). Hats really help cover that mess up. Both hats and boots can make any outfit look like you did it on purpose.In the right, I am literally wearing pajamas, but I look moderately functional, right?

 6. Long Tank Tops- The last thing you need to mess with when nursing is your butt hanging out. They can also be nice to just feel like everything is held in. I love the tank tops from M Rena; they are soft, extra long, and made in America! Nothing like a practical buy that helps an American business.

mom baby and christmas tree what to wear while nursing

 7. Don't Be Too Quick to Turn in your Maternity Clothes- Everybody loses weight in different ways, and there is no shame in getting a little more of your money's worth out of what you bought before digging through what has long been put away. When planning for the fourth trimester, assume you will use the 2nd trimester clothes again (if you are really on point, buy pregnancy clothes that will work for nursing.

Both times in the first few weeks after the birth, I lost more than half of the weight I gained (we'll call this the Baby and Support chunk), the other bit didn't budge (I will guess that is the cookie weight, and it was worth it). This time, I know once I hit a certain point, the weightloss will be slow and just happen as I can be more active. It would be great to bounce back into my normal clothes, but that's fruitless energy to worry about. It turns out that my maternity jeans are way more kind to c-section scars, and a couple of my stretchy, buttoned maternity tops have been the best for yanking out the nunjas. I also like the feeling of my tummy being supported right now. I won't retire my maternity jeans for at least 3 to 5 months.

8. Bras make all the difference- Do not buy anything that looks less powerful than your regular bra. Medela and others sell "Night" bras that basically are built like a training bra. That's nonsense. I had one, it was horrible on all counts. Save your money.

Snaps in the straps (no one needs to struggle here), snaps in the back (don't fall for the sports bra business, because your boobs will resemble James's Giant Peach), and don't have an underwire (ow).  This has been the magic formula for me. I like Bella Materna bras, though I think most are imported now.
new mom in maxi dress about to leave the hospital with baby

9. Maxi Dresses- Comfy and you look put together with minimal effort. I recommend wrap dresses for work or more formal events where your boobs still need an easy exit. I still wear my Breezy Night Stroll dress every week.

10. Bring Yourself a  Change of Clothes- Trust me. Just go get a dark colored maternity t shirt, put it in a bag with back ups for everyone else, and put it in the trunk of your car or basket of your stroller. You will get puked on. Just be prepared.

I hope this helps some poor souls like me who want the internet's help in strategizing their boob cover.  I know I said I am trying to avoid excuses, but if you just had a baby, you just had a freaking baby. If you aren't a celebrity who creepily bounces back into their bikini, or you have a colicky baby, or you just don't care, more power to you- you just had a freaking baby.

You aren't obligated to look pretty or disappear or do anything regarding your looks- you just had a baby for goodness sakes!

 The most important thing, I think, is not forgetting about yourself in all the craziness. I like putting a little thought into this, because it is easy for me to let self-care slide completely. Everybody gets through this phase in different ways, so I would like to hear your strategies!

You May Also Like


  1. Great article! What works for me is nursing bra, tank top, shirt. Layering is a fun way to mix up colors and styles too! Tank top can be easily pulled down and shirt can be pulled up and can help minimize skin showing. Low cut or v-neck can be pulled down easily. Happy nursing mamas!



Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address: