Packing my hospital bag at around 32 weeks pregnant, I still remember ticking off my list; nappies – check, maternity pads – check, magazines – check, baby’s ‘coming home outfit’ – check.
I think as new parents, part of the excitement is imagining your baby leaving the hospital in their first outfit.Theres absolutely certainly going to be that obligatory photo of dad carrying the baby in the car seat through the hospital ward (yes of course we did that too). As a first time mum-to-be, this is just one of the many exciting things we have to plan.
I had my son’s first outfit planned, but I also knew that when I left the hospital, I wanted to look good, too.
Of course, I’m not talking about bringing my makeup and hair curlers, but I didn’t want to wear my slobs and use the excuse of ‘well, I HAVE just had a baby’. I wanted to wear something that I felt good in. I settled with a button down leopard print maxi dress as it made me feel glam, even though my hair was up in a topknot and the bags under my eyes were definitely designer.
Retaining your identity after having a baby
I’ve always been someone that loves my clothes, loves my shoes. Throughout my pregnancy, I still wanted to look well dressed and well kept. I used to worry that after I had my baby, would I then turn into one of those ‘mumsy’ mums and lose all sense of style because there were more important things to worry about without even realising? That would’ve been my worst nightmare.
I think it’s so important to not lose a sense of self identity after having a baby. Yes, I am someone’s mum now, and the most important name I have is mum, but I am still me and I am still a woman. Part of our identity is what we do, how we carry ourselves, and how we dress.
I think it’s so important to not lose a sense of self identity after having a baby.
Finding breastfeeding accessible clothes
That’s it settled then. I will resume wearing all my normal clothes postpartum – when they fit, obvs (I definitely ate a bit too much). Oh, but there’s a catch: I realised then, that I couldn’t yet wear ALL of my favourite previous clothes because they were not all breastfeeding accessible.
The first few breastfeeds, I stayed at home to feed as I was still struggling with the right positions, the latching. I found it really hard at first to unbutton a top and hold my newborn son at the same time. There were all those every new mum’s thoughts going round in my head (which I know now are completely normal) of making sure you’re supporting the baby’s head, making sure you don’t drop them etc, combined with the excess sweating and hot flushes pre feeding as your body is going through all these hormonal changes. I also had the lovely pregnancy related carpal tunnel syndrome postpartum which was still unpleasantly lingering around like a fart in an elevator, so I couldn’t feel my hands fully while trying to hold my son. Every feed felt like a mission. The only thing I could do was strip my top half off and unclip my nursing bra.
With time, of course we got to grips with everything. I didn’t need to take my top off to breastfeed. I could wear a shirt or dress with buttons on, and unbutton when necessary.
All was good, we went out for coffee, my baby fed before we left the house so he wouldn’t need feeding out. Or so I thought.
Breastfeeding in public for the first time
We’d got our coffees and my son started crying. I knew the cry – he was hungry for his mama. It was time to face my fears – breastfeeding in public. I was wearing a top with buttons on for easy access for the boob. Whilst I had a blanket with me to use as a cover, I just felt like the blanket covering my son was creating a disconnection between us. I wanted to see him feeding from me.
With our confidence growing, every outing I knew there was a chance I’d have to feed my son in public. My outfit choices had to be centred around that. Easily accessible, and quick to open and close.
Growing in confidence with breastfeeding in public
I admitted that I am someone that loves my clothes, but I am also someone who is aware of what the fast fashion industry does to the planet and I do not want to contribute to that. I know there are brands that sell clothes with zips specifically for breastfeeding, and that’s great. But for environmental and also for financial reasons, I wanted to use my regular clothes that are accessible. Button shirts, wrap jumpers, tie waist dresses and button down dresses were my best friends.
Button shirts, wrap jumpers, tie waist dresses and button down dresses were my best friends.
With time I became somewhat of a pro, feeling more confident feeding anywhere and everywhere. When my son needs me, I feed him no matter where I am, or who I’m surrounded by. I no longer have to wear buttons or wrap tops and dresses. I just FOO – breastfeeding lingo for ‘flip one out’. This is something that’s taken time, but you will get there too. Each feed in public gets easier.
My tips for dressing when breastfeeding in public
A few tips of how to dress as a new breastfeeding parent:
- Start with buttoned tops and dresses. It’s easy to quickly unbutton with one hand and hold your baby with the other. Try this at home a few times first before going out if you’re a bit nervous about feeding in public still.
- When you feel like you’ve got a hold on buttons, move to wrap/tie up dresses and tops. They’re a little bit harder than buttons, but once you get used to it it’s easy.
- Once you feel confident feeding in public wearing buttons and tie up attire, move to one layer on top ie a tshirt. Use the OUOD (One up one down) method (tshirt up, bra cup down).
- You have a dress that has no obvious access? Wear cycling shorts or leggings underneath! Use the OUOD method, this way your knickers will not be on display.
- If and when you are ready to return to any exercise, instead of purchasing a nursing sports bra, use the sideways method with a sports bra you already own.
- Wear clothes that make YOU feel good. You are a mum, but you are still YOU.