Finding a nursing friendly dress can be difficult. So much so that you might resort to giving up wearing dresses altogether and just wear skirts and shirts.
Today I've put together five attributes that I feel make a great nursing friendly dress. They are price, comfort, fashion, practical, and one that transitions well. Next, I'll talk about three options available to you and leave you with some final thoughts that can help you find clothing that's actually designed for nursing.
Because new moms are trying to figure out how to pay for diapers and daycare, it's important to buy cheap breastfeeding dresses. Once you find one you like at a price you can agree with, you'll most likely want to buy more in other colors.
You want to select a nursing dress that's made of soft fabric. This will make nursing an easier and pleasant experience for you and the baby. Select one that has a loose stretchy neckline so you can pull on the neck and it will come down, just like a t-shirt.
The first 6 months post-partum is kind of a weird body time. You'll want a dress that's figure flattering and designed in such a way that you’ll look like a normal fashionable woman.
The big elephant in the room is whether or not you can actually breastfeed in the dress. You want one that gives you easy access. If you can pull your breasts out easily, it's good.
For those times you have to nurse or pump at church or at work, you'll want to feel like you're maintaining a respectable level of body coverage (i.e. you're not taking off your entire shirt). It's a big win if you can pump in front of others without flashing them.
How do you nurse in it?
Only certain dress types will allow you to be able to nurse in them. Because most wrap dresses are stretchy, the deep crossover v-neck is easy to pull aside. (More about this below.) You'll need to be able to pull your breasts out and not have it completely stretch out the dress and ruin it.
This will depend largely upon your budget, but if you're anything like me, you'll pick dresses that you can also wear after nursing.
What are your options?
There are basically three types of dresses you can nurse in. They are stretchy dresses that have a stretchy neck, dresses that button down or have a zipper in front, and wrap dresses.
1. Stretchy dresses/stretchy neck
These are great because you can just put your baby inside the dress and it doubles as a cover!
2. Button down or zipper in the front
This type gives you the easiest access.
3. Wrap dresses
Wrap style dresses usually have a crisscross front that overlaps and looks like a V neck. They are great because they are stretchy and can accommodate multiple sizes. They can sometimes have a pretty low cut and you might feel more comfortable with a shirt, half tee, or a nursing tank underneath, so you aren't showing lots of skin or your garments.
In closing, I'd like to say that front wrap dresses make great nursing friendly dresses. However, I want to explain the difference between nursing friendly clothing and clothes made solely for nursing.
Nursing friendly clothes vs Clothes actually designed for nursing
Nursing friendly is anything that's not specifically designed for nursing, but that can be easily adapted.
Examples of nursing friendly clothes
- Crossover necklines of a jersey or knit material so that it has some stretch to it.
- Items with very wide stretchy round necklines.
- Things that can be layered with a nursing tank top. The upside to this is that you don't have to look too hard to find them and you can wear them later when you're not nursing anymore. You probably already have a few things in your wardrobe that would work. Many women using these clothing options will also opt to use a nursing cover while in public.
Clothes made especially for pumping and nursing
There are also clothes that are specifically designed for nursing/pumping access with subtle folds, zippers, or half layers. The advantage to these is that more of you tends to stay covered while accessing yourself for nursing or pumping. It's nowhere near as obvious to nurse in public and many designs can be worn while pregnant or just after giving birth and they're flattering (more comfortable hospital and first visitor options).
Many of these options mean not needing a nursing cover to feel more covered. Many babies don't tolerate nursing covers well due to getting too hot, getting tickled by the fabric, or distracted by it. For mothers of those babies, nursing friendly clothes may leave them feeling more exposed than nursing specific clothes. You can, of course, still wear the nursing specific clothes while no longer nursing, but that is their specific function.
They can also get pricey but there are a wide range of price options available. The other downside is that you don't have any so you'd be building a wardrobe up anyways.
Brands that offer clothing specifically designed for nursing include:
- Bearsland (runs small)
- Savi Mom
- Happy Mama
- Milk Nursingwear
- Undercover Mama
- Sweet Mommy
- Zeta Ville
- My Bella Mama
Some women swear nursing clothes are useless and some women swear they make life so much easier. It depends on your lifestyle, fashion style, and body. Just keep in mind that there are tons of ways they make nursing specific clothes and just because you may not like how one style works on your body, that doesn't mean all nursing clothes will be that same way, and if you'd rather do more nursing friendly clothes that there are more than one way to do that too. Tank top layering, pull down, pull aside, and cowl neck are all viable options that work great too.
What attributes in your opinion make a great nursing friendly dress?