Easy Access: Dressing for Nursing

Easy Access: Dressing for Nursing

Once I was finally able to juggle the car seat, stroller, and packing a diaper bag to get out of the house with my newborn for more than an hour at a time, I came across a new challenge: what do I wear?  Not only am I between sizes (maternity clothes too big, regular clothes still too small), now I have the added challenge of choosing clothing that offers easy access for nursing.  (Read Katy’s great tips on nursing in public.)  After a few frustrating attempts of fitting my new body into my old clothes, I finally went shopping.  What I found is that many tops labeled “nursing” look like, well, a voluminous, old-lady-flower-printed nursing top.  Not cute.  Usually still maternity styles.  Often those pull to the side numbers that just never stay in place.  So here I am to share my creativity in dressing for nursing. [hr]

The Basics

Start with a good nursing bra.  I know bra shopping can be about as fun as swimsuit shopping in January, but it’s really important to try on several different sizes and styles.  My favorite is this one from Motherhood.   It’s super comfortable because there are no wires (which you should avoid anyway because the underwire can cause clogged milk ducts–ouch!) and it’s really stretchy.  When in doubt on the size, think big!  The girls have spent nine months growing and are going to get even bigger.  I bought several cute ones in my normal size but they are just too small to be comfortable.  Always try on bras when the girls are at their biggest; trust me, a too-small bra makes engorgement even more uncomfortable!  If you can’t figure sizes out (it isn’t easy!), get a professional bra fitting.

Don’t forget nursing pads to go inside your bra.  Leaks can happen without any notice so an extra layer is always a good idea!  I prefer these washable cotton ones to disposable; they are much softer and don’t feel or sound like a pad on your boob.  They aren’t sticky on one side like disposable ones but stay put pretty well.  If they move around too much, your bra is probably too big.

White nursing tanks are another essential.  I’ve found that with these babies, any top works for nursing out and about!  When you lift your shirt from the bottom, the white tank underneath can unhook but still cover your tummy so you don’t feel quite as exposed.  (They’re also another layer of coverage when you’re done nursing and forget to readjust your top….not that I would know.)  Another bonus: they help contain those big ol’ girls when you’re bending over!  I found this one at Target for about $20; it’s very comfortable and has held up well through several washings.[hr]

Easy Access Tops

When I first started shopping for non-nursing nursing tops, I was elated to discover button up shirts are so in style this spring!  Not only do they offer easy access but also are structured enough to camouflage any leftover baby belly.  I found these cute ones at Old Navy, and also loved what I saw at Target.  You’ll probably have to buy a size bigger than usual so the shirt can button across the chest without gaping open.

button ups

Having neutral or solid colored nursing tanks are great outfit builders to mix and match with cardigans or hoodies.  Add a scarf and you’ve got a whole new look.  They can stand alone for warm weather too!

Striped tank from Motherhood, on sale for about $15; solid tank from Target, about $20
Striped tank from Motherhood, on sale for about $15; solid tank from Target, about $20

Another good option to avoid the frumpy look of many nursing tops are shirts with a deep, cross over v-neck (I’m sure there is a technical term for this neckline, but fashionista I am not).  Deep v-necks that won’t stay closed are perfect for easy access, so think about the shirts in your closet that you always have to wear a cami under to keep the girls covered!

Added bonus: the cross-over front hides left over baby belly!  Create layers with cardigans for a different look.
Added bonus: the cross-over front hides left over baby belly! Create layers with cardigans for a different look.

Can I make another suggestion?  STOP wearing maternity shirts!!  It was really hard for me to give them up until I realized how baggy and unflattering they were.  I feared pushing a baby stroller and being asked when baby #2 is due because I still looked six months pregnant in my giant maternity shirts.  Yes, some that have the rouching on the sides can still be cute, but pack most of them away.  These clothes will be more special and feel like new when I pull them out for next time. 🙂 [hr]


Okay, pants don’t really matter for nursing but have by far been my biggest challenge for my post-baby body.  What do you do when your maternity pants fall off but your regular pants won’t button?  Use a belly band!  I bought one in my first months of pregnancy but didn’t use it too much because I went straight for maternity pants.  But lately it’s been a life saver!  It can be annoying to wear if you have to adjust it a lot, but it’s allowed me to wear some of my pre-baby pants while masking my post-baby belly.

The other option: buy new pants.  It’s okay to have some in-between sizes.  The baby weight isn’t disappearing overnight and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable or frumpy for the next few months.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money; check out consignment shops, sales racks, or even your friends’ closets for something that you can live with for a while.[hr]

Being a nursing mommy doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home just to feed your baby.  You also don’t have to look like a nursing mommy when you’re out and about!  Do you have any tips for dressing for nursing?

Katie shares her passion for reading and learning as an elementary school librarian. She is a San Antonio transplant who loves traveling, reading, and encouraging her hubby’s new-found talents in BBQ. Her favorite time of year is a toss-up between summer for traveling and fall for college football (Roll Tide!). After six wonderful years of marriage, Katie and Jason welcomed their daughter in December of 2013! Although the journey to motherhood hasn’t been an easy one, she is thankful for the lessons in how important her faith, family, and friends truly are in life.


  1. I always just stuck a tank underneath whatever top I was wearing and called it good for nursing. I would pull up my top shirt, pull down the tank and I’d still be covered while babe ate because I could use the top shirt to hide whatever boob I pulled out for babe to eat. Also I never felt comfortable in nursing bras – totally not enough support for larger nursing boobs. I never had an issue with underwire and I went back to ‘real’ bras once the initial super engorgement was over and my supply had regulated to baby and I could pull them out of the way just fine for nursing on the go.

  2. Undercover Mama > Target nursing tanks. I used the Target ones for my twins and then again for the first 5 months with my third and then discovered Undercover Mamas. You can get them on Amazon and they are AMAZING

  3. Most of my button-down tops from pre-pregnancy still aren’t fitting in the chest area 4 months post-partum, so what I do is wear a nursing cami underneath so I can leave it partly unbuttoned without exposing anything. I also look at all tops for their nursing-friendliness – even those that aren’t “nursing” tops. Gap has some great drapey tees right now that make for easy nursing access. Also, since this is my second kid (and I nursed my first for 2 years), I’m far less self-conscious about nursing in public, so I don’t usually bother with a nursing cami under those. Once summer hits, layering is just going be miserable here! Just keep in mind that baby covers most everything when you’re nursing, and honestly, most people won’t even notice you’re doing it.

    • Great ideas Joy! Summer heat will definitely add a new challenge to the whole dressing for nursing thing. I’m becoming more comfortable with nursing in public, especially as she’s getting older and we’re both getting better at it.

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