Getting married and having a baby seem to be the two big times in life where you're fully expected to spend a lot of money. There are whole industries to help you celebrate these occasions, and it's easy to feel like you have to spend the money so that you don't miss out on an important aspect or item. To me, buying breastfeeding-specific clothing is something that a lot of women feel like they need to buy. After you've likely shelled out a lot of money on clothes that fit and flatter your pregnant body, suddenly you have a new wardrobe you need to complete. And while there are some styles that are nearly impossible to nurse in, for the most part, I've managed fine without nursing clothes, and I have no interest in buying breastfeeding clothes. Not now, and likely not ever.
I love it when people share photos of their beautifully decorated nurseries. I don't fault them at all for wanting to make a nice space for themselves and their baby. What I don't like, however, is that I had a stab of anxiety when my first baby was coming and I was living in a one-bedroom apartment. My baby was getting a play yard and a dresser, which I dutifully repainted in gray and yellow. But that was it. I didn't register for a crib, or a bedding set. There wasn't a mobile or wall art. And you know what? It was totally fine. When I felt that same stab about nursing clothes, I basically decided to ignore that as well.
That doesn't mean I didn't buy any nursing items. I'll admit, those nursing camisoles were super comfortable in those first weeks when my breasts were constantly changing sizes and my baby was on one breast or the other. And sleep bras were a must because I needed something to keep the nursing pads in place. But those tops, the ones with the secret holes or slits so that you could pull your breast out with a minimal of skin showing? I just didn't bother.
It was nice to know that there were no hard rules; that I didn't need to spend extra money on something that didn't even work that great for me.
For times when I didn't want to show a lot of skin and when I was still getting used to breastfeeding in public, I would wear a tank or a camisole underneath another shirt. When it was time to breastfeed, the shirt got lifted and the camisole just got pushed aside. I liked layering with snug camisoles anyway, because they smoothed out my postpartum belly. With the exception of a few dresses I owned, most of them had a low enough or a stretchy enough neck that I could simply pull it down to nurse. (And I realize this may show more skin than some women are comfortable with, but for me, the simplest solution was always the one I took.)
After my first baby, I remember going into a maternity store to buy nursing bras. I don't know if this store just didn't have high quality ones or what, but the bras that I bought fit awful. Despite having padding and even an underwire, they offered very little support. They didn't look great under my clothes. I felt more confident wearing the nursing camisoles, even if they did give me a perpetual uni-boob.
Then I had a friend point out that she just wore regular bras and pushed them aside, and it was a serious lightbulb moment for me. Yeah, maybe it might wear out the bra a little quicker, but at least I was wearing bras I was comfortable in. Ones that were pretty and made my breasts look perky under my clothes.
Just like I'd rather spend creative energy on something other than a nursery, I'd rather spend my money on experiences with my kids than things for them.
There's another perk to nursing in a regular bra. When I was wearing my baby in the carrier, I found that by having my breast propped up on top of the bra cup put my breast at the right height for my baby to nurse comfortably. Of course, this is something each woman will have to play with on her own, but it was nice to know that there were no hard rules; that I didn't need to spend extra money on something that didn't even work that great for me.
If I had a do-over with my first, I would still buy those camisoles and sleep bras, but I wouldn't bother with much else. There is no rush to figuring what clothing works best for you or what makes you feel the most comfortable feeding your baby out and about, but I don't think an entire line of nursing clothes is necessary, just like I don't think a beautiful quilt or the perfect paint color are necessary. If they make you feel good and you want them, then by all means, buy them. But in my own experience, they just didn't work for me.
Now pregnant with my third child, I've let go of a lot of the unnecessary pressures. I won't ever have the perfect nursery. I'd rather spend my creative energy on other things. I know when this baby gets here, I will be busy with my older two kids.
Now pregnant with my third child, I've let go of a lot of the unnecessary pressures. I won't ever have the perfect nursery. I'd rather spend my creative energy on other things. I know when this baby gets here, I will be busy with my older two kids. I won't have time to fret over the perfect clothing for nursing or to worry about covering up in public. (To be honest, I don't worry about that anyway.) There's so much pressure to buy a lot of things and even despite my pragmatism, I'm still a sucker for buying tiny newborn-sized things. But this baby isn't going to have the car seat that matches the play yard that matches the receiving blankets.
There are so many gadgets on the market now. With my first I dutifully bought a baby monitor. And then I shared a room with my baby and never needed it. I bought bottles "just in case" I decided to pump and feed him a bottle. But I never did. I took every list and checklist out there very seriously. But I didn't need to. Just like I'd rather spend creative energy on something other than a nursery, I'd rather spend my money on experiences with my kids than things for them. And in the case of breastfeeding clothing, I'm definitely not buying a whole wardrobe of clothing for myself when I'd probably rather buy those tiny onesies, even if I don't need them.