After my baby was born this spring, style was the last thing on my mind. Between dealing with soreness (upstairs and downstairs), suffering night sweats, and, most of all, caring for my newborn, I wasn’t exactly occupied with my closet. But as the fog lifted and I started wanting to take my son out of the house with me, I was ready to wear cute clothes. Unfortunately, I had pretty much none.
Making the societal pressure to “bounce back” even worse, I felt like I had to quickly lose all the baby weight just to be able to get dressed in the morning. I was several sizes larger than my pre-baby clothes, and all my maternity clothes were designed to show off my bump. (I definitely still had a baby bump; I just didn’t want to show it off anymore.) When shopping for new clothes, I faced a dual challenge: finding pieces that were flattering but helped me hide my belly and finding tops and dresses that I could nurse in.
Many nursing tops can be expensive or just dorky, full of zippers and extra layers of fabric that scream, “I’m now a breastfeeding mom, and I can never forget it!” In the months since my son was born, though, I’ve been able to build a wardrobe that I love—maybe even more than the one I had before.
When you’re learning how to take care of a baby, there are so many things demanding your immediate focus, and maybe you don’t want to focus on fashion right now. That’s okay. Or maybe, like me, you’re relearning your relationship with your body, and you need a confidence boost. Whether you’re looking for nursing-friendly outfits or just comfy styles to help you feel good, here are my top tips for postpartum dressing.
01. Store your old clothes.
Some women bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight after a few months. Some never do. I’m still a little hopeful that not every investment piece I bought pre-baby is a lost cause, but I don’t need them sitting in my closet, making me wish I could fit into them. So my old clothes are upstairs in storage bins, to be pulled out at a later date (or, maybe, eventually donated).
You don’t need pressure to lose weight within a certain timeline. At the same time, you don’t necessarily want to lose clothes you might wear again. So take your too-small clothes and store them or loan them out to friends—just make sure you get them out of sight so when you look at your closet, all you see are clothes that fit your body now.
02. Buy loose and stretchy tops.
You can go through your whole postpartum journey without buying a single “nursing top.” While you will definitely need some nursing bras (and these are a few of my favorites), you don’t actually need cotton t-shirts with flaps or jackets with midsection zippers to feed your baby on the go. All you need is a top you can hide your baby under or one that you can pull down far enough to nurse your baby comfortably. If you opt for a top you can pull down, you might want to invest in some nursing covers (I love these). Other blouse styles that can be breastfeeding-friendly include button-ups, stretchy v-necks, and wrap styles.
03. Wear dresses. Lots of them.
As in pregnancy, dresses will be your best friend. You may be thinking, “I just brought forth a child into this world! I don’t have the energy to be fancy.” Hear me out: We are living in the golden era of the house dress, a flowy, big, comfortable piece of fabric that will make you feel feminine and lovely while allowing you to put the smallest possible effort into getting dressed in the morning. A lot of the dresses that were good for maternity (tight around the bust, loose around the waist) will also be perfect for postpartum. For breastfeeding, the same rules as tops apply: buttons, stretchy fabrics, and wrap dresses are your friend.
04. Mom jeans.
Mom jeans are in, and it’s time to get a pair that fits you. Whether or not your size right now will be your size in a year or even in two months, you need a pair of jeans that fits. Luckily, “mom jeans” are not only trendy but probably most flattering during this phase. Jeans can be expensive, so I recommend shopping secondhand or looking for sales. Some pants you can buy in more nebulous sizes that will fit you as your weight fluctuates, but a new pair of jeans that perfectly fits your new mama curves will do wonders for your self-confidence.
05. Slip-on shoes.
It might seem weird to include a shoe audit in your postpartum wardrobe refresh, but it’s probably necessary. Our feet often swell during pregnancy and sometimes remain larger than they were before, meaning some of your footwear may no longer work. Regardless, you’re going to be doing lots of running about with your baby, and you’re going to want some shoes you can slip on hands-free. This fall, loafers, clogs, and mules are in, meaning you can get a trendy addition to your wardrobe and make your life so much easier.
Postpartum dressing is all about comfort and functionality that makes you feel good. Don’t let insecurity or fears about breastfeeding in public limit you. Your body is amazing—you just brought life into the world! Honor the stage you're in. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures of your baby and yourself.