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Dressing Your Postpartum Body

I often get asked for tips on dressing postpartum as well as tips for dressing in nursing-friendly options .This is honestly a part of motherhood I found to be harder than I thought it would be. So, I want to round up some of my favorite tips for dressing postpartum that I discovered, and some of my favorite nursing-friendly pieces.

Like I said, I found it to be a lot more difficult that I initially thought it would be to dress my postpartum body, especially the first 4 months (but trust me, I still struggle 8 months postpartum). I had this assumption I could wear a lot of my maternity clothing postpartum but actually found them to be just as uncomfortable as trying to squeeze into pre-baby items. I also didn’t account for how just uncomfortable and “off” my body felt. Nothing felt right. I had also assumed it would be the bottoms that wouldn’t fit right, and that tops would be easy. But, with the much larger chest you get postpartum (if you’re nursing) and expanded ribcage from pregnancy, even tops don’t fit right.

Your body is sort of in a weird limbo after giving birth. You definitely don’t fit into pre-baby items (tops or bottoms), but maternity items feel weird and awkward, too. So, I found having a few “in between” items was the key. Pieces to get me through the postpartum stage in a way that felt comfortable.

High Waisted Leggings

High-waisted is KEY here. Trust me, when I say anything that hits right at your waist is going to feel uncomfortable. I never liked high-waisted anything pre-baby but I was all about them postpartum.

A good pair of high-waisted leggings (or like, 5) will get you through MANY postpartum days. Wear them around the house or throw on a tunic if you have to run out to a pediatrician appointment.

High-waisted is also nice because it helps with nursing because it gives your tummy coverage.

Old Navy Jeggings // Amazon Cardigan

Jeggings

I purchased three pairs of jeggings to get me through postpartum.

Jeggings #1: perfect for immediately postpartum. The Walmart No Boundaries pull-on jeggings are mpre legging that jean, so they are perfect for any time after the baby comes. SO stretchy and comfy! I tend to be between sizes with jeans and usually go for the smaller size if they are stretchy, but I went for the slightly larger size for postpartum wear. Honestly, for postpartum wear, going up one size is usually best. You’ll just be more comfortable and they are only about $10 so you don’t feel bad buying them for just a few months of wear.

Jeggings #2: great for 3+ weeks postpartum. The Old Navy jeggings are a little thicker and structured than the Walmart ones, but still have a waistband instead of a button and zipper. They come in mid-rise which I found to go up high enough be comfortable postpartum. These jeggings are nice enough to wear beyond postpartum as well. While these fit true to size, I do suggest you size up one size for the postpartum months. I bought two pairs one size up when Old Navy was running a sale. I can still wear them, they are just a little big.

Jeggings #3: great for 4-6 weeks postpartum and on. The Abercrombie Jean Leggings are the most “jean-like” of all the jeggings. The material is super stretchy, but they still have a zipper and button, so it’s no AS forgiving as the Old Navy or Walmart ones. I bought these in my normal size so I waited until about 6 weeks postpartum to start wearing them (and they were a little uncomfortable until about 8 weeks postpartum) but I still wear them all the time now. If you want them for immediately postpartum, grab one pair in a size up.

They come in high-waisted as well as ULTRA high-waisted, which, again, I suggest for the postpartum months. Also great for nursing.

Button-Down Tops

For the first month or two, shirts that button down are amazing for nursing. Usually the baby (and mom) are getting the hang of the whole breastfeeding thing. Having something that buttons down just makes everything more “accessible” if you will, haha. What I mean is, you’ll want to be able to see your baby and not worry about fabric falling down on their head. So button-down tops are the best for this.

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I bought a couple of the button-down tops from Old Navy because they come in “tall” and I liked a longer fit (hint: they work well with leggings). They also don’t break the bank, so you don’t stress about baby spit-up all over them. I suggest you size up one in these for postpartum to accommodate your, ahem, larger chest. Plus, looser fit it key post-baby.

Old Navy Swing Top // Target Cardigan

Loose Swing Tops

After a month or two when Miles and I both had breastfeeding down, I loved loose swing tops (I still do). They are not only super forgiving (read: flattering) but very easy to nurse with. They are also very versatile. In the colder months, I could layer them over leggings with a long cardigan (I lived in this one and this one).

Now, in the warmer months, I wear them alone or tie them up with jean shorts.

I like the Old Navy Luxe Swing tanks (I get my normal size, they are roomy, and in the Tall so they are longer). I also really like the Daily Ritual Swing Tanks from Amazon which are amazing quality, super soft fabric, and lay even a little longer than the Old Navy ones. If you want sleeves, the Daily Ritual Tee is great and super long – perfect for leggings.

I also love peplum-style tops as well. The cute ruffles act as amazing coverage in your midsection area where you might still feel a little conscious. I love this affordable tank peplum top, and this one is a cult favorite.

Walmart Cardigan, no longer available – similar here

Layering Pieces

Layering cardigans can be your BFF. They look amazing with loose tops, but immediately can make an outfit look pulled together. Being fashionable was one of my last concerns with a newborn, but it was nice to know I could throw on leggings, a loose tank, and a long cardigan and actually look like I tried. I love this Amazon cardigan, it’s lightweight so it doesn’t make you look or feel extra bulky, but ties an outfit together.

Amazon Joggers // Amazon Swing Tank

Joggers and Comfy Sweats

Let’s get real, here’s what you’ll be wearing about 99% of the time postpartum with a newborn. I bought 2 pairs of joggers in one size up from my normal size to wear postpartum (although, honestly, oversized joggers are OK anytime in my book.) I didn’t want to buy anything super expensive since I knew I’d mostly be wearing them around the house for marathon nursing sessions and they’d probably have spit-up on them half the time. I got a black pair from Walmart that are insanely comfortable. I also got this camo pair from Amazon which I love.

Nursing Bras

Ah, the nursing bra. The wonders, the excitement.

Ha. NOT.

I get asked on the daily for my favorite nursing bra and the truth is, I don’t have one. Maybe by baby number two I’ll have it more down pat. For now, I’ve been sticking to Motherhood Maternity bras because they often run $8 sales on them. Here are the ones I wear and the pros and cons of them.

MiMi Racerback Clip Down Nursing Bra – This bra is stupid comfortable and I have it in 3 colors. The best thing about it is how comfortable it is. The clip down is super easy to so nursing access is a breeze. The downside is it’s not lined, and listen… nursing boobs could use a little padding, I’ll just leave it at that…The other downside is it’s a racerback so it doesn’t work with all tops unless you don’t mind straps showing. Size up one size.

Wireless Lightly Lined Nursing Bra – This bra has padding (your nipples and thin t-shirts will thank you). It clips down in the front so it’s super simple to nurse in. But, the quality leaves something to be desired. I mean, you can’t be too mad, they go on sale for about $8, but I think this bra will last one baby and then need to be retired. It doesn’t hold up super well. But, it’s my go-to when I’m wearing any type of top that requires I have a little extra padding. Size up one size.

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Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra – I have NO idea why this is called a sleep bra. It’s more a lace bralette to me. I love it because it’s insanely comfortable. The lace straps are also really pretty so you can wear it with pretty much any top and not worry too much about straps showing. But, it is all lace, so depending on the material you’re wearing you’ll see the lace underneath. It’s not a clip down bra but instead it kind of overlaps so you can pull it to the side. This makes access a TINY bit harder than a simple clip down. But, it comes in tons of colors and I find it ultra versatile. I wear it with most of my summer clothing. Size up one size.

Nursing Specific Tops

For me, I haven’t really gotten into tops specifically for nursing. They are often pricy and once Miles and I both got the hang of breastfeeding, I didn’t find them any easier than a loose swing tank or t-shirt. This is a personal decision. I know some women who love them.

Nursing In Public

Most often when I get requests for postpartum clothing, it relates to nursing in public. When you’re new to breastfeeding, usually getting comfortable nursing in public takes a little time and that’s totally normal! You might see moms breastfeeding like it’s no big deal all over Instagram but when you go to do it yourself you might get a little shy. Again, SO normal.

Here’s my best advice:

  • Get a nursing cover you feel comfortable with if you decide to use one. And then, practice using it at home first so you feel good using it. I honestly don’t care if people use them or not, but I personally just feel more comfortable with one when I nurse. This is the one I use. I like it because it gives good coverage and the wire swoop top means I can look down and see baby while he’s nursing.
  • Just do it. Honestly, the first step is just going for it and I find that no one ever seems to care when I’m nursing. If you’re OK about it and act like it’s no big deal, everyone else will too.
  • Know your rights. I felt a little better when I first nursed in public just knowing that I had a legal right to nurse my baby in public. No one has ever said anything to me about it, but it was good to know if anyone ever did that I had the LEGAL right to do so.
  • Find a good spot. Like I said, I’ve nursed a lot of places and never had a problem, but if it makes you feel more comfortable as you first start, find a slightly more private spot: ask for the back booth at a restaurant, find a quiet bench, many department stores have women’s lounges, find a place you can face your back to the “public,” use the backseat of your car.

Give your body time

The above picture was one week postpartum. I remember looking at it after it was taken and feeling upset. My stomach still look 8 months pregnant and my face was so bloated. But, looking at this picture now, I feel nothing but happiness and gratitude for my body – what an amazing feat it had just endured. I’m ashamed that I was ever disappointed in my body at the time – but it’s a normal reaction.

Give your body grace. This is the most important “dressing your postpartum body” tip I can give you. I don’t care how many “bounce-back” posts you see on social media, give your body GRACE and TIME. Programs and sites that claim to give you your post-baby body are not helpful, they are toxic. Your body spent 10 months stretching, rearranging, and expanding to carry an entire human being, it’ll never be exactly the same. And, it shouldn’t be.

Just know that you will feel uncomfortable in your body for a little while after pregnancy and that’s totally normal. I feel like most women tend to say it takes about 6-12 months before they feel comfortable in their own skin again. It’s about just giving your body time to readjust, and giving yourself time to love this new body that motherhood has given you.