Guest Author - Nicki Heskin
Nursing through the winter season can be complicated by the need for layers and bulky clothing. Buying custom nursing wear can be expensive, but many standard wardrobe items may not meet the needs of nursing. Here's some tips on problems you might encounter, and how to salvage more of your current wardrobe by adding just a few winter "must haves."
• Nursing Bra Options – Once you make the switch to turtlenecks, hooking and clipping the panels on nursing bras can get complicated. When I wear turtlenecks, I shed the standard bras and switch over to a sleep bra. A sleep bra is simply pulls down over the breast for nursing rather than having a panel to undo and drop, so it's easier to handle from the bottom of a shirt or sweater without having to fish around for the clips, hooks or snaps. Personally, I prefer the Medela Sleep Bra, which is made of a very thin fabric (95% cotton and 5% spandex) that is easy to pull aside. But for those who are more endowed that I am, you might want a more substantial fabric and all cotton. Motherwear offers some sturdy stylish options. I've used the lace bordered version. It's not as flexible or comfortable as the Medela, but offers more support for daytime wear if you need it. Sleep bras should run under about $20 each, so one or two make a reasonable investment.
• Keep Warm with Camis – Even more than a sleep bra, my favorite winter bra is a shelf-bra camisole. This is a great option because it adds a layer to your clothing, as well as keeps your tummy and side covered for warmth when you lift up your top or sweater. On the down side, it's a little bit flattening for the breasts, so it might not create quite the profile you are used to seeing in the mirror. Be sure to get ones with adjustable straps, as you will likely need to loosen them all the way, and a low enough profile in the front to be able to pull it down below the breast easily. I tend to wear these to sleep as well, as an extra layer under my long sleeve button down pajama tops! I've found these at outlet stores for less than $10 each and they are still wearable when nursing is through.
• Make your own nursing undershirts – This winter, I found myself wanting to wear my well-loved selection of wool sweaters, which are less bulky than the cotton variety (so the poor baby doesn't end up with 5 pounds of fabric bunched up on top of her while she's nursing!). But I found it impractical to be all day long untucking and retucking my undershirt, which I have to wear or else the wool makes me itchy. So went out to my local discount store and picked up a couple cheap winter thermal undershirts (Target has some nice ones from the Cuddleduds line…so soft…). They carried both crewnecks and V-necks to match both styles of sweaters. Then I cut a diagonal line on each side from just outside the breastbone up towards the shoulder. Voila…a DIY nursing undershirt. This can also be accomplished with a tight long sleeve T-shirt or other knit top either with the slits or else by simply cutting out the whole chest area. Don't spend a lot of money on these, because when you're done nursing there won't be much to do with them besides passing them on to another nursing mama, or tossing them out. I bought mine for about $9 each, or make use of some old shirts you don't wear anymore.
By taking advantage of these easy tips, you can minimize fumbling with bras, keep warm, and "reactivate" much of your regular wardrobe into nursing wear, without spending a ton on dedicated nursing clothes. So pull back out that favorite sweater and nurse away!