Being a mother has taught me quite a few unexpected lessons including why it’s great that nipple cream exists, to work on things in small bursts instead of marathon sessions, the beauty that is hand-expressing one’s milk, and that there is (sometimes) a difference between nursing friendly and pumping friendly clothes.
During pregnancy, I had invested in some maternity/nursing dresses and made a few Colette Moneta’s (which seemed to be a favorite for nursing without modifying in the blogosphere).
On my first day back at work without my baby, I had the uncomfortable realization that I could not access both breasts simultaneously while staying fully dressed, even though I was wearing a nursing friendly RTW (ready-to-wear) dress. I do not have access to a pumping room (and I refuse to pump in the restroom), and my work is time sensitive; so, I had to partially undress to pump. (Good thing I had an extra baby blanket on hand.)
After this frustrating experience, I really took a look at my wardrobe and realized that discretely pumping with a good chunk of my “nursing” clothes wasn’t really an option. My button downs only worked if I could wear a loose tank top underneath, and my comfortable bra dresses were too revealing to wear to work. Naturally, I went to my pattern library in search of items that would be nursing AND pumping friendly.
I tried the usual hack of a dress where you lift up the outer fabric to reveal a lining with holes. I found those to be great for pumping, but not great for nursing since trying to get prepared for nursing with a hangry baby takes too long. I also tried wearing two full length shirts but I found that to be a rather unwieldy solution, especially in the colder months since you’re wearing all the layers. (Am I the only one that forgets to put the top layer back down?)
I’ve never much liked the crop top trend for myself. (I grew up watching I Dream of Jeannie and in one-piece bathing suits; I have an aversion to showing my midriff or belly button.) Nevertheless, I made some crop tops to wear with my bra dresses, pinafores, with tank tops, avoiding the whole exposed bellybutton issue. These quickly became an integral part of my “momiform” because they aren’t too hot to wear, provide modesty, and make nursing AND pumping access a breeze.
Furthermore, I was able to make comfortable things for myself. Our bodies are changing constantly (I very much underestimated the variation in cup-size throughout the course of one day), it’s really great to wear things that you made especially for yourself. Finding time to sew just a few tops to mix and match with what I had let me have some much needed “me time”; time to not be thinking about my baby, my husband, the state of the house, or my dogs. This really helped me to be a better mother/wife/caretaker since I wasn’t so on edge. Plus, I would put on my tops and just beam with self-confidence; it’s amazing how you can feel so great in something you made, flaws and all.Maternity Sewing recommended crop tops: