There are two subjects I’ve avoided talking about when it comes to being a mummy – birth and breastfeeding. Yes, two biggies (please excuse the pun) but I’m lifting my silence today. Yes, I’m ready to talk boobies.
Before I start, this post is not about the beauty, brilliance, blah-di-blah of breastfeeding. In my humble opinion there’s far too much preaching on that subject thrust before new mums courtesy of head in the clouds health visitors, the painfully politically correct NCT and government propaganda posters strategically placed in every antenatal clinic waiting area. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to breastfeed but I also strongly believe it’s not the only way to nourish a baby and it’s not the best option for everyone. Every parent deserves to make the best choice for their own child, family and situation, without feeling guilt or pressure. OK, rant over.
This post however is about the inconvenience of living with breastfeeding boobies. As I shared before, I was massively intimidated by the thought of the changes pregnancy would have on my body. However, what I should have been more concerned by is the months after the birth. Yes, clothing a bump is a dream compared to dressing the huge milk-bloated jugs I’m dealing with now.
Yes, breastfeeding gives me a cleavage Pammy would be proud of – huge and completely out of proportion with my frame. And not only do I have to worry about supporting them and dressing them modestly, they also need to be easily accessible. Constantly. Whether that may be in church mid-way through a candlelit Christmas Eve carol concert or on the pitch side of Twickenham cheering on our local side in a rugby cup final (both true breastfeeding stories people). So my wardrobe feels severely limited at the moment to a uniform of skinny jeans and easy to lift t-shirts, shirts and jumpers, accessorised with a scarf for on the spot feeding discretion. Boring, but it’s a formula I’ve found works after making the following breastfeeding fashion discoveries.
1. Breastfeeding specific clothing is unnecessary and dull as ditch water. The miracle mechanisms they promise are in my experience no more convenient or discreet than lifting your top, making them expensive, style bereft and unflattering purchases that don’t really do the job any better than wisely selected mainstream clothing. Except for…
2. Feeding vests. Investing in good quality, breastfeeding-friendly vests can give you a smidgen more fashion freedom. Wearing one as a base layer allows you to build a more flexible outfit for your outer layer, rather than being limited to shirts and cross over necklines that offer convenient booby access. I’ve found the Isabella Oliver vests to be superior to any others in terms of style, fit, support and most importantly operation (not all mechanisms are built equal!) The little clasps on the vest make it easier than most to whip out a boob and also keep your tummy covered when you hitch up your top of choice.
3. Breastfeeding blankets are expensive and unnecessary. When it comes to nursing in public I’m all for it. But although my moral values shout “get ’em out” and be proud, in reality I’m a teeny bit prudish about exposing my boobies beyond the four walls of chez Johnson. So, I bought into the hype and purchased a specific scarf that promised to revolutionise my booby-feeding experience. It’s not that it failed, but it didn’t really make that much difference. Without naming the brand, I found this award-winning contraption I’d been conned into buying to be merely an expensive piece of cloth. A normal thick chiffon type scarf is just as effective in my opinion (particularly the long circular, tube shaped styles) and have a much longer and more flexible wardrobe life than the twee breastfeeding aprons. Unless of course you really, really desperately covet that over promoted in built pocket for your breastfeeding pad!
4. Breastfeeding bras are on the whole ill-fitting and ugly. Just the sight of the bland display of nursing lingerie on offer is enough to make your chest droop. So you’re breastfeeding, your busoms have never felt so big and bountiful, yet it’s also a time when nice supportive underwiring is out of the question. Such is the cruel reality of dealing with breastfeeding boobies. Most nursing bras are saggy and offer little in terms of shape and support. The best I’ve found by far are made by Panache. They offer the rare combination of being supportive and pretty. And you can get matching knickers which is a big thumbs up in my opinion.
So all things considered, breastfeeding may be indisputably fashionable in the health profession’s opinion but it’s certainly not fashion friendly. Yet for every moan I make and every wardrobe induced strop Mr J has to endure, there will be a magical moment like this when a little grateful face gazes up at me mid-feed. And in that split second every wardrobe sacrifice not only seems worthwhile but becomes completely insignificant.