Nurturing with Modesty – How to Breastfeed Comfortably, Confidently and Covered
If you have a boob monster like my 7-months daughter, you feel like you are breastfeeding literally every 5 minutes. Meaning, I’m constantly thinking about what I am going to wear, especially if I am going out or have people coming over. As I am doing this for the second time, I feel like I have learned a lot over the past 3 years on how to breastfeed in public and remain covered, comfortable, and most importantly confident! I have come up with a checklist of things that all nursing mothers or mothers-to-be need.
- Nursing Bras and Camisoles: It’s important to invest in nursing bras and camisoles as you will be wearing them every single day. They are made specifically for breastfeeding providing support and usually have built-in clasps or flaps for a ccess for convenient and discreet nursing. Nursing bras are also useful during pregnancy as they provide comfort with extra support features as it's likely that your bra size will increase during pregnancy and after the baby comes. The best time to buy a nursing bra is when you are 7 to 8 months pregnant. Your bra size will be closer to what you can expect during breastfeeding, you will have a nursing bra ready for your hospital bag and it is one less thing to worry about after the baby is born! I recommend getting a nursing bra professionally fitted at a maternity or lingerie store to help you get the right size. You can start with a few bras and then add to your collection after the baby is born.
- Nursing tops and Dresses: Nursing tops and dresses are clothes that are designed for breastfeeding. They have discrete access like slits, flaps, or zippers near the chest area enabling easy and convenient nursing without the need to remove or lift clothing. Most nursing clothes are also suitable for pregnancy as they are made of soft and stretchy materials to accommodate changes in your body making the transition from pregnancy to breastfeeding easier. There are so many different styles of nursing tops and dresses from casual to formal. Many different retailers stock nursing clothes such as Seraphine, H&M, New Look, and ASOS.
- Ruuq Nursing Bodysuit: This is a lightweight breathable long-sleeved bodysuit with an attached full-coverage hijab cap with nursing access. The bodysuit will make sure that your hair, neck, arms, and back are all covered therefore making hijab that extra bit easier! Not only does it provide essential coverage, but the Ruuq nursing bodysuit means that any flowy, stretchy, or loose-fitting top can be used for nursing. Alternatively, you could layer the Ruuq nursing bodysuit, with outerwear such as a belted cardigan, blazer, or buttoned abaya. I have two Ruuq nursing bodysuits and they have been an absolute game changer and holy grail nursing product for me. It widens the options of clothes that I can wear for breastfeeding, and I never have to worry about maintaining modesty especially if my hijab gets pulled by my little monster.
- Easy access clothes and Layering: In your own pre-pregnancy wardrobe, you can easily find lots of clothing suitable for breastfeeding, even if they aren't specifically designed for nursing. Loose-fitting tops, tunics, and button-down shirts are excellent choices because they can be easily lifted or unbuttoned to provide access for feeding. You can just wear a nursing camisole, stretchy tank top, or the Ruuq nursing bodysuit underneath to provide coverage and support during nursing. Abayas or dresses with buttons or zips are also great options for breastfeeding. Wrap and V-neck dresses and tops are versatile options that can be easily adjusted to accommodate breastfeeding. Cardigans, kimonos, shrugs, lightweight jackets, and open abayas can also be convenient as outerwear as they offer an extra layer of coverage and modesty while allowing access to feeding from underneath. Also, if the material of the outerwear is breathable, you can use it to cover the baby for extra privacy. With a little creativity and strategic layering, you can make your existing wardrobe breastfeeding-friendly without the need for special nursing clothing and breaking the bank!
- Nursing cover or a large muslin: A nursing cover or a large muslin cloth is essential for any breastfeeding mother as it provides privacy and discretion while nursing in public. Nursing covers are usually made from a lightweight, breathable fabric that can be draped over the shoulder and around the baby while breastfeeding. They are easy to use, come in lots of different styles, and often have adjustable straps or necklines. My favourite style of nursing cover is the apron-style nursing cover which has a rigid neckline so that I can see my daughter whilst she’s feeding. If you don’t have a nursing cover, you can also use a large muslin instead and drape it on your shoulder or around you. You can buy them from most baby stores or online retailers such as Amazon.
- Loose-fitting and breathable clothing: Breastfeeding can make some women feel warm due to several factors such as hormonal changes, metabolic demands of milk production, and skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. As breastfeeding can take a long time, it is important to pick comfortable loose-fitting breathable materials so that both you and your baby do not overheat. Natural fibres and materials such as cotton, linen, and bamboo are more breathable than synthetics like polyester. These fabrics will help keep you and your baby stay cool and are also less likely to irritate your baby’s skin. As baby skin is very sensitive, wash all your clothes and undergarments that you wear whilst nursing with the same fabric detergent that you would use for your baby’s clothes.
- Pick a practical hijab style: When it comes to wearing your hijab, it's important to pick a hijab style that completes your outfit but also is convenient for nursing. My favourite way of wearing an elegant hijab style whilst breastfeeding is to wear a flowy chiffon scarf over my Ruuq nursing bodysuit. Because the bodysuit completely covers my neck and hair, I don’t have to worry about pinning or securing the hijab. Another practical way is to wear hijab styles that are well-secured or out of the way such as a headwrap or turban style. Keep an extra hijab (and ideally a full outfit) in your bag as it is very likely that your baby will vomit on you at some point in public!
I hope you find this checklist as useful as I do. They will make breastfeeding easier, more comfortable, and more practical. Nursing is a personal choice, and not breastfeeding is a valid option for many mothers. It is important to pick a feeding choice that feels right for you and your baby. Remember, the bond between you and your baby will be created irrespective of the feeding choice!