When a woman gets pregnant, she has a reasonable understanding that her body will be different post-baby. Stretch marks, saggy skin, and weight gain are all part of the bargain. While I am endlessly grateful and amazed by what my body has done in growing a tiny human, and providing nourishing breast milk to help her continue to grow, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the specific challenge of trying to dress my postpartum body.
For the first few weeks, it wasn’t really a problem. Unless we were leaving the house or company was coming over, I rarely wore more than underwear and a bathrobe. And when I did bother to leave the house for a doctor appointment or the like, comfort was paramount. I usually wore a stretchy skirt and a nursing tank. I didn’t even bother with a bra most of the time. But now that I’m ready to be out and about more, I’m starting to actually get dressed every day, which is proving to be kind of hard.
First things first, I’d say at least 50% of my wardrobe simply doesn’t fit. I’m about eight pounds above pre-baby weight, which, honestly, isn’t that much. In the grand scheme of things I’m not worried about that weight. It will come off in time. But having so much of my wardrobe out of commission is tough.
Of the 50% that does still fit, about 20% of it is incredibly unflattering because my body is shaped totally differently now. I have a “mum tum,” a pouch of loose skin on my lower belly. I have extra inches all over. Eventually, I will likely be able to wear these clothes again, but they’re out for now.
So let’s say 30% of my wardrobe both fits and looks decent enough that I don’t want to cry when I put it on; only a handful of tops are nursing friendly. Because I am exclusively breastfeeding Vera until she’s at least 5-6 months old, and will continue to nurse (hopefully) through her first year, I need clothes that I can comfortably breastfeed in. I have already spent a couple hundred dollars on nursing tops, dresses, and bras. I have enough that I can go an entire week without repeating, but there’s not a whole lot of variety.
Also, my breasts are a lot bigger because of breastfeeding, so zero of my sports bras fit. Now that I’m trying to get back to running, this is a problem. I can just barely squeeze into one of them, but the others simply won’t do. I’m reluctant to buy larger bras that I won’t wear long term, but I’m gonna have to if I don’t want to have to do laundry every other day, or irreparably stretch out my existing bras and have to replace them eventually anyway.
I’m trying to just suck it up and buy clothes that fit me right now rather than feeling bad about what I have, but that’s expensive. Now that Ben and I are on a single income, I can’t exactly run out and buy a whole new wardrobe. I’m pretty much focused on items that are nursing-friendly, but it can be hard to find inexpensive, well-made, flattering nursing clothes. Much of what’s available is only available online, so it’s a gamble ordering things that may or may not work, and a lot of specialty breast feeding-friendly companies are kind of expensive.
I know this is totally a first-world problem, but it feels really big and important to me. Dealing with postpartum body image is hard enough without having to buy a whole new wardrobe just to feel like I don’t look terrible.
Mamas, how did you deal with your wardrobe during the postpartum period? Did you buy a whole bunch of new clothes? What were your go-tos for breastfeeding tops?