Never underestimate the comfort and utility of good nursing bras, blouses, and dresses! They make breastfeeding and pumping anytime, anywhere so much easier and more convenient. And if you choose well, you can wear them from the time you get pregnant to well after you wean. I realized this when I first encountered a nursing Mom who happened to be wearing regular clothes. She was in a crowded hospital lobby waiting to undergo some tests. Her baby had started to cry uncontrollably, so she had no choice but to pull up her shirt and feed right there with her abdomen and breasts exposed. Most people simply looked away, but a few stared at her askance, and I could see that she was also embarrassed and uncomfortable. She had every right to feed her baby as she pleased, but maybe some proper clothes would have made it less awkward for her and for everyone else.
Not all maternity or nursing clothes have to be loose or frowsy. The proliferation of online shops specializing in nursing wear has both vastly increased our options for any type of occasion, be it formal or informal, and decreased the average price for each piece. When I was breastfeeding my eldest son 7 years ago, I could only buy nursing apparel from specialty shops and department stores for around P500-1500 each. Nowadays, I can regularly buy similar-quality clothes online for as little as P200-400 apiece. And no one can tell the difference! (My mother sometimes asks me to buy her a different color of whatever blouse or dress I’m wearing, only to look startled when I slyly show her that it has hidden holes.) Personally, I prefer the ones that allow you to access both sides at the same time so that you can use a letdown catcher (like the Haakaa) while you’re feeding your baby, or a double electric pump. This is something you should verify while buying something, especially when online shopping, as this is a detail that is often omitted in product descriptions. Most of these clothes have hidden holes on the sides, retractable front panels, or overlapping layers that allow you to discreetly expose just enough skin to allow pumping or breastfeeding without giving everyone a show. The best ones, like I mentioned, don’t even look like nursing wear, which is great because it means that you can still use them even after you’ve weaned your baby. This is actually a deal-breaker for me whenever I select tops or dresses; I don’t want to throw away money by buying stuff that I can only wear for a few months.
Nursing bras have also become more affordable and easier to find. The high end ones also cost between p500-1500 each (que horror), but if you don’t mind settling for unbranded ones, they can be bought for as cheaply as p70-80 each. Just be careful with sizing, and read reviews first. I suggest buying during your third trimester of pregnancy (when your breasts have already enlarged), and getting non-wired ones for better comfort. You can also buy bra extenders for about P10-30 each (you will need them once your twins start engorging, believe me!) Personally, I like the bras with flaps that open up sideways from the front, rather than those that open up downwards from the strap; however this is a matter of personal preference.
I should also mention breast pads. You’ll need these especially during the first months because you can never tell when a letdown is going to occur, especially in public. Anything can set it off, even the sound of a crying baby that isn’t even yours! There are few things more embarrassing than having 2 wet spots suddenly appear on the front of your shirt while you’re in a meeting. I recommend the reusable, washable ones instead of the disposable ones, as they’re better for the environment, and also cheaper in the long run. They can be bought in department stores (like SM) or online.
Edit: I forgot to talk about nursing covers. These are essential if you intend to feed or pump outside your home. There are several styles: apron-types that just cover your front, which would be adequate if you are wearing a nursing top; poncho or tent-types that cover your whole body from the neck to the waist, which you can use if you are wearing a regular top; and infinity shawl-types that you can drape over the baby and the relevant part of your anatomy. This last one is useful because you can use it as a shawl or accessory even if you don’t intend to pump or feed at all. It is up to you which style to buy, although I personally recommend getting more than one type so that you have options to choose from according to the situation. I also recommend getting ones that are stiffened with wire or plastic on the top so that you can peek at your baby while he is nursing. Lastly, the steamy climate of the Philippines means that it would be logical to choose a light, breathable cloth if you want to keep your baby cool while nursing. The prices of these covers range from P200 to up to more than p1000; from personal experience, the cheaper ones do just as well. Check out Inangscollection (link below) for some nice ones that are super affordable.
A sample nursing blouse from Inangscollection.
Below are a few of some of my favorite online shops where I buy nursing apparel. They’re not paying me to advertise for them, by the way; I just like their products enough to give them some free publicity.
How about you, where do you shop for nursing wear?