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With 3 kids and one more due any minute, I’ve been nursing collectively for more than 13 years. For those of you new to this, it can feel impossibly hard. You will feel so frustrated sometimes, but you can do it. With my first baby, a lactation nurse told me to just stick with it for 2 weeks, and you’ll get it. You. Will. Get. This.
With my first baby, I wanted to wear nursing shirts with hidden inserts and flaps to make nursing in public as discreet as possible. But, being a plus-size mother, it’s hard to find nursing tops that fit right.
With baby #2, I was making my own nursing shirts, but by baby #3, I was totally over this. I figured out how to nurse in regular shirts with my comfort level. I stuck to elastic neckline shirts like peasant tops or tunics and threw a receiving blanket over my shoulder. The blanket was not to cover my babies because they’d just yank it off. The blanket is mainly to make me more comfortable without my huge boobs completely hanging out.
I know many mothers struggle with breastfeeding in public. It’s messy, you feel exposed, your baby doesn’t always cooperate, and sometimes you get so nervous doing it, you can’t even get the milk letdown to come. My own mother told me she stopped breastfeeding me at 6 weeks because nursing in public made her feel so uncomfortable.
These are my FIVE must have things when I’m nursing in public, so that I feel empowered and comfortable to do it anywhere.
Try to avoid underwires. I know with large breasts it’s hard to feel like you have any support with a soft cup bra, but mastitis hurts like nothing else. When your body is just learning to make milk in the beginning, you frequently get engorgement as your body is figuring it all out. The underwires press on those milk ducts and get inflamed so easily.
I’ve tried a lot of nursing bras over the years and I’ve become very picky. Here are my tips for finding a good nursing bra for large-breasted mamas:
#1 Make sure it has ample support while the flap is unhooked. You do not want just a tiny flimsy piece of elastic holding the bra together when the flap is open (like this one, this is not supportive). That elastic will stretch out and break from the weight of a large breast full of milk. I’ve had it happen, and that little piece of elastic gets longer and longer, so that after wearing and washing, you can’t fix the flap with one hand when your baby is done.
#2 You want the easy plastic hooks that you can unlatch one handed. Avoid hook and eyes like the plague because they can get so hard to undo with just one hand.
#3 You want support and you want to be able to fit your breast through the support behind the cup. I’ve tried nursing bras where the the support hole wasn’t big enough to fit my breast through by guiding it with one hand. You want to be able to guide your breast from bra to baby’s mouth with one hand easily. (See how wide the support is behind this flap? That might be too wide for a large breast to fit through.)
This has become my favorite nursing bra. You can buy it in stores at Motherhood Maternity or you can even get it with prime shipping through Amazon! I got my first one at the store, and then bought subsequent ones through Amazon.
It’s got all the things I want in a nursing bra. It’s supportive and has plastic hooks, is definitely comfortable, has room to grow when you get engorged (and you will be surprised how huge your boobs get when the milk finally comes in). I love this bra because it just doesn’t feel restrictive or itchy like other large-sized nursing bras can be.
I keep at least two of these in my diaper bag at all times. In Texas the weather changes at the drop of a hat. One minute it’s cold and 50 degrees and the next it’s almost 90. These are lightweight, so they work for both hot and cold days. They’re great for swaddling an upset baby, covering my giant engorged breasts, or even draping over the car seat with a sleeping baby in it.
I usually buy 1-2 nursing/breastfeeding tops to have in the closet for the beginning first few times we’re out in public and I have to nurse. It takes a little while to get the hang of it again. I just ordered this one from Amazon, and I was so thrilled to see it came in different colors. It’s definitely my style.
4. Regular tops for easy nursing access.
Like I said before, I got tired of having to order nursing shirts online, and they were super expensive. I just wanted regular shirts to nurse in. I had some criteria:
#1 I did not want to have to wear a nursing tank top underneath.
#2 I did not want to have to pull my shirts up and expose my belly to the world.
#3 I wanted elastic style necklines for easy pull down access.
I checked out thrift stores, Walmart, Target, Kohls, etc. to find shirts I could successfully nurse in. I looked for peasant style shirts, lace up style or shirts with ties that could open wider at the neckline for easy pull-down access. I also found smocked tops worked well as well as polyester shirts which were stretchy and low cut.
These are a few I’ve just ordered myself from Amazon to wear for nursing my new upcoming arrival. They all have easy ways to pull the top down to nurse.
The last thing I always keep with me when nursing in public is a soft diaper bag. Mamas with large breasts can have a hard time nursing in the cradle hold, especially when your baby is a tiny newborn. The football hold is much easier, and I find the football hold is much easier to nurse in public period. I always use my diaper bag propped on one leg to hold my baby up to my breast level for nursing in public. It doesn’t hurt my back and makes it so easy. Vera Bradley bags are always some of my favorite because they are quilted and plush, just like putting your baby on a pillow.
I truly keep all of these things with me when I’m breastfeeding my babies. It makes it so much easier to be successful. Do you have any breastfeeding items or tips you always follow?