Thanks for hopping over from Mummies Waiting, and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt - Day 3: Dress to Impress.
Sponsors today include Milk and Mummy, with a £50 voucher; Lorna Drew Maternity, who are offering a beautiful set of nursing lingerie; and Mummy Makes Milk; who is offering a signed copy of her beautiful book for our Grand Prize winner.
Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs. Entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
Finding attractive breastfeeding clothes that don't cost a small fortune is difficult. Add in being plus sized, and it becomes an even greater challenge. When I first got pregnant with B, at the end of 2010, I was surprised to discover that Evans, the leading plus sized women's fashion retailer, does not have a maternity range. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised - I had long been aware that larger ladies aren't expected to live like "normal" sized ladies. Despite the average woman in the UK being a size 16, many fashion ranges don't go above that. Some don't even include it at all. And many plus ranges don't have maternity lines, or are only available online. I had my wedding dress made especially for me, because there were no larger sized wedding dresses to try on in bridal shops. Because, of course, who would want to marry a fat lady?! And if that idea is unthinkable, then logically there should be no need to create maternity wear for larger ladies, because that would mean men actually want to have sex with fatties! Gross, right? Well, fashion industry, a little news for you - larger ladies are just the same as smaller ladies, and as those in between. We have those life changing moments too.
Things were a bit better in 2013, when I was pregnant with M. I found a few online stores that sold plus sized maternity clothes, and even managed to get a few items from Next, whose sizes go a little higher than other high street stores. Again though, I discovered that I could only find stuff online. I lost quite a bit of weight when I was pregnant, so I had no idea what size I was, and would have found it much easier to try things on before buying them. And I was even more annoyed that Evans still didn't have a maternity range.
But what has maternity clothing got to do with breastfeeding? The majority of tops and dresses made with specific breastfeeding access are maternity wear. I'm in the minority when it comes to breastfeeding through pregnancy - it's not something lots and lots of women do. For most women the pregnancy is over when the breastfeeding begins. Perhaps for the first weeks maternity wear is nice - comfortable, roomy, forgiving - but when our tummies (ok, not mine so much!!) get a bit of tone back and we start to feel a bit more human, we want to wear normal, not-pregnant clothes again. And if you're trying to convince people that the tummy is all yours and not full of baby again, then wearing a maternity top isn't going to help. So, that's a problem for the acceptably sized breastfeeding mums, but remember what I said at the beginning - plus sized maternity wear is hard to find in the first place, let alone plus sized maternity wear with easy boob access!
Specific nursing wear isn't compulsory, or even entirely necessary. Not that that makes it any more acceptable that fashion retailers don't cater for us. But there are ways around the problems. If your top has a stretchy or low cut neck then it's easy to pull a breast over the top. That was never my preferred method, but recently I've started doing it, and it wasn't as worrying as I thought it would be! You can pull your top up instead, which provides breast coverage, but opens your tummy up for viewing. Again, not my cup of tea. However, that method is vastly improved by the two-tops manoeuvre. Wear a vest top under your top and you can pull one up and the other down, keeping everything but a sliver of boob covered, and that will be camouflaged by your baby, so practically no one will be any the wiser! The Feed Me Mummy vest is brilliant under dresses and low cut tops. It has a split across the middle, allowing a small portion to be pulled up. Crop tops work in a similar way, but obviously without the tummy coverage.
When it comes to breastfeeding clothes, I've found some good stuff on Ebay - the more expensive brands can be found quite cheaply. And I found my H&M breastfeeding tshirts to be really useful. They have a cross over front, with an under panel that lifts up. When I was using the SNS with M, I worked out that I could tuck it under the panel and I had my hands free to help her latch onto the tube.
There is a fantastic group on Facebook: Can I Breastfeed In It? UK, where you'll find thousands of breastfeeding mums sharing mainstream clothing that it's easy to breastfeed in. They're taking part in the Scavenger Hunt too, so hop on over to the next blog (link at the end of this post) and you may well find an incredibly helpful post on the topic!
Now enter the competition on the Rafflecopter below:
You can find some more ideas on Dressing to Impress over on Can I Breastfeed In It?, along with another chance to gain some extra entry points to our grand prize giveaway.
Check out My Thoughts on Things on Facebook.