Returning to work after your maternity leave can be difficult. And if you are still a breastfeeding mum, this can create added pressure to navigate. Where to express? Do you pop out during the day or have baby brought to you to feed? What are your options for work-friendly breastfeeding clothing? In this blog, Close to the Heart co-founder Jacqui Gage-Brown shares her thoughts on returning to work and breastfeeding.
With all three of my boys, I returned to work while I was still nursing them. Everyone has their own reasons for going back to work, and it's such an individual choice.
I would sometimes hear ladies say, “I’m lucky, I don’t have to go back to work.” It was hard hearing off-the-cuff remarks like that, they can cut deep. They aren’t said to be hurtful, but it does make you question your ability as a mum, and whether you have made the right choice or not. The truth was, I felt lucky! I got to have my babies and work. I got the best of both worlds.
I was at a different business each time I returned to work. From a male-dominated vehicle industry, where I needed to close the door to the small kitchen, close the blinds, and do a quick express, to having my own office where I could lock the door and pump or breastfeed in private.
Whatever the situation, as nursing mums will know, you need to be wearing clothes with quick and easy boob access! And if you are like me, your nursing clothes for around the house, probably aren't work appropriate.
Although I’d lock the door and barricade myself in, I always worried about sitting there half-naked and someone walking in! I have to admit to pumping and having work phone conversations though… I’m sure they couldn’t hear the click, click, click as I pumped away (well I hope they couldn’t!).
Breastfeeding clothing has come so far. We now have beautiful dresses with dome access, or hidden zips, that look just as stylish for wearing to the park, out for lunch or wearing to work and the discrete feeding access is a big point of focus for us at Close to the Heart.
Here's five simple tips for finding work-ready breastfeeding clothing
Look for stretchy and breathable fabric
My boobs would grow during the day as they got ready for pumping, so I needed fabric that stretched and moved with my body! My outfits also needed to breathe, as lactating made me much hotter than normal!
Invest in a good nursing bra!
Life is so much more comfortable with a good nursing bra, and this is especially important when you are at work for the day!
Keep your wardrobe simple
When I was shopping for work-friendly breastfeeding clothes, I decided to invest in wardrobe staples that I could mix and match, and layer up. My work wardrobe wasn't as exciting as it had been pre-kids - but it was affordable, versatile and functional, and that was the most important thing for me.
Swap with friends
Swapping breastfeeding clothes with friends who aren't currently feeding is a great way to mix up your wardrobe without breaking the bank!
Look for quick and easy breastfeeding access
These days there are so many options for breastfeeding access on clothes, from buttons to zips to flaps - so find a style that works for you. I always found zips much easier to manage, when you have a phone tucked under your ear and a breast pump in one hand!
Nursing clothing that is workplace-ready is now possible. And so is returning to work as a breastfeeding mum. Remember, you need to do what is right for you and your family. And remember, any expressed milk you leave in the work fridge should be clearly labeled!