What makes breastfeeding clothes special?

by Bailey Bouwman

Nest & Sprout is proud to carry many incredible breastfeeding friendly clothing options for Canadian families. As a Northern BC Business, we work with vendors around the world to bring you the best nursing clothes for you and your family. We even have one of the biggest selections of breastfeeding bras in Western Canada.

What is breastfeeding friendly clothing?

Breastfeeding clothes, or nursing clothes, are clothes designed for easy access to the breasts to facilitate breastfeeding. That’s really the simplest way to put it, but there is more than access – breastfeeding clothing is often designed to fit changing bodies and offer comfort from pregnancy through postpartum.

Additionally, breastfeeding clothes are looser fitting in the breast area as your bust may change a few sizes during the day, or post-partum period. They are often made of a soft and stretchy material to reduce compression and improve support for your body. These are clothes designed for you with recognition of your new role in life – mama.

Why should you consider breastfeeding clothes?

The biggest reason to consider breastfeeding clothes is comfort. Many parents find nursing shirts or dresses to be more comfortable use and access. They give full coverage comfort without having to feel naked or undressed. No longer do you need to expose your midsection, back, side boob, or undress to breastfeed.

The other reason many parents choose nursing clothing is because they don't want to stretch out their existing clothes. Sure, you can pull and tug on almost any neckline to get breast access, but after a while the shirt will begin to shift, and maybe you don't want to do that to your favourite dress. Maybe you want something that is easily accessible for this stage in your life.

Many clothes designed for pregnancy are also designed for nursing babies and postpartum. When you consider what essentials to add to your maternity wardrobe, consider if those items will be adaptable to breastfeeding. 

Clothes designed to support breastfeeding provide easy access for nursing or pumping. This includes adjustable necklines, zipper openings, peek-a-boo flaps, and clips for snapping down. These access points ensure that clothing can be moved out of the way, without damaging the item. 

Key Features to Breastfeeding-Friendly Clothes

  • easy breast access (zipper, flap, or other opening)
  • discreet access that doesn't damage clothing
  • full coverage fit and function for postpartum bodies
  • stretch and comfort


How do Breastfeeding Shirts Work?

Breastfeeding shirts, or dresses work by providing access to the breast. This is done through a few main styles of access including lift up, pull to the side, snap down, and zipper access. We’ve outlined more about each style, and a few examples below.

Breastfeeding Shirt Style: Clip Access

The clip access is most common in tank tops and nursing bras, snaps are added to the bottom of the straps that allow you to detach the shirt from the strap and provide access to the breast. There are some brands that offer shoulder snaps, and other zippered variations including buttons and clips.

Breastfeeding Shirt Style: Side Seam Access

Side Seam Access is popular in nursing brands such as Nuture Elle, provide a side seam access to provide an opening. Shirts are designed to be able to pull apart and easily access the breast. These shirts allow for a full coverage feeding access, and often have additional fabric layers to ensure everything stays together when not in use. 

Breastfeeding Shirt Style: Zipper Access

Some shirts have hidden openings that are kept close with a zipper. These zippers can be opened to provide access, and often feature low-profile zippers that are discrete. These zippers may run horizontal, diagnol, or even be hidden into the side seams. We are seeing more and more zipper style nursing tops come to the market from brands like Cadenshae, Nine Clothing, and Seraphine

Breastfeeding Shirt Style: Pull to the Side

Otherwise known as a V-Neck – Designed with extra rouching and material, a v-neckline is often used in nursing clothing to allow you to easily move the fabric aside and provide access to the breast. This is a great style to look for in regular clothing, but nursing-specific styles will be designed to ensure there is enough access and room in the pull of the shirt.  This is really popular in Hello Miz Nursing friendly dresses. 

You might find this in zipper and button up tops. 

Breastfeeding Shirt Style: Upper Shelf Access

Made popular by brands like Momzelle, the shelf access shirt has an upper portion that cuts off below the breast, and a lower portion that creates a flap. This flap provides an opening for you to lift one up, and pull one down to access your breasts. These can be a great easy way to access your shirts. This style is continued by many brands including Ripe Maternity

Breastfeeding Shirt Style: other variations

Other variations include multiple panels, combinations of the above, and sometimes snap variations. Sometimes, like with Cadenshae, nursing access is made possible through the arm hole of the shirt. Sometimes, a brand does a tulip or petal style cut in the bottom to give you a little more tummy coverage.

Every brand makes a different variation that best suits the style of clothing. You’ll probably find a style that works best for you and feels most comfortable as a reflection of who you are.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Breastfeeding Clothing

Do I need to buy breastfeeding clothing?

You can wear normal every-day clothes for your breastfeeding journey – but you may find that items stretch, don’t move the same, or lack the comfort you are looking for.  

Like this is a dress that I bought from a local big box store. The neckline is stretch enough that I was able to pull out my breast to nurse. You don't need to buy nursing friendly clothes, you just need to find the right necklines, and tops. I did eventually destroy the neckline on this dress... so I did retire it after a few years of feeding my babies - Bailey. 
Special clothes for breastfeeding are not a necessity, but rather a nice to-have if your budget allows for the splurge.

You might find that having a few pieces in your collection for special events, outings, and doctor appointments gives you that comfort when out and about. Whereas at home, you can continue to wear what you love, and strip down as needed to feed baby. 

What is the two shirt method?

Many parents find the two-shirt method is a great choice for breastfeeding. A simple tank top, often a nursing tank with snaps, is paired with your favourite top.

To breastfeed, the top shirt is pulled up and the bottom shirt or nursing tank is pulled down to give access. This allows you to remain covered, wear your existing clothes, and improves longevity of your clothing.


Nest & Sprout Maternity's Special Touch

At Nest & Sprout it’s important to me that you find the perfect fit and are happy with your purchase. If it doesn’t fit, return or exchange the item for one you love.

I spend lots of time selecting styles and designs that will still fit and flatter you well after pregnancy. That stretch and ruching that grew with your beautiful bump, will also shrink with you. It’s unlikely you will hop back in to your pre-pregnancy clothes the week after baby. No one but you (maybe your partner) is going to know you are rocking those maternity clothes months after baby while your body settles and shifts back to normal… whatever normal is.

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