Before I got pregnant, I swore that I wouldn’t buy special clothes for pregnancy and postpartum. After all, it was only a short season of my life, why should I spend the money on that? Then, I realized that this was the only time in my life I could truly, shamelessly, shop the pregnant lady section of the internet and stores and thought I should take advantage of that. On top of that, I realized that postpartum life had its own special needs, and my go-to wardrobe staples of knit pullover shirts and blouses just didn’t quite fit those needs anymore. Namely, I wanted to pump at work without having to completely undress and take my top off and sit half naked in a room where I may or may not get inadvertently walked in on. My workplace does not have a dedicated pump space, so, yay! After a bit of trial and error, I got my perfect formula down for dressing for work while pumping for baby.
The Base Layer
Although a great hands-free pumping bra is essential for pumping and for work, sometimes I didn’t want to lug that thing around and zip it on and off for every pump session. Sometimes I just wanted a bra I could wear all day that would also double as a pumping bra. These are surprisingly hard to find, and some of the ones out there can be especially expensive (think $60 or so!). Luckily, after some trial and error, I found a few on Amazon that area really comfortable and work really well.
This Momcozy nursing/pumping bra is my favorite. The “upgraded” version is made of a soft bamboo that is really easy to wear all day long. It clips down for nursing access, and it has a clever design which also allows it to hold pumping flanges in place.
I only wish that it came in more colors other than black though, for the times I like to wear light colored tops.
An alternative base layer is a camisole with built-in bra. These are definitely my favorite camisoles, from Nom Maternity.
These also double as a maternity tank as they are long and stretchy and fit perfectly over the baby bump. They have a double layer over the bust. Unclip the first layer to reveal the pump-flange-holding layer. Unclip that layer for complete nursing access. They are soft and wear well in the laundry. I sized down as I wanted the flanges to fit tightly and I’m very happy with the fit. And, bonus, there is a nude-colored version too for wearing under light colored tops.
I quickly realized that pullover tops and blouses as well as dresses just didn’t work well with pumping. I would have to hike up the dress all the way, exposing most of my body, or hike up or remove my top and expose my torso while pumping. If I was wearing a pumping tank underneath it (like the Nom Maternity one above), this was less of a problem with the pullovers but it was still annoying. I needed shirts with a lot of front access.
Actually, any button-down shirt works well for work and pumping access. I can just unbutton the front and attach the pump flanges without taking everything off. My current favorites are from Grayson.
I tend to prefer to wear knit things though, because they are comfortable and wash-and-wear with no worry of needing to iron.
I love this knit button down shirt – it’s as soft as a t-shirt but still looks okay as a button down. And, what’s rare in a white button down shirt, it’s not transparent! Total win.
Half Button-Down Shirts
The half-button-down shirt, also known as a popover, has buttons just halfway down the front. I find that they provide pretty good pumping access as well. These nursing shirts from Nom Maternity are an absolute wardrobe staple and my favorite go-to right now.
They come in a lot of different colors and prints, and can be dressed up for work or down for the weekend with the roll up sleeves. They are silky soft and wash up well. Love!
A couple cheaper options for knit pullover blouses can be found on Amazon as well.
The functional front buttons make for easy nursing and pumping access, and they flow in a flattering way to disguise any postpartum lumps and bumps. I have these in white and black and they look great under blazers, etc.
Tops that wrap and drape in the front are another good option. They are also especially flattering for covering up the postpartum bump as well. My favorite maternity wear shop, Pinkblush, makes a ton of really cute ones that are reasonably priced. I either wear them over a cami or sew in a little snap button myself at the top to keep them closed.
Toppers, Pants: Wear What You Normally Wear
I wear a white coat to work so I rarely get to wear blazers or cardigans, but there’s nothing inherently special needs about these items for postpartum. Wear what you will.
For pants, I’m partial to Dress Pants Yoga Pants from Betabrand because they are just so dang comfortable. They really are yoga pants masquerading as dress pants.
Go Forth, Pumping Working Mama!
Hopefully that’s a helpful list of some key pieces that can be the cornerstones of a wardrobe for a pumping working mama. My formula is now some kind of button down, half button down, or surplice top over dress pants yoga pants, plus or minus a pumping bra or cami underneath.