the pumping mother: what to wear to work

by Lisa Boettcher

You’re back from maternity leave and therefore you’re ditching your yoga pants and momiform to return to your professional wardrobe. Can you wear the same clothing you did before? After all, you do have a new set of assets that need not be shown off. And, you do somehow need to look professional and pulled together after sleepless nights. Plus, you need to pump at work without having to undress to a level of discomfort. So then, what are the best clothes for a pumping mother in an office setting?

·      Comfortable clothing. This may seem like a no-brainer, but think about your comfort level when you have to pump. If you wear that seemingly comfortable dress that zips up the back, will you really still be comfortable unzipping and undressing during each pumping break?

Two-piece ensembles typically have provided me with the most comfort and flexibility. I do always wear a camisole under my tops because that also provides comfort and protection of my midsection if I’m raising a shirt up to my neckline to pump. Also think comfort and coverage for your new assets. Avoid anything with a deep V neckline or too low cut.

To make dressing easy, look to new companies made for breastfeeding moms that meld style and easy (think side zippers!), such as Loyal Hana.

Final tip here – wear machine washable clothing. The last thing you want is to have to dry clean constantly after a few drips or heaven forbid, spills.

·      The right bra. Confession: I did not wear nursing bras with my second baby. I hate nursing bras, so while I want to entirely recommend wearing them to work because it really does make pumping easier while giving your girls the right support, I will rather suggest wearing the right bra for you. I have been able to manage both nursing and pumping with a t-shirt bra variety that lends itself lots of flexibility and bending without destroying the integrity or support of the bra itself.

·      Hands free support. Investing in a hands free bustier may be exactly what you need to get through your pumping breaks. You won’t want to wear this to work, but have it available with your supplies for your session breaks.

·      Protective gear. Wearing nursing pads can protect you from some office pumping mishaps. The last thing you want to happen is return to your desk (or be sitting at your desk) with proof of leakage dripping all over you. While not every woman has an issue with leaking breasts, and some only do in the beginning stages of breastfeeding, it could still happen. Think: A missed pumping session due to a demanding work schedule or over extended meeting.

You may choose to plan ahead and have an extra shirt or outfit kept at the office, available for any unfortunate circumstances that may arise. I also opt to leave an extra set of nursing pads in my pumping supplies for those days that I just may feel I need the protection.

·      A towel. No, I am not suggesting you wear a towel to work, but I am suggesting you protect yourself while pumping. I have this skirt that is a material that looks like it is wet if you spill anything on it -- even after that drip is completely dried. It sticks out like a sore thumb. If you drape a towel over your lap when you’re pumping, you’re easily protecting your wardrobe for the remainder of the workday.

Please tell me I’m not the only one that thinks pumping can be a messy sport. This is a simple and easy piece to add to your supplies. You can just leave it at your office, no need to carry back and forth, unless you have a major spill that requires it to be washed. (But really, fingers crossed you never spill that liquid gold!)

·      Optional: Nursing cover. If you are in a not-so-private location while pumping at work, you may opt to invest in a cover that provides you with that privacy. I prefer a nursing cover that has some structure to it, therefore I can see what’s going on below whether pumping (or nursing). Even though I typically have very private locations to pump while in the office, the extra coverage is never a bad thing when the door does not lock.

You may feel some wardrobe restrictions as you transition from those yoga pants back to business pants, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Just think it through a little and find a new style that provides the comfort, support and access you need. The role of a working, pumping mother is no joke. You plan, prep, adjust and roll with the punches in every sense of those words.

You working, pumping mothers are awesome -- giving yourself and your time to your babies in such a beautiful way. Keep on, stylish mamas.

Lisa Boettcher is a Wisconsinite, residing in a small suburb outside of Milwaukee with her husband Mark, daughters Maven (04.04.14) and Sylvie (10.28.15) and blonde Goldendoodle pup, Nova. She’s madly in love with her family and is passionate about living a happy, healthy life. She writes over at In Wild Hearts for women who juggle the demands and desires of every day life and want to make the absolute most of it by sharing real, genuine content inspired by her world.