Different types of breastfeeding clothing includes breastfeeding dresses, tops, and robes. Bras, shawls, and nightgowns designed for breastfeeding are also available. Women who wish to breastfeed their children discreetly and comfortably may find these clothing items necessary to their ability to breastfeed while going about their daily business and having their fair share in public life. Some designers incorporate breastfeeding features into maternity clothing, making the purchase of breastfeeding clothing more economical than if a woman had to buy two separate wardrobes for pregnancy and the post-partum period.
For many breastfeeding women, the most essential piece of breastfeeding clothing is the maternity or breastfeeding bra. These bras feature a drop-down panel over the front of the cup, which provides an easy way for a woman to open the cup so that her baby has access to her nipple. Many women also prefer a very supportive bra, as their breasts often become much heavier and larger than they are used to during the first few weeks after giving birth. For these women, many companies make cotton nighttime nursing bras, which provide some support at night without the use of uncomfortable wires, molding, or extra seams. Many women also appreciate nightgowns and robes with nursing panels so as to make nighttime feeding easy.
Breastfeeding clothing for daytime ranges from casual to formal. In some cases, breastfeeding tops, blouses, and dresses include special panels on their fronts that allow access to the breast, while others utilize a wrap design that makes it easy for women to remove a breast so that they can feed their baby. Many ranges of maternity and breastfeeding clothing deliberately include design elements that allow women to continue wearing the garment after pregnancy. These design elements include an empire waist and wrap bodices, both of which can accommodate an expanding or shrinking belly and allow for the insertion of discrete nursing panels or access to the breast.
Breastfeeding swim and exercise wear is also available and may either contain nursing panels or drop-down panels for nursing while at the beach or exercising. Other nursing clothing options include wearing shawls and wraps that can cover the breast while nursing. Some baby slings include extra cloth that can be loosened or raised during nursing to provide additional coverage. These slings offer the added advantage of holding the baby so that he has access to the breast and can nurse at will, while his mother can keep her hands free for other work.