Hurdles and How-To’s

To Normalize or Not to Normalize? Is What to Wear the Question?

Can what we wear actually help us to normalize pregnancy and breastfeeding? In my opinion, yes it can. Normalization is the process of saying everyone can do this, it is acceptable and understood in our culture. I think that for the most part pregnancy and breastfeeding is pretty normalized, however, I would never assume so and think that especially for certain types as moms such as someone visiting from another culture, a shy or sensitive mom, even a boisterous outspoken mom, or anyone who is somewhat of an outlier to society could probably benefit from a sense of normalization of pregnancy or breastfeeding. It can help Dad’s too. It can help society as a whole accept some of the ups and downs of pregnancy and breastfeeding so that we can all grow together and enjoy the process. At the same time, it is still important for people to accept differences and acknowledge unique personalities contributing to the process in their own unique way. It’s a little bit like getting dressed in the morning. We all know we have to wear clothes to leave the house but depending on what we are doing that day, how hot it is and how we are feeling we all accessorize with different clothes differently.

This morning when I left the house for my prenatal care appointment, I felt pretty good about what I was wearing, and it made a difference in my day because it was comfortable, practical and similar to what other people were wearing which happens to fit into my unique and stable beliefs. However, I also don’t feel this way every single day. Especially when I am pregnant or in the postpartum period…

What can moms do to feel good every day in every way possible without neccesarily spending a fortune on a new wardrobe when dressing as a pregnant person or a breastfeeding mom? They can revitalize the wardrobe they already have. I am not saying you can’t ever throw out clothes that don’t fit you anymore, but sometimes keeping a couple things around that may run a little large or a little small and repurposing them into a maternity style or breastfeeding outfit can be a beautiful way to feel gratitude in your mind, body or spirit, especially if it was an old outfit that meant a lot to you, that someone gave you, or just a piece of material that you really love. Take a look and see if you already have something that could work for you. I happen to love and treasure maternity fashion, the high empire waste lines, the stretchy but quality fabric and the panels that are woven together in a lacey synched fashion. It can be fun and different than everyday wear and also highlight the body and make us feel good about ourselves in a variety of functional ways. When I began to enter the postpartum period, I still had some maternity favorites that I continued to repurpose and wear because I loved the vibrant color or I still felt it looked pretty good on my body. And so the cycle continues…

Ultimately it was the joy and confidence I found in being a mom that helped me to normalize it for myself and hopefully a few others.

With breastfeeding there are also lots of options. Some people prefer a modest look with a slit on the side, other prefer a double layer, some like to slip under others prefer to unbutton and others like to pull down and pop out. Some throw a modest layer over the top which can also help the baby to soothe and enjoy playing peekaboo with mama. As a mom, I had trouble getting my baby to even latch in a public place in the first four months due to positioning issues and over stimulation. I hope this will go better for me this time around. I hope it will go well for other mothers and babies in their feeding situation. What you wear can affect your confidence, but I would also like to acknowledge that as you go about breastfeeding and letting it teach you to be a better mom in all sorts of ways, it doesn’t matter so much what you wear, and that is part of the normalization process. Ultimately it was the joy and confidence I found in being a mom that helped me to normalize it for myself and hopefully a few others. I remember one day reading online the comment of “are you a pull up or pull down person?” and thinking to myself happily how I like how that person took it so lightly and also acknowledged that people have all sorts of differences and that matters in some ways in not of others. Clothes certainly aren’t the be all, end all when it comes to normalizing pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, but I say, if it makes it more fun… then hopefully you can go for it, whether it is buying an outfit you really love, or repurposing something you already have with a sense of gratitude. Both ways are powerful, and hopefully all will win!

By Megan

I am a mother of two, an RN, an IBCLC, and a spiritually minded, caring person. Here I am now, writing about my journey, my faith and trust in breastfeeding in hopes that it will help you along with yours...