Vintage Style for Nursing Mommas


vintage breastfeeding mother- breastfeeding fashion tips via va-voom vintage

While this post probably doesn't pertain to many of my readers, I want to post about it anyway since "boob access" is something I have to consider every day and I haven't found much info on the subject.

Since the turn of the century, many women switched from the breast to the bottle, making nursing (and nursing clothing) much harder to come by. My grandma gave birth to my mom in the 1960's and in the hospital, she was told that she was not allowed to breastfeed.

When visiting my great grandma (who had her children during the 1940's), I slip into a back room or corner to feed Olivia but when I return, she always seems curious about the topic because she also bottle fed her babies. By 1956, only 20% of babies in the US were breastfed. So, if you ever come across a vintage nursing bra, you can imagine how rare they are!

vintage breastfeeding mother- breastfeeding fashion tips via va-voom vintage

When I bought my first few vintage dresses, I was having so much fun shopping that the thought of easy access never crossed my mind. It wasn't until I was getting ready one morning and I heard the hungry call that I considered the fact that I'd have to pull my dress up over my head if I want to be able to feed Olivia!

vintage breastfeeding mother- breastfeeding fashion tips via va-voom vintage

The Nursing Momma's Top 5 Vintage Staples:
1.) Camisoles- this goes for any nursing momma, really. Layering is a girl's best friend. With a camisole under a t-shirt, button-up shirt or cardigan, it allows for more modesty and gives one more layer to protect your vintage garment from leaks.

2.) Cardigans, suit jackets- Think dark colors or bold patterns when it comes to cardigans. Should the worst happen and you have a little leak, a cardigan can help conceal the wetness until you can get to a bathroom (or home) to fix the situation.

3.) Zippers and buttons on tops and dresses- Shirtwaist dresses and button front blouses are best choices. When you buy a vintage item, re-stitch the buttons and make sure that you don't have a sticky zipper. Since nursing mothers use buttons/zippers more than most, it is vital that they are in good working order.

 If you have a bad zipper, you can replace it with a new one. There's nothing worse than sitting in a cramped car trying to feed your screaming kid and your zipper sticks or you lose a button somewhere. I've been there!

4.) Wide scarves or wraps- Not everyone nurses when you're out and about but if you do, a wide scarf around your neck or chic wrap makes a fashionable (and less obvious) nursing cover. To me, there's nothing that screams "My boob is hanging out over here" like a pastel baby blanket or obvious nursing cover draped over the shoulder.

5.) heavy flow nursing pads- regardless of your milk supply, always wear heavy flow nursing pads when wearing a vintage piece. Vintage items aren't generally the wash n' wear type so you want to protect them as much as possible from leaks. When purchasing nursing pads, make sure the box says "for heavy flow". Johnson's makes a great, contoured nursing pad that isn't too thick.

Nursing Momma's 5 Vintage Dont's
1.) White anything- unless you're in a wet t-shirt contest that day, just say no to white!

2.) full slips under dresses- Most full slips are silk or satin and don't allow for easy access so unless it stretches a lot, it's best to reserve it for the boudoir.

3.) Zippers or buttons in the back- I love those back zipper or button-up back dresses. They're so elegant but they just aren't a good plan for nursing moms unless you're a yoga instructor

4.) Sheer fabrics- When wet, sheers cling to you, so if you're brave enough to wear sheers, try it with a cami and nursing pads underneath.

5.)Dreses with no front closure- Again, I love them but getting completely undressed to feed a baby every 3 hours isn't practical. If you have a dress that you really love but it doesn't have a front opening, you can add a zipper or save it for when you're done with nursing.
Good luck, mommas!


  1. Really informative! I've seen vintage maternity dresses from the 30s and 40s but you're totally right about the rarity of nursing-friendly vintage from these decades. That first photo is just gorgeous, btw!

  2. I love that photo too! What a gorgeous momma!

  3. What a brilliant post. I love the images and your tips are fabulous.I've really missed wearing dresses while I've been nursing. Now that my son is weaned and only has milk feeds 2-3 times a day I'm starting to venture back to that end of my wardrobe.


  4. "If your kid is eating - I approve!"
    LOL - love it. :)

  5. Thank you!As a breastfeeding mama who loves vintage I feel your pain about having to plan clothing around "easy access" to my breasts

  6. Brittany I really like you, it's a shame that we live scattered across the world - we could be good friends!
    I love how you have practically EVERYTHING on your blog - all one wants!

    I am one of the hardcore nursing mummies and I often wonder how I'd do it with another child. Combining outfits clevery wouldn't be the problem, but I think the genuine vintage I'd leave for later. Too precious. Yesterday I stood at playgroup watching my son cake himself in flour, water and soil - ofc I got some of it too down my trousers. Genuine vintage wouldn't go down well at messy play :-)

    Beautiful pics - I had to share this post with my La Leche League buddies on Facebook!

  7. lovely entry. I also recommend the disposable nursing pads (I used Lansinoh's) -- it's AMAZING how much of an accidental letdown they can contain, which was important to me at work, in my silky blouses. I did wear my shirtwaist while nursing, too, though I went with the baby-blanket-as-accessory look when needed, cute scarves being beyond my skill level :). I love your disclaimer, I'm in favor of fed and happy babies too.


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