Breastfeeding-specific clothes are hard to come by on a budget unless you’re lucky enough to snag some fancy brands second hand. Decent quality nursing tops can set you back fifty bucks a piece and sometimes even more. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of spending reserved for special occasion wear and I’m absolutely loathe to shell out that much money for everyday wear that is bound to be exposed to dangerous, clothes splattering substances such as finger paint, play dough, food colouring, yoghurt, snot….and….you know, all that kind of stuff.

Big chain stores like K-Mart, Target and Big W do carry some basic breastfeeding tops. Pumpkin Patch has some too. But here’s where I’ve been hitting walls lately- for some time now, all the breastfeeding tops and dresses I have seen that these stores have stocked are also maternity wear. I’m not freaking pregnant! I’m breastfeeding! It’s not the same! I don’t necessarily need or want a billowing drape over my tummy. I don’t want those gathered, elasticky sides that stretch over your bump. I mean, I already have a tummy and some weight to lose- the last thing I want to do is encourage people to ask when I’m due- it’s happened at least once before and while I felt kinda awkward saying “Um no… I’m not pregnant, I’m just a little bit fat…” I could tell the person who asked felt a lot worse than I did!

There are, in my repertoire, three main methods of feeding- either over the top (OTT) where you pop a breast out and over the neckline of your top to feed, below the hem (BTH) where you sort of yank your top up to free a breast underneath it to feed or (and this one is reserved for custom nursing wear) out of the special concealed gap or hole tucked discretely away in the folds of the top (OOTSCGOH)- I don’t recommend trying to make your own OOTSCGOH type breastfeeding top!

So here are my tips for breastfeeding while wearing clothes. Seems like a no-brainer but in all honesty- I was forever marching up to unsuspecting sales staff and saying things like “I need tops that let me get my boobs out super fast- what have you got that does that?” so I thought a simple list might help a boob-noob to buy a few bits and pieces that will work for them without having to break the bank.

1- Singlets.

Singlets are THE foundation garment for the breastfeeding mum, in my humble opinion. You can opt for the Bonds breastfeeding singlet (it has a built in bra shelf and little snaps like on your maternity bra to open each side for easy feeding) that will set you back about $30 or so, look for a generic version at somewhere like Big W (much cheaper) or just buy basic thin strapped singlet tops. If you’re crafty, you can modify a basic singlet with minimal effort like this. If you’re not (I’m assuredly not) you will find that a good stretchy singlet is pretty forgiving when it comes to the OTT method. 

2- Layering.

The humble basic singlet works well with layering if you don’t like exposing your tummy to the cold. Simply wear a singlet under whatever top or tee you like. Yank the top up like you would for a BTH feed, then yank the singlet down as you would for an OTT feed and away you go.

3- Low cut V necks.

Sounds simple but a stretchy, low cut V neck is perfect for breastfeeding. If you aren’t a fan of showing off the merchandise, you can always use the layered method with a singlet or even repurpose your belly band as a kind of boob tube thingy then do a kind of double OTT manoeuvre- latch on your babe and again, away you go!

4- Light cardigans.

K-Mart make these really cheap, floaty, thin, drapey cardigans. Over a singlet, you have a perfect breastfeeding ensemble. The drapey cardi is light enough to use as a nursing cover, should you desire one (I don’t- but if you do- enjoy!) and is also nice to wrap lightly around your little one as you cuddle up and breastfeed. I’m sure you can get them elsewhere too.

5- Wrap dresses.

Got an occasion to go to? Wrap dresses are your best friend. They look lovely on just about every body shape, the drapery is very forgiving if you need or want that in a frock (I often look for that in clothing, it seems), flattering and these things are just about made for the OTT method! 

6- Button up shirts.

These can be as exciting or as simple as you like. From the humble flanno to a silky, spangled number- so long as it has buttons all the way up or down, it’s easy to feed in. Pop the required number of buttons open and you’re in business.

7- Maxi-dresses.

I have several low necked numbers, a strapless one and a couple with stretchy, low-ish necklines great for the old OTT method. Caution- when wearing strapless it can be hard to pop just the one boob out. Something about the strapless style means the other boob might get lonely and pop out to see what all the fuss is about. Just a heads-up.

My feeding in public style is pretty well as follows- hold squirmy toddler at chest level, utilise a well-practised OTT manoeuvre and feed. That’s it. I do find scarves are good- you can use them to cover up if you want to but for us, they’re a focal point and work like breastfeeding necklaces (also a great idea!) – something to focus on and fiddle with while feeding. I know for us that there have been periods of extreme distractibility so anything that held her attention for long enough to get her tummy full without any sudden-distraction related injuries (aka The dreaded Niplash) was more than okay by me!

It’s still worth checking out stores that specialise in nursing clothes, like Mamaway or Nursing Angel  for special outfits or, you know outfits on special (my personal absolute favourite kind).

Happy shopping!

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Today, I read an article about a mother ejected from Granville RSL Club for breastfeeding her 2 month old infant in the lounge area. Naturally, management of this club have claimed that no one remembers this incident occurring and have suggested that the mother, Mrs Chan, somehow misunderstood what was said to her.

I understand this is a case of “We didn’t say that, no one remembers saying that, but if we did say something (that we can’t remember saying) it wasn’t that, she misunderstood” 


This would be a good opportunity for the club to educate all staff about the legal rights of breastfeeding mothers, especially considering the family-oriented facilities offered by such clubs- think kid’s menus complete with crayons and colouring in sheets, highchairs, baby change facilities and play areas.

The article states that this was Mrs Chan’s first experience of breastfeeding in a public place and I’m so disgusted that this has been done to her. I truly hope it doesn’t impede her from feeding wherever she needs to in future. See how I phrased that? Wherever she needs to. Mothers don’t breastfeed their babies for the hell of it. You feed a baby because they are hungry and need to be fed. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies because it is easily digested as well as being full of appropriate nutrients and antibodies. Because it’s so easily digested, and their stomachs are so tiny, they need to be fed often. At 2 months old, my daughter was still feeding every hour or two. If I couldn’t feed in public, I couldn’t leave the house. I imagine Mrs Chan is in a similar position.

Reading the comments on this article, it was disappointing to note that there are still people out there who feel their sensibilities are more important than the needs of a baby. Calls for mothers to consider how random strangers might feel seeing them feed their children, to express and only bottle feed in public, to feed babies in toilets or to simply remain home until the child is weaned. Yet again, I’ll address these.

If you are uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeed a child:

You are likely a victim of what the media and pop culture in general has done with our perceptions of women’s bodies. Breasts are constantly sexualised. Breasts are on display to sell products, clothes, food. Sex sells and yet again, there is a price and in this case, the normal act of feeding a baby is now seen as sexual and therefore wrong (One commenter even phrased it as sucking on the mother’s naked body!) Is this your fault? No, not really. Sexualised advertising is everywhere. However, this is your issue. It’s not up to the nursing mother to make you feel comfortable with how she feeds her child, whether it’s breast, bottle or whatever. She has no obligation to consider what a stranger may think or feel about what she is doing. What she is doing is perfectly natural and protected by state and federal law. Therefore, the solution is a simple one. Stop looking. Move away. Carry on with your life. You don’t actually have to be comfortable or happy with the way a woman feeds her child as frankly, it’s none of your business.

If you think mothers should express and bottle feed for your comfort:

See above. Also, just a little bit of information for you. Did you know that some breastfed babies never take a bottle? They don’t like them, they don’t want them and they just won’t budge on that. And introducing bottles early to the breastfed baby can cause other problems like nipple confusion and poor latch.

Expressing doesn’t work for everyone. A mother can have plenty of milk and still struggle to express more than a few mls. I know, because I am one of them. I own 2 manual pump and 3 different electric pumps. I have learned to hand express. I have tried every technique there is and I cannot express more than about 40mls. Even that can take up to 30 minutes to do. Why? Because a pump is not my baby. Mechanically, it’s not just a matter of suction. A baby is far more efficient at extracting milk that a plastic shield, for one thing. The other factor is hormonal. For a milk letdown to occur, the mother’s body releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and bonding.

I don’t love my breast pumps. I don’t feel a powerful bond with them either.

So to all the “Just express a bottle!” crowd, I say this- No. Not only do I not have to, I can’t.

To those wondering why mothers don’t simply breastfeed in the toilets:

Seriously? Do I even have to ask the question? Judging by what I’ve read, I guess I do.

Do you ever eat your meals in the toilets?


I’ve known and seen some people with some seriously questionable table manners. I’m talking grown adults who chew with their mouths open and talk with their mouths full and have bits of food spraying everywhere. Seeing someone eat like that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I find it off putting. So I don’t look. I don’t insist they take their meals perched on a toilet seat.

For those of you who think a mother should stay home until the child is weaned:

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. Who can stay home for 2 years? Who wants to? No matter how long you choose to breastfeed, this should not (and legally does not) preclude you from being an active member of society. To say that a woman should not enjoy a meal at a club, go shopping, go for a swim at the local pool or a walk at the park because she might need to feed her baby is ridiculous and discriminatory. Why should a woman stay home, potentially for years, in case she offends someone by feeding her child? Mums who feed in public are inadvertently doing a community service- they are helping to normalise breast feeding by making it commonplace.

However you choose to feed, covered or uncovered, in a private room or in the open, via bottle or breast- do it because it works for you. Don’t do it because some narrow minded, ignorant people are trying to shame you into feeding your baby in a way that suits them. It’s your right to feed your baby wherever you need to. And if you are discriminated against- take it further. Don’t accept it. It’s not acceptable and it’s not legal. There is information about lodging complaints here.

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The election has come and gone, leaving the Liberal Coalition in power. Since then, PM Abbott and co have formed an interesting cabinet, removing key portfolios, amalgamating others and forming the new and dubiously titled “Border Protection” one- but that is a whole other post.
This cabinet contains exactly one woman. Other parties and governments around the world manage to include more females. Is it that there are no other women qualified for this position within the Liberal Party? I can think of a few off the top of my head so surely this is not the case. Suffice to say, this cabinet is hardly representative of the community it would govern and this is a real shame, and an embarrassment.

Even Lord Voldemort’s “cabinet” had more women than Abbott’s cabinet.

Tony Abbott himself has taken on the portfolio of Women’s Issues. I am sorry to say it, but almost anyone would be better qualified. A vagina is certainly not essential to the position, though it would be an excellent start. PM Abbott has proved himself, over and over, to be out of touch with Australian women. The following quotes from the man himself speak volumes on their own:

What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up.Sydney Morning Herald (February 9, 2010)
I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.– Quoted in “FOUR CORNERS” on (15/03/2010)
The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.- Quoted in [1] “RATE OF ABORTION HIGHLIGHTS OUR MORAL FAILINGS” on (Wednesday, 17 March 2004)]
I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.- Panel discussion “Religion, Sex and Politics” on (19 March 2009)
Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.– Quoted in “Rate of abortion high-lights our moral failings” on (17 March 2004)
I think I would say to my daughters if they were to ask me this question… it [their virginity] is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don’t give it to someone lightly, that’s what I would say.– Quoted in “Hypocrite Abbott panned for Virginity Stance” (27 Jan 2010)
While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework– Quoted in “Rudd hands PM a crucial lifeline” (6 August 2010)
I want to make it clear that I do not judge or condemn any woman who has had an abortion, but every abortion is a tragedy and up to 100,000 abortions a year is this generation’s legacy of unutterable shame.- Abbott to parliament in February 2006 (Four corners transcript of speech)

Got all that, ladies? Your power bills are up because you have to iron- it’s inevitable. Try to understand that. It’s not Tony Abbott’s fault.
Also, you just don’t have the aptitude and ability that men do. That means you are dumber and less useful. Feeling like a valued member of society yet? You should. We need more physios and housewives like you!
Sex is not yours to withhold either. Not really. I mean, your virginity is a precious gift and you shouldn’t give it away to just anyone, but if someone really wants to have sex with you, you should remember that it’s not really your right to say no. So if you have sex with someone after realising that it’s not your right to withhold sex, and then find yourself in that awkward position known as pregnancy- well, you CAN get an abortion. I mean, Tony Abbott certainly won’t judge or condemn you. He will just say you’re doing it for your convenience and that you’re contributing to a legacy of unutterable shame because abortions are tragedies. But he’s totes not judging or condemning you, ok?

Putting aside all these telling comments for just a moment- lets look at one of the other reasons Tony Abbott should not be in charge of women’s issues- he’s proven himself to be sexist. His sexist treatment of former PM Julia Gillard is well documented. Her now legendary speech in parliament addressing his misogynist and sexist behaviour was not a bolt from the blue, it was the culmination of long term sexist and poor behaviour on his part and addressed specific incidences of sexist and misogynist behaviour.

This man would look after women’s affairs?

Click here to see Julia Gillard’s speech detailing Tony Abbott’s sexist and misogynist behaviour.

So what can we do? Probably not very much. Get back to the ironing, I suppose.


I just remembered, we have the Internet! Sure, our National Broadband Network might be on hold, but we can still work with what we have. So why not sign my petition? Will it make PM Abbott give the portfolio to someone better suited? I don’t know. But it may well at least let him know that he’s further alienating a significant proportion of the population that he hopes will keep him in government. And if he has even half a brain, he needs to take note of that. I don’t expect him to be a genius, after all, “No one,however smart, however well-educated, however experienced … is the suppository of all wisdom” But I do think enough people letting him know that they aren’t happy with something he is doing might help to bring about change.

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Yup, nothing is sacred in our household. image

World Breastfeeding Week is this year focusing on support for breastfeeding mums.
I think support is paramount in being able to breastfeed and often goes hand in hand with education. You don’t need a degree to pass on knowledge or to support a new mum.

The vast majority of Australian babies are breastfed from birth, but somewhere in those first few weeks, the rate of exclusively breastfed babies drops off significantly. And it’s important to note that many mums who stop early on don’t want to. With my first baby, despite pretending otherwise, I was one of those mums. The second time around, I read, I listened, I asked and I still struggled with it, but I was lucky enough to be so very well supported- by my husband, by the community LCs and by a wonderful group of women on a parenting forum. This third resource was such a wealth of experience and knowledge. The support and understanding offered to me so freely by other mums who had breastfed is something I couldn’t have persevered without- it is a big part of why I’m still breastfeeding today. The knowledge and support of peers carried me through the painful bad latch, the low supply, the difficulties of comp feeding, the bout of mastitis and the struggle to rebuild my supply again.

I’m not the only one who has been able to breastfeed thanks to the advice of other mums-far from it. Historically, this is how women learned to feed- during their day to day lives, they saw breastfeeding constantly and helped each other to learn when the time came- other than wet nursing, there was no alternative. There was no infant formula or lactation consultants-just each other. The trend of successful breastfeeding from a strong peer support network, while not new, is now being actively encouraged, such as the trial being conducted by La Trobe University, where they are setting up new mums with a peer mum experienced in breastfeeding. The idea being that new mums can ring the more experienced mum for advice. I think it’s a fantastic idea and you can read more about it here.

I guess the message is, if you have breastfed and know a thing or two about it, the most valuable thing you can do with that knowledge is to share it. I bought a few books about breastfeeding and most are kind of intimidating to read. It’s a block of information, almost like someone delivering a speech and then not answering questions afterwards. Whereas reaching out to another mum, something as simple as “Hey, my baby wants to feed for like 3 hours in the evening- NON STOP!! Did that happen to you? Is it normal?” And hearing (or in my case, reading) that yes, it is, is so reassuring. Supportive mums groups, peer groups and online parenting forums are like a brains trust that we all should be able to access when it comes to breastfeeding.

I have heard so many stories of GPs being unsupportive of breastfeeding past the first few months, and experienced it myself when my own doctor shrugged off my supply issues, refused to prescribe motilium and told me to formula feed my 6 week old. I think the fact that Australian GPs receive little to no education in this area is also reflected in our low rates of full term breastfeeding. The World Health Organisation says:

“Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.

Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”

And this is exactly what I told my doctor. If your GP is unsupportive, maybe direct them to this information. Hopefully it will spur them on to doing their own research and they might be more supportive of the next struggling mum to sit in their office.

If you know someone that is breastfeeding but haven’t done so yourself, you can still be supportive. You can not freak out if they feed in public or you can just tell them they are doing a great job. Every bit of support helps!

Human milk is the perfect food for babies, contains immunological benefits and is just generally awesome, makes children smarter, more attractive, gives a keener eye for real estate purchases and almost guarantees future instant scratch lotto ticket wins will always be above the purchase price of the ticket. Ok, maybe not all that. But it is easily digested, good for baby’s immune system and free! Breastfeeding is also instant comfort for most babies and that in itself is worth just as much as the nutritional benefits for me. It also has health benefits for mum, helping to protect against certain cancers and allegedly helping mums to shed their baby weight sooner (I’ll let you know when that one kicks in haha!) So if you’re hoping to breastfeed or struggling with some aspect of it- reach out. Ask another mum you know, ask your mum, ask your mums group, go to an ABA meeting, ask online- just ask, because the support is there and with breastfeeding, the support of your peers is invaluable.

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