Around 10 weeks, I began considering wearing maternity clothes. I didn't need to wear them, but there was one amazing benefit that won out:
Easy breastfeeding access. I'm guessing when maternity clothes are designed, the thought process is, "Hmm. These women just got an extra oompf to their breasts and probably want to show it off. Let's make these shirts low-necked and loose!" And boy do I love it.
I think I mentioned before that while I've done layers in the past, Margaret is at the point where she refuses to nurse with layers. I either have to pull everything up: shirt, bra, undershirts, etc., or I have to pull everything down. Well, I suppose I could insist on layers, but if the goals are to feed her while trying not to make a big scene, then arguing with a one year old about layers isn't fulfilling that. Also, she's not wrong in wanting no layers. In fact she's right: it's probably not comfortable to have extra fabric near your face when you want to eat, drink or be comforted. And breastfeeding shouldn't be a time for struggles.
So when she became insistent, I started to wonder: Why make it harder on myself? I spent over a year worrying about the layers and whether or not they fell on me in a "modest" way. I would often be more worried about that than nursing her. Then this past summer/fall when she decided that she was done with the layers I agreed with her. I'm done with that. I'm done with making it harder on myself. Breastfeeding is hard enough with my random bouts of mastitis and a wiggly toddler and sensitive pregnancy nipples that I'm not putting more stumbling blocks in my way. And our next child- who knows what challenges there will be: tongue tie? food sensitivities? more engorgement and mastitis? Do I really want to make it harder on us? One friend of mine said, "It took me too many months with too many struggles to even be able to breastfeed. No one is going to tell me how to do it." I agree.
So for the past 5 months or so, I've been just pulling down. It's far easier. There's no fuss with Margaret and it makes nursing quicker, more peaceful, and stress-free. Why didn't I think of this before?!
I recently read an old post about nursing from the top down and how nursing from the bottom up is a relatively new concept. It's hard to nurse from the top up in a dress, you know? I think the switch to nursing from the bottom happened once women were more comfortable in skirts, pants, and shorts, and the "formula is more scientific, so it's better than using your icky primal breasts" idea entered the 20th century. You're covering/hiding more that way.
Right now, my focus is getting Margaret through the flu and cold season months and maybe through to the end of my pregnancy if my supply doesn't drop too much due to hormones. And if I'm 8 months pregnant and still nursing, there is no way I'm going to be pulling up! My tummy was too itchy and sensitive at that point in my pregnancy for me to want to pull up to breastfeed. Plus, at that point, the difference between pulling up from the bottom versus the top is square feet of skin versus square inches.
And with my next babe, I'm not bothering with layer struggles. I'm done with all that. It's not worth it. Breastfeeding, mothering, and life in general is hard enough- why make it harder on myself?