This Sexy Plus-Size Nursing Collection Has Breastfeeding Moms Swooning

breastfeeding plus size
Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina

When my daughter was born eight months ago, I figured my life was in for a spin. But while I expected the sleepless nights and absolute lack of me-time, I didn't anticipate the loss of my personal style. Thanks to the lack of plus-size nursing apparel in the fashion industry, however, that's exactly what I was in for.

Shopping for both pregnancy and post-pregnancy outfits is a lackluster experience at the best of times. Even within the straight-size market, these looks seem to scream, "You're a mom now! You don't need to look cute." Or, even worse, "You're no longer allowed to participate in traditionally 'womanly' things, like fashion. Your job here is done."

Add to that the experience of being fat, and the handful of mediocre options grows virtually nonexistent. I struggled to dress my pregnant body, but dressing my nursing body is even more hellish. Limited to button-down blouses and loose-fitting spaghetti strap dresses, I don't often recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. 

More from CafeMom: 11 Rad Plus Size Clothing Stores You May Not Know About Yet

It's precisely this feeling that designer Andrea Newberry is hoping to combat through Leche Libre's first plus-size nursing collection. The breastfeeding fashion brand is characterized by its edgy, minimalist, yet statement-making wears, currently available in sizes 0 through 16. If Newberry's latest Kickstarter is funded, shoppers could be looking at some essential sartorial options in sizes 16W through 26. The three initial styles, which can be preordered now, have every possibility to be game-changers.

  • They Can Help Us Say Goodbye to Frump

    Newberry, a mother of two, was inspired to launch Leche Libre after having her children, when she found herself in the bizarre limbo that is trying to balance motherhood with being a woman (and your own human). 

    "I felt so frustrated by the lack of options. Everything made for breastfeeding was so frumpy," she tells CafeMom. "I felt like there were all these subliminal messages after I had kids that it didn't matter what I looked like anymore and that my only focus should be on taking care of my kids. [...] As a person and a woman, I was disappearing. But I also loved being a mom. Giving birth and breastfeeding had awoken this sense of power in myself and pride in my womanhood and I wanted to create a collection of clothing which would allow me practical functionality as well as a strong style to celebrate my powerful womanhood and motherhood in one."

    This is, perhaps, why Leche Libre's styles -- although comfortable and conducive to easy public breastfeeding -- are the antithesis to frumpy. Mothers don't stop being individuals with unique styles, preferences, and interests once they have children. Their clothing options should reflect that. 

    The reptile-print tunic dress (pictured on the far-right model above), for example, is easy to slip on and stretchy enough to allow for effortless movement throughout the day. The print and oversized neckline, however, add a bit of sass into the mix. This is a dress that wants to be seen.

    Like all of Leche Libre's styles, the breast zips are discreet but straightforward to use. They are large enough that babes of varying breast sizes should be able to pop in and out for easy feeding sessions.

    More from CafeMom: 13 Genius Nursing Hacks To Make Life As A Breastfeeding Mom So Much Easier

  • Advertisement
  • Nothing Here Is Watered Down

    During the initial run of Leche Libre merchandise, Newberry learned that simply sizing up straight-size garments won't result in well-fitting plus-size ones. By teaming up with actual plus-size women on this new line -- stylist Kat Eves and designer Casey Sunich -- she could ensure "a stylish and comfortable fit for the plus-size mama."

    Eves was quick to point out that plus-size consumers are exhausted of receiving watered-down versions of straight-size fashions. As she tells CafeMom, "Leche Libre's style is a little edgy, cool, and definitely versatile, and there was no reason why plus size women wouldn't want that aesthetic, too. [...] A lot of brands will save their most coveted designs for straight sizes and leave plus customers out of the equation. That's why it was so important with this new plus collection to have the basic LBBD (little black breastfeeding dress) and sweatshirt, but also feature the head-turning reptile tunic. It feels expensive and well-made, even runway-ready. As plus-size women, we don't get a whole lot of brands who treat us to that feeling, and as for plus-size nursing apparel, there's nothing else like it." 

    The three essential plus-size styles that make up this collection feature the same materials and style lines as the straight-size collection, but they've been crafted with unique patterns that deepen the bust darts, expand the arm holes, and widen the hips. This all makes for options just as chic as those available in smaller sizes, but made to the measurements of actual plus-size bodies.
  • Support a Brand That Supports Extended Breastfeeding

    If you browse Leche Libre's promotional images for the plus-size range, you might notice that the four models wear sizes across the 16W to 26 size range. You might also notice that they are mothers to both babies and toddlers. 

    "I'm very particular about always having a good age range of children showing," Newberry says. "I'm one of the only breastfeeding brands which actively uses toddler models and I think it's so important to increase the visibility of women nursing 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds, in addition to babies."

    Even if the clothes themselves weren't rad, Leche Libre is taking strides to represent the diversity of motherhood. In a time when breastfeeding older children can still feel laced with stigma, supporting this kind of visibility is undoubtedly important.

    More from CafeMom: Brands That Cater to 'All Bodies' Aren't Always What They Seem

  • Let Yourself Embrace Your New Body Fully

    Leche Libre
    Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina

    One of the many reasons new motherhood can be difficult is that it's almost impossible to escape "pre-baby body" rhetoric. Whether it's a fitness ad promising that we'll "get our old bodies back" or nursing style that hides our bellies and tries to "flatter" our new figures, the implication is that our new bodies are a problem to be solved. 

    Leche Libre isn't having any of that. "One thing which has held back plus sizes in breastfeeding apparel and is not talked about enough is the fatphobia which runs so rampant in the postpartum world," Newberry says. "Even though putting on weight during pregnancy is healthy and what our body naturally does, our doctors are urging us against it. In our postpartum experiences, the media and general message women get fed is always around 'bouncing back' and getting back to 'pre-baby' weight as soon as possible. I think it is so disrespectful to the way our bodies work. The fat on our bodies is turned into the nutrients that go into our breast milk. How is this bad?"

    Through Leche Libre, Eves also hopes to distance nursing moms from the myth that says they must be entirely selfless 24/7. "Mom guilt is so real," she says. "I can see how the nursing apparel and maternity-wear market has built its style around this kind of 'selfless mom' ideal, but it's really not fair. It's almost as if they just assume that every mom is on long-term maternity leave or a stay-at-home mom who won't plan to leave the house until she's finished nursing." So why would she need stylish clothes, right?

    More from CafeMom: Mom Turns Her Breastfeeding Journey into Artwork

    This is why Eves thinks Leche Libre could be especially beneficial to working moms, since it's "really the only brand that offers office-appropriate nursing apparel for moms who need to pump at work."

    Having worn the reptile tunic dress for the better part of two weeks now, I can attest to the revolutionary feel of Leche Libre's plus-size offerings. I don't have to change my post-baby body in order to wear it comfortably, because it was already built to celebrate my post-baby body. Nothing about it feels drab or made in an effort to hide my new shape, but everything about it feels made in an effort to make this time in my life easier. 

    "If you choose to give birth, you've just done the most powerful thing a human body can do," Newberry adds. Through Leche Libre, we can channel some of that power through the clothes we put on our bodies -- and quite frankly, it's about damn time.

body body positivity clothes designers plus size shopping style body image breasts breastfeeding