Nursing Dresses I'm Recommending to the Virgin Mary (and you)

Nursing Dresses I'm Recommending to the Virgin Mary (and you)

So, you've got a nursing baby. Hey, me too! And sometimes it's nice to go out in public and look cute and also feed the baby, right? You are the Mother of Incarnate God, free from all stain of original sin by a singular grace and privilege granted by the Father. *I* am a regular person who writes a blog. But I've also been nursing almost continuously for seventeen years, and know a thing or two about nursing dresses. I've gotten quite a few requests to share my favorite nursing dresses here on the blog. THEN I remembered these paintings of you and I figured who better to do this with than the Queen of Heaven?

A good nursing dress is important to me, because, as you know, you might think you've found a quiet corner in which to nurse and hang out with your parrots, but it then it turns out there's a German Renaissance painter there. #babyjesussideeye #featheryshoulderwhytho

Madonna with Child and Parrots, by Hans Baldung.

It could be embarrassing. Well, not for you, of course. But it would be for me. So I've developed some strategies.

Any dress with a wrap front, or a crossover top, or a button front can work as a nursing dress, of course. Like these.

But if I wear one of those I like to do what you've done here, and add a scarf. #neckbreast #karatechopaction

Maria met kind, by Anonymous

But what *I'd* usually do is go with something opaque, more like what you've done here. #somuchloveforthesethighrolls #thisrogierdudeseemstohaveseenababybefore

Madonna with Child, by Rogier van der Weyden.

I also like to wear a nursing camisole, like these, because tummy rolls are cuter on babies than mamas. And, looking at you, now I'm thinking I need to up my headband game.

These types of dresses are the most widely-available, since they're not specifically nursing dresses. But overall, this isn't my favorite style in which to breastfeed in public, since it leaves the top of the breast uncovered. Scarves are good, but can be foiled by wind and grabby babies.

A way to avoid that is to find a dress that opens in the bodice, but stays closed at the neck. Like you have here. #whentheneighborkidcannotbecoolaboutthis

Madonna Lactans mit Josef und Johannesknabe, by Anonymous

The dresses I have of this type are specifically made for nursing, with zippers in the bodice (note: this particular dress works well for me, but the reviews indicate that it's not a good choice for larger-breasted gals), or in the side seams (Update 2023: The dress originally linked here is no longer available, but this one is a similar one from the same brand), or with a split underbodice.

I do still usually wear a scarf with the zippered dresses, since if baby moves unexpectedly, there's not a lot of backup coverage. #babyjesusdoingthethingwithhistoesthatnursingbabiesdo #andhesgotrubberbandwrist

Which brings me to my last type of nursing dress recommendation: the double-layer top. This type of dress has the functionality of a scarf built right in. Like so. #comeoninillbedowninaminute

Madonna col Bambino in gloria con i santi Martino e Caterina, by Moretto da Brescia

That means I don't need to bring an extra layer. These are my favorite as far as comfort and ease of use. I've got them in a tank style, and three-quarter sleeve, and a cute blousy top one that's dressier.

The first two are stretch knit, and can end up a little loungy-looking. Not on you, of course. But I really find them to be the most discreet. Often regular folks don't even notice that I'm nursing in them. #elbowbreast #didnotskiplegday edited to add: #🌮?

Galaktotrophousa, by Master Ioannis

I used to use a nursing cover, but I find those to be more attention-grabbing than scarves or double layer dresses. And I prefer to be able to see my baby's face. You, more than literally anyone, know what I'm talking about there. My usual nursing situation is probably going to involve a moment or two of some exposure. I just try to be cool about it, and do my best, and hope that the people around me will be cool about it too, and avert their eyes for a sec. I figure that's how manners work. It's a two way street.

These dresses have allowed me to nurse comfortably and stylishly while at Mass, in the hospital, running errands, speaking at conferences, and waiting on television appearances. I'm actually nursing in all of these photos.

Kelli Seeley Photography at the 2019 Fiat Conference
At Home With Jim & Joy on EWTN
Bismarck Diocese Thirst Conference 2019

So, I can confidently recommend them to Our Lady's consideration, and yours.

Nursing dresses: Do you love them or hate them? What are your favorites? Links, please!

Note: This iconography of Our Lady is known as Madonna Lactans or Nursing Madonna. Examples of this depiction of the Virgin Mary nursing the baby Jesus date from as early as the 12th century, and they became very popular in the Middle Ages. They were a marked departure from previous Madonna and Child images, that often presented Mary and Jesus dressed in royal regalia. Middle and upper class European women of the Middle Ages typically contracted breastfeeding out to wet nurses. To show Our Lady in ordinary clothing, nursing her own child, was a touching reminder of the poverty and humility of the Holy Family. #butsomeofthemlookweirdtho