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Nursing Fashion

  • The Nursing Bra You Need: Interview With Au Lait Founder Emily Hsu

    Finding nursing bras that make breastfeeding easy and don’t compromise on comfort can feel impossible to find, but Au Lait has you covered! We sat down with Au Lait founder Emily Hsu and discussed the inspiration behind her line of unique nursing wear. The Au Lait line provides privacy, comfort and support through design and materials that are safe for you and your baby – which is why we’re so excited to have them as our newest addition to The Covet Shop!

    1) What inspired you to start Au Lait? 

    I had a really hard time trying to sustain my breastfeeding efforts while traveling for work.  I was not comfortable with exposing myself especially while I was on business flights and conferences.  Au Lait’s styles are made for the nursing mothers on the go, while providing 360 degrees of privacy.

    2) How are your clothes different from other nursingwear brands?

    Au Lait combines timeless style with a focus on fabric and feeding technology so that breastfeeding moms are not restricted to nursing tops that are overly casual.

    3) Tell us more about the nursing bra. How did you design it? Why is it special?

    I suffered from repeated bouts of mastitis while I was breastfeeding Avery.  The doctor told me to not wear a nursing bra to help prevent future occurrences but as any nursing mom knows, not wearing a bra is not really an option unless I just stayed home all day and even then, I wouldn’t want to be in a wet shirt all day!

    So while designing a new nursing bra, I had two goals in mind.  I need a bra that grew and shrank with me throughout the day (and especially nights) and also, a bottom band that provided support but did not “pinch” my milk ducts as my doctor told me was one of the possible causes of mastitis.

    Our Seamless Lounge Nursing Bra utilizes an ultra fine spandex spun just for our bottom band so that it sits against your rib cage but does not restrict or roll.  The bra has a crossover design on both the front and back so it truly expands and shrinks with your every change.

    I added special pockets to hold removable cups because I personally can use the shaping help and also, I was so sick of dropping and picking up my reusable nursing pad everywhere.  So you can tuck your reusable nursing pads into the special pockets to keep them in place as you go about your day with your little one.

    4) You don’t have a white bra. What is the reasoning behind your color selections?

    The process of making a garment white involves both bleaching and the application of optical whiteners.  Synthetic fabrics that are widely popular these days due to their more technical nature (good stretch, and wicking) requires 2 processes in order to achieve a true white. The kind of white that I know your brand new baby reminds you of: pure, untainted, cloud-like cleanliness.

    Due to the fact that reductive bleaching and optical whiteners both use fluorescents to achieve the clean white that we so love, I had to make the call and err on the side of caution as I slept in my nursing bras.

    In fact, except for when I was showering, I lived in my nursing bras 24/7 for as long as I nursed Avery.  I am sure that 99% of the chemical traces are washed off eventually and I know even our laundry detergents have traces of fluorescents in it to make “our whites white and our brights brighter!”

    However, I had to think about the tired, desperate, first-time mom with aching boobs, who just wants to pull on the bra right out of the package.  I have to think about her and what is best for her and her baby.

    5) What’s your favorite Nine Naturals product?

    I have been using the Natural Pregnancy Belly Oil religiously since its launch!  It is so luxurious and easy to spread around my belly.  I use it twice a day and I haven’t gotten the belly itches yet and I’m due this week!



    Born into a family dedicated to designing and creating the highest end performance textile products, Emily H. has spent over a decade in crafting fit, design, and production for the performance sports industry and working with the world’s most innovative brands in textiles and garment construction technology.

    While breastfeeding her daughter Avery, Emily was constantly frustrated and shocked at the lack of clothing options for breastfeeding women. Although comfort is very important, it should not be a hindrance to pursuing style and functionality. Utilizing her knowledge in fabrics and garment construction, Emily decided to solve the two biggest issues with nursing and breastfeeding tops: privacy for the nursing mother and designs that avoid the drab look that nursing tops feature today.

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    • New Mama Fashion: Stylish Nursing Scarves

      5 fall fashion statements that both you and baby will love.

      Article & Photos courtesy of Well Rounded NY

      There’s no better season than scarf season, and if you have a brand new baby, you have an extra reason to indulge. No need for a dowdy nursing cover during those fall outings, these beautiful breastfeeding scarves are made to do double duty: a fashion accessory for mama, and a cozy feeding nook for baby. Here’s our 5 favorite nursing scarves for fall.

      Maternal America, $38

       

      Nuroo, $29.99

       

      Kinwolfe, $135

       

      Seraphine Nursing Shawl, $75

       

      Honest Company, $59.95

      This article is by Jessica Pallay, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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    • Fashion Find: Mitera Collection

      A chic collection of nursing dresses to ensure you have one less obstacle postpartum.

      Mitera Collection

       Article & Photos courtesy of Well Rounded NY

      When Yoko Shimada gave birth to her son Hugo in 2010, she was in a state of euphoria as many of us new moms are. But, “there is another side of motherhood that no words can describe,” she remembers. “Nobody really tells you how truly challenging it can be. Sleeplessness, hormone-induced sweating, post-pregnancy excess weight and saggy stomach, postpartum hair loss, lack of time for any form of self-care like showering, putting on decent clothes and exercising.” Sound familiar?

      She struggled with breastfeeding, and when that got easier, she struggled with breastfeeding in public. And then she struggled with pumping when she went back to work as a global public health exec. She had to look professional, but also needed easy access to her breasts for pumping. Dresses were impossible. “I had to completely undress, or at the very least, undress from the waist up (if there was a zipper in the back) in order to pump. If someone were to walk in the door while I was pumping, I would look completely naked.”

      And so she dreamed up Mitera Collection, a beautiful, functional and practical line of versatile nursing- and pumping-friendly dresses. Three years and one more baby (Emmeline) later, it came to life. The inaugural collection launched this spring and includes 6 styles that range from casual to professional to party. It reflects the sensibility of an urban mom, who Shimada says, “is not just a mom, but a woman who wears many different hats.” Mitera is also committed to newborn and maternal health; a percentage of revenue will support organizations working in that space.

      Below, Shimada talks about the journey to launch Mitera, and how it’s helping solve at least one challenge we all face postpartum: what to wear.

      Mitera Collection dress

      Tell us about your own breastfeeding experience.
      Society expects and everything in the media tells you that you are supposed to be HAPPY to be a mom. But having done it twice now, it is not that simple. I admit that the first three to four months into my postpartum period was both the happiest and hardest time of my life. As a global health professional who specialized in maternal and child health, I knew the benefits of breastfeeding and I spent my career educating women in different parts of the world about the importance of breastfeeding and its benefits for both the baby and mom. But when it was my turn, I realized how hard it actually was. My nipples cracked and bled and they hurt for a good month and a half (with both kids!). Constant breastfeeding sessions every few hours = no sleep, no rest. Pumping sucked. Period. But after persevering through a few problems for the next two months, I was successfully breastfeeding and came to really enjoy it.

      How did that experience plant the seed for Mitera?
      Just when I had gotten used to the breastfeeding process, I encountered another problem – breastfeeding in public. On top of already feeling unattractive, I could not really wear clothes that made me feel somewhat normal. Instead, I was wearing ‘nursing’ friendly clothes where I could easily and ‘discreetly’ pop my breasts out for feeding my son or lift a shirt exposing my midriff, the most vulnerable part of my postpartum body to nurse. Both of my babies were extremely unhappy with the nursing cape that they constantly batted away, every time I tried to cover myself. When my son was 3 months old, we took him to Japan (my home country) to introduce him to his extended family. In addition to the stress of traveling internationally with my newborn son, it was also a struggle to feed, pump and store milk at the airport and in the economy seat of an airplane. It was messy and I felt uncomfortable, frustrated and miserable.

      Mom Fashion - Mitera Collection

      What about your back-to-work experience?
      Four and a half months after Hugo was born, I went back to work. The lactation room in our building was located in a dark basement. After trying to pump there a couple of times, I started pumping in my office with a big sign on the door saying “DO NOT ENTER.” I pumped while checking emails. I pumped while eating lunch. I pumped while on conference calls. I pumped all the time.

      This is when I ran into yet another challenge – my wardrobe. Since my days were so busy with no option to stay late, I had to be ultra efficient while accommodating my pumping schedule. My attire had to be in line with the professional look of the World Bank, but also make it easy for me to quickly access my breasts for pumping.

      Out of necessity, I started sketching my ideas out for nursing dresses nice enough to wear to the office. Initially, I never really thought about making them. But, then I realized that I couldn’t find anything in the market that really worked for me. I found a patternmaker in Japan to make the prototypes and had a tiny factory in Kobe produce the first samples of my breastfeeding dresses. I wore them all myself out of necessity and also to test them. It was not long until other moms started noticing them and asking me where I got the dresses. So, I continued working on the design in the evenings after I put my son to bed, while holding down a fulltime job that required constant international travel. It took me another three years and one more baby to decide to develop my idea into a business.

      Tell me about the Mitera aesthetic.
      Contemporary, Sophisticated, Modern, Chic, Urban, Simple, Inspiring and Empowering. I designed all the dresses from the point of view of a woman who is a mother. Our dresses are designed to be first and foremost beautiful and then functional and practical. I want women to feel like they are done the minute they put on our dresses (as moms, we are always short on time, right?). All of our pieces are designed to be versatile – from day to night, brunch to dinner, playdate to cocktail, office to evening, and kids birthday parties to weddings.

      Mitera maternity dress

      How are they functional for breastfeeding and comfortable for postpartum?
      All of our dresses have the patent-pending hidden zipper system which allows for discreet feeding and pumping. Three out of the six dresses have what we call a modesty bra, which is a thin lining or a loose sports bra offering extra protection when the zippers are open. All of our dresses are machine-washable and several come with huge pockets for essential mom items like keys, pacifiers and toy cars. I know how messy mommying can get, so I envisioned those days when I might be nursing a baby while dealing with a toddler covered in Nutella or some other sticky substance! With our timelessly chic design, completely hidden zipper access and practical luxury afforded by details like pockets and washability, our pieces are meant to be worn through pregnancy, nursing and well beyond, through the joys and challenges of motherhood. I wanted to design dresses that women would want to wear even if they are not pregnant or nursing.

      What kind of fabrics do you use?
      We use only high quality durable and washable fabrics made in Japan. This has practical and ethical reasons. We searched high and low for luxurious yet durable and washable materials for our dresses. While it would be nice to wear a silk dress, it is not practical when you have small children and cost of dry cleaning could be prohibitive. I personally source fabrics from Japan and we know where our fabrics are manufactured and feel confident about their quality, as well as traceability.

      Why is wearing a nursing-specific item so important for a breastfeeding mom?
      Most dresses do not allow easy access for discreet breastfeeding. Most of the time actually, wearing a dress as a breastfeeding mom means taking it all off or becoming half-naked if there was a zipper in the back, in order to nurse. It is just not practical. There are great designs like the classic V-neck dresses or crow-neck dresses where you can access your breasts for feeding or pumping, but the problem is that these designs are fairly limited. I wanted to wear dresses to go to the office and needed something that was professional as well as elegant and something that allowed me to easily access my breasts for frequent pumping while I was on a conference call or typing an email. I could certainly not wear a deep V-neck with my protruding lactating boobs (lol!).

      Postpartum fashion - Mitera Collection

      What can we expect in future seasons from Mitera?
      We might be adding fun colors to add to the existing line and our second collection is in the works. We are thinking a jumpsuit, maybe a top and more! We also have plans to design nursing bras and accessories all with the same Mitera aesthetic.

      Tell us more about the mother-to-mother program.
      Because of my background in global public health, I have always been passionate about issues surrounding maternal and child health. When I became a mother myself, these issues became even more personal. Pregnancy and childbirths should be the one of the happiest times of a woman’s life, yet the reality in the most of the developing world is different.

      Each year around the world, 2.9 million newborns needlessly die within their first month and an additional 2.6 are stillborn. One million babies die the same day they are born. Furthermore, approximately 290,000 mothers die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Over 90% of the deaths occur in the developing world, and 90% of them are preventable. While great strides have been made in reducing global child mortality, newborns now account for 44 percent of all childhood deaths. That is why we decided to focus on newborn health.

      With our Mother to Mother program, our intention is to help bring innovation to affect social change – in this case, to improve maternal and newborn health. Our focus is to identify innovators and market disruptors who are working to improve maternal and newborn health and partner with them in our program.

      Our first partner will be D-Rev, a San Francisco based non-profit product development company dedicated to improving access to world class medical technologies for the population living on $4 a day. We chose to partner with them because 1) they focus in particular on newborn health through their device called ‘Brilliance’ to treat neonatal jaundice, 2) they are innovative in how they aim to achieve their goal of radically improving accessibility to health technologies that can save and improve people’s lives, 3) all of their products are designed to scale on the market, not through donations or subsidies, 4) they are committed to transparency which is important to us in terms of showing our customers where our donation goes.

      Mitera white dress

      This article is by Jessica Pallay, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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    • 5 Tips For Buying The Perfect Nursing Bra

      As every breastfeeding mom knows, the right nursing bra will make a huge difference in the ease, comfort and privacy you feel while breastfeeding. However, not all nursing bras are created equal and finding the right nursing bra that supports and accommodates your changing body can be tricky.  Here are 5 tips to use when looking for the perfect fit.

      1) Prioritize Elasticity of the Bottom Band: The bottom band of a good nursing bra should feature both stretch and recovery. Your body will change quite a bit during and after your pregnancy, so maximum stretch will ensure your nursing bra will fit from the time you purchase until you stop nursing. The lack of pressure under your bust will provide comfort, especially for moms who are prone to mastitis. Recovery of the elastic will keep the bra as supportive as it was when new.

      2) Take Advantage of Removable Cups: A nursing bra with removable cups is the key to a versatile garment. The cups offer modesty and shape, while the cup pockets provide an easy place to tuck in your nursing pads. Trust us, you’ll want the pockets to help prevent those nursing pad from falling out of your bra or moving around while you are breastfeeding or sleeping at night.

      3) Beware of Your Colors: White and brightly colored nursing bras often use optical whiteners and bleach. There may be heavy traces of fluorescents on the garment if it’s not diligently washed prior to hitting the shelfs. Err on the side of caution and purchase neutral or dark colored nursing bras from reputable companies that ensure color fastness. These companies will wash the dark garments repeatedly to get rid of any excess dye or chemicals, ensuring that the fabric is safer for you and your little one.

      4) Opt for Cross-over Design: A nursing bra that features a crossover design in the front allows for easy access and convenience when breastfeeding your little one. Similar to a sports bra, cross-over design on the back will offer the nursing mom support as her breast size fluctuates throughout the day and night.

      5) Seek Wide Shoulder Straps: Wide, non-slip shoulder straps are critical in providing support and comfort when breastfeeding without being too restricting. No one likes bra straps that slip off the shoulder, so wider straps on a well-fitted bra will keep it properly positioned on the body.

      At Nine Naturals, we love the Au Lait Seamless Lounge Nursing Bra. It comes in black and nude, ensuring no residual chemicals or dyes. With no clips or buttons, the transition between breastfeeding and regular wear is simple and convenient. You’ll love the comfort and support it provides!

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    • Nursing Dresses

      Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

      6 nursing dresses you and baby will love this spring and summer.

      While maternity clothes can be challenging, reinventing your wardrobe doesn’t necessarily stop after baby arrives. If you’re a nursing mom, you’re not only shopping for clothes with style (and that fit you postpartum) but suddenly you’ll find yourself looking at outfits in technical ways you never imagined possible. Functionality has risen from your feet to your chest. Lucky for you, there are fantastic brands that have emerged and evolved for you just in time. I remember daydreaming of the time that I’d be able to wear dresses again when I was nursing, and now brands are making dresses that I want to wear even though my nursing days are in the past.

      Here are the 6 nursing dress you’ll live in this spring and summer.

      1. Au Lait X-Back Maxi Dress– The cooler than cool nursing brand Au Lait by Emily Hsu is bringing us this modern maxi that you’ll wear everywhere even without baby in tow. Not only is it functional but the light jersey will keep baby cozy while nursing. $198

      2. Maternal America Baby Doll Dress– Worried about shedding the layers because of the baby weight that only you can see? This baby doll dress by Maternal America will give you some breathing room and allow you to nurse discreetly in public. $138

      3. Molly Ades Black Zippered maternity/nursing dress– If you’re anything like us, pregnancy actually doubled your love for stripes. This grey and black number by Molly Ades is perfectly casual and easy to layer on cooler nights. A great investment piece you can wear during pregnancy and nursing. $98

      4. Fourth Love Addison Dress– One of our favorite maternity brands just went and stepped up its game. Introducing nursing-optional pieces for the first time, Fourth Love is extending the life on their stylish maternity pieces by adding a special design that makes this dress suitable for nursing. Truth is, you’ll continue wearing (and getting compliments on) this dress past your nursing days too. $155

      5. BOOB Nursing Dress Manon– BOOB is the perfect balance between function and style (I’ve personally worn my own BOOB pieces post-nursing many times because they’re so comfy). This Manon dress by Boob, with quick nursing accessibility, makes us want to spend all summer in a sea town. Oh summer, will you just get here already? $105

      6. Mara Hoffman Cosmic Print Shirtdress– OK, we know this isn’t a nursing brand but button-downs do the trick just fine (and if Morgan Hutchinson of Shop Buru says it’s a nursing garment, then we believe her). $248

      This article is by Kaity Velez courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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    • How-To: Nurse (Discreetly) at a Restaurant

      Article & Photo Courtesy of Well Rounded NY.
      Alexis Barad of Brunch with My Baby shows new mamas the ropes of nursing in public.Taking your baby out to a restaurant is like carrying a ticking time bomb, unless you have the kind of baby whose nursing schedule is so regular you can time it to the minute (in which case, I recommend keeping that fact to yourself). Your food could have just arrived on the table and Boom! — the wailing, crying and screaming begins. So what’s a mama to do when she wants to nurse her baby and eat a panini too? Here are some helpful tips for nursing a baby in a restaurant without losing your cool.

      Always carry a swaddle blanket in your diaper bag.
      I never liked to feel too encumbered by “stuff” when we were out and about, so instead of bringing a nursing cover, I carried a multipurpose swaddle blanket. Swaddle blankets are so much more than a swaddling tool; they can act as a stroller sun shield, clean up a milky mess, and act as a burp cloth (among many other things). But my favorite way to use a swaddle blanket was to drape it across my chest so that it kind of looked like a toga, and nurse my baby underneath. An extra long swaddle blanket can pretty much stay in place with the weight of the fabric hanging down your back alone, but to be safe, tuck one of the corners into your bra strap or secure it under the back of your shirt. Sometimes I even tied it around my neck like a really big mama bib. If you go for one of the more high-end swaddle blankets by aden + anais, the pretty prints and luxurious texture of the fabric make nursing feel almost fancy.

      Dress for undress.
      If you’re nursing, it is not a great idea to go out to eat wearing a short dress with no buttons or zipper (I learned that the hard way). Because, what happens when baby gets hungry and you can’t access the milk bar without having to lift your dress up and exposing your underthings? You are much better off wearing anything — ANYTHING — with buttons: a button-down shirt dress with a skinny belt and a pair of flats, for example, or a chambray button-down over pants, with riding boots (and bright red lipstick). Another option? Oversize cardigans that you can cover your baby with like a mama bird with her wing.

      Pick your table wisely.
      Are you timid about whipping out the girls in public? Then maybe al fresco dining isn’t for you right now. Personally, after having a baby, I didn’t really care that much who saw any part of me, but when I was out with my more discreet nursing friends, eating outside was just way more awkward. If possible, choose a table inside, in a corner or against a wall. When you need to nurse, you can turn towards the wall, and use your back as cover. Your waiter might get a peep when refilling your iced tea, but consider that part of his tip.

      Wear a pretty nursing bra.
      If you are going out in public, and you know that your underthings will be on display, consider investing in a “going out” nursing bra – one that hides milk stains more or less (the darker the better) and is pretty without drawing attention to itself (i.e. no leopard print). Don’t go overboard (nursing bras are expensive!) but invest in one bra that makes you feel good, so if it gets exposed, you can feel more confident.

      Try not to overthink it.
      You might think that when you are nursing publicly, there are neon arrow signs pointing to you, alerting everyone around you that you are currently sitting partially naked at a restaurant. But think about it: hundreds of nursing women have been eating meals out of the house for generations. Can you remember seeing these nursing mothers when you were catching up with girlfriends over frittatas and mimosas? Probably not. But they were there. People tend to be too caught up in their own thing to notice much else. And if people give you the stink eye for nursing, I recommend looking them straight in the eye and asking them if they’re thirsty.

      This article is by Alexis Barad-Cutler courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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