With Jake already being three weeks old, I have quickly discovered which items I would class as ‘essential’ for new mums and babies to make these early days easier to cope with. The Essential Nursing Tank from Bravado has proved itself to be one of them – and not just because the word ‘essential’ is in its name! I have even found it to be a must-have as a mum who has not been exclusively breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and I have never had a straightforward relationship. When Little Man was born five years ago, growth restricted due to pre-eclampsia and delivered at 37 weeks, he only weighed 5lb 9oz. During our four day stay on the postnatal ward, my attempted breastfeeding did not work out well for either of us, and he was supplemented with formula before we were even discharged home. He was bottle-fed from then on, and I only put him to the breast for mutual comfort – we were both happier for it.
Fast forward to this July, and Baby Jake was born at 40+2, with no complications, tipping the scales at an eye-watering 10lb 2oz – getting on for double his big brother’s birth weight. Being born in the early hours, we had a successful first breastfeed in the hospital and we were allowed home later the same day. It was a world away from my first birth experience, but a we had very similar problem when it came to feeding. Whereas Joe was so small he needed help when I was struggling to satisfy him, Jake was so big and hungry, by the time he was 24 hours old I was giving him nothing and he was screaming for food. Having successfully bottle fed before, we turned to formula once again – not as I had planned, but I refused to beat myself up about it. Too many women do.
However, as with Joe, I have still found it beneficial to latch Jake on to settle him at times – he still gets a little milk from me and we both enjoy the closeness. This is where the Bravado Nursing Tank has proved its worth. A simple vest top from the outside, there is some clever scaffolding going on inside which provides a supportive built-in nursing bra, with clips on the straps to enable easy access for feeding. I had chosen a lovely dark plum colour, and the soft cotton fabric feels extremely comfortable to wear. It has certainly made the bit of breastfeeding I am doing much easier to manage.
Around postnatal day five when my milk really came in, the top was an absolute godsend. As I wasn’t giving Jake full breastfeeds, my boobs became so huge and sore that I was in agony. I wondered if they would actually pop under the pressure at one point. I thought it would be the perfect time to try out the Nursing Tank properly. The first time I pulled it on, I struggled somewhat to get the built-in bra over my boobs, as it is more like putting on a crop top than a bra, although I think this was mostly due to me feeling so uncomfortably huge. Usually a bra size 34C, I had asked for a 34D/E to allow for some expansion, but I think that a larger back size might have fit better to start with. After a couple of washes though, and now my breasts have decreased in mass somewhat, it is much more comfortable. The relief I felt from being properly and comfortably supported by the top though was wonderful.
I would wholeheartedly recommend wearing the top to sleep in to give protective support in bed, and enable easy nighttime feeding. I have also taken to wearing it during the day, layered under a non-maternity top, to hide my postnatal tummy! The longer length covers all you would want it to, and the cut fits flatteringly without clinging too tightly. I can certainly see me continuing to wear it in the coming months as I start to exercise again as it would provide ideal support for non-impact activities like Pilates or yoga. Just be aware of the nursing clips – nobody wants to come unclipped in the middle of yoga class!
I was sent an Essential Nursing Tank by Bravado free of charge for the purpose of this review. You can browse the selection of colours available, priced at £36, on the Bravado website http://www.bravadodesigns.eu/shop/uk-en/the-essential-nursing-tank