A Magazine Editor’s Personal Journey in Search of an Office-Worthy Postpartum Wardrobe
If you are a busy executive trapped in an impossible-to-unzip or otherwise inconvenient top or dress leading an important meeting with engorged breasts screaming to be pumped, or if you’ve just been frustrated at the lack of fashion-forward, practical and high quality apparel for moms, you’re not alone. Mitera's founder, Yoko Shimada, recently shared her tips for finding pumping-friendly clothing with Medela, a leading breast pump manufacture. It’s something every breastfeeding/pumping mom faces at one point or another in her journey – that moment of “How am I going to feed/pump in this outfit without stripping down to my underwear?"
Corynne Cirilli, a magazine editor in New York City shares her own personal journey as a media executive/new breastfeeding mom and important messages to new moms and those returning to work about why what you wear matters, especially during those postpartum months.
During my second trimester at my job as a magazine editor, I was promoted. It was an exciting time for me, and as my growing belly expanded, along with my responsibilities, I made it a point to find maternity clothes that reflected my professional style. Our work environment is by no means corporate when it comes to attire, but I personally feel that I conduct myself professionally, am taken more seriously, and act more confident when I’m dressed like, well, a boss.
In the months leading up to my son’s birth, planning my return to work was a big part of my preparations. This was my first baby and I was committed to breastfeeding for as long as I could, and had the goal of one year in my mind. Because I have a demanding job and a long commute, I accepted that this meant I would be pumping. It’s not quite what had I imagined preparing for a baby would look like (I guess stuffed animals and rocking chairs are what come to mind?) but a big part of getting ready for baby centered around pumping supplies. Before he was even born, our two bedroom Brooklyn apartment looked like a Medela store exploded in there. Pump in Style breastpump? Check. Breastmilk storage bags and bottles? Check. Special nipples that mimic breastfeeding? Check.
Chic, work appropriate clothes that would fit my post pregnancy body, accommodate pumping, and reflect the fact that I was taking my return to work after baby seriously? Of that, there were nothing to be found.
In hindsight, my first mistake was in pregnancy. I didn’t buy enough fashion-forward maternity clothes that would have also worked for nursing. I really didn’t realize how much I would need to incorporate pumping into my wardrobe, and none of my really cute maternity stuff was nursing friendly. (Also, it never occurred to me that my maternity clothes would be the only things that fit me for months after the baby was born!) When I did finally return to work, in the thick of summer, I resorted to wearing the nursing things I had bought to wear during maternity leave: jersey dresses and work-out/pajama like tops which I did my best to pair with a blazer and the maternity jeans I had mostly rocked on weekends when I was pregnant. (At the time, it seemed like a waste of money to spend $200 on maternity jeans — now I realize that one really chic pair of those could have helped my wardrobe when I returned to work.)
Like many women, my job is fast-paced. I’m often juggling multiple tasks, meetings, and crises and my staff was used to me being very open and available for them. Once I got back to work and was spending time pumping, my time was more strapped than I anticipated, and I soon realized that my goal with pumping was to get in and out of that room twice a day as quickly as possible. The “back to work” dress that zipped up the back I bought on sale? That just wasn’t happening.
The return to work was so much harder than I imagined it would be — and as harsh as this sounds, it wasn’t because I missed my baby. Of course I missed him when I was working, sometimes. And I sometimes still do. But the most difficult part of going back was struggling to take on a leadership role when I didn’t feel or look like myself at all. And while this sounds like too quick of a fix, the fact that I was dressing like the frumpiest version of myself on a daily basis wasn’t helping.
So when I first heard about Mitera I was both thrilled that FINALLY there was something for executive level women who are pregnant or pumping — and also a little heartbroken that I was winding down from pumping and no longer was in need of these clothes that I truly think would have gotten me through a lot of tough days.
It may sound superficial to say one of the most difficult parts of returning to work was not having many options for what to wear (a few notches below not sleeping for five months), but I honestly think that if I had invested in a few key wardrobe items that would have supported me through pregnancy and into breastfeeding/pumping at work, I would have had more confidence in myself when it was time to go back. In a dream world, where I could do it all again (or maybe for the next baby?) these items from Mitera would be on my must-have list:
Corynne is a writer, editor and reporter living in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, their one- year-old son and the family's pit bull. She's currently the executive editor of the award-winding, national entertainment magazineCloser Weekly. Born and raised in Chicago, Corynne is passionate about food, travel and all topics related to motherhood and is thrilled to be part of the Mitera community.