What To Wear Postpartum: Clothes For Your New Body After Birth

Trying to figure out what to wear postpartum and dressing your new body can be challenging.  While dozens of baby clothes are at home waiting for the new baby, there usually are not many options for the new mom. 

Buy a few essential postpartum pieces and learn how to repurpose your current maternity clothes to use after birth.

postpartum mother wearing cotton tshirt with newborn baby

Postpartum Clothes For The Hospital

As a first-time mom, I went through every hospital bag checklist.  I packed so many things in my hospital suitcase… Only to use body wash, a nursing top, stretchy pants, and a few hair ties 🤣. 

In all likelihood, you are going to spend the majority of your hospital stay in your hospital room in your hospital gown.  

The hospital provides most of what you need, including socks and slippers, soap, postpartum recovery products, mesh underwear, sheets, towels, and pillows.

Here is what I suggest for what to wear postpartum in the hospital: 

  • Tank Tops: Bonus if it’s a nursing tank top.
  • Maternity Leggings: Yes, go for maternity leggings, and don’t try to squeeze into regular leggings right away.
  • (Optional) Breastfeeding Gown: A breastfeeding robe is great if you don’t want to deal with pants and a top.
  • Hair Ties

How To Reuse Maternity Clothes Postpartum

You can reuse all of your maternity wear in the postpartum period!

  • Your maternity bras probably have nursing clips on them, so you can continue using them if breastfeeding.  Maternity bras are great even if you aren’t breastfeeding because they are stretchy and will accommodate your fluctuating cup size. 
  • Your other maternity essentials, like maternity shirts and maternity pants, are great because they are loose in the belly region, so they will be most comfortable while you are healing.  Although some maternity clothes accentuate your belly, you could stick to regular stretch tops and pants if you are self-conscious about this.  

What To Wear After A C-Section

Recovery after a c-section is usually a little longer than a vaginal delivery because of the c-section incision.  The incision site will be sore, so you will want to find lounge pants, leggings, and jeans with a stretchy waistband.  

I recommend using your pregnancy jeans and leggings with panels that come all the way up over the belly button.  Then, you don’t risk having shirts or pant lines rubbing against the incision area.  

Finally, the hospital should provide you with an abdominal support band that you can use with your maternity pants to keep the area well protected.  

Once the incision is healed, you can return to “normal” clothes and use my tips to dress your new body. 

what to wear postpartum
Stretchy Pants And Loose Cotton T’s

What To Wear In The First Days At Home

ly have fluctuating body temperatures–ahem, night sweats, anyone 🙃?–(from hormones) for the first couple of weeks.  

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to live in your maternity clothes.  Just because you aren’t carrying your baby anymore doesn’t mean you can no longer wear your favorite maternity leggings and tanks! 

Here is my list of what to wear postpartum in the first few days at home: 

  • Sports Bras: Preferably ones with nursing clasps if you choose to breastfeed.
  • Comfortable Underwear: You can buy disposable postpartum underwear, reusable postpartum underwear (similar to period underwear), and light cotton briefs.
  • High-Waisted Stretchy Pants: Leggings, joggers, sweats, yoga pants, whatever you want… As long as they are forgiving on your belly. Bonus for high-waisted options that will provide a little support for your healing tummy.  
  • Tank tops: Preferably tank tops with nursing clasps.  These can be the same tank tops that you packed for the hospital! 
  • (Optional) Postpartum Girdle/Belly Wrap: If you get clearance from your doctor, wearing a postpartum girdle can benefit you. There are minimalist options like the Original Belly Bandit that are easy to wear and comfortable.

Mom Tip: Having the right postpartum essentials for healing and recovery at home is so important.  You can make your postpartum survival kit like I did with recovery essentials like postpartum padsicles.

Clothes For Breastfeeding

You might be wondering if you need nursing clothes for breastfeeding postpartum. You can get by with essentials like nursing bras and tank tops and forget the rest.  

If you are very social and will be bringing your baby to many events, you might want to invest in a few cute nursing tops or dresses.  Otherwise, your maternity clothes and basic postpartum gear will be fine. 

What to wear postpartum. How to dress your new body after birth. Mother holding a newborn baby. mommymakerteacher.com

I lived in sweatpants and leggings with a nursing bra and cotton t-shirt for the first 3 or 4 weeks postpartum while I was breastfeeding.  

In the first weeks of breastfeeding, easy boob access is the most important part of your postpartum wardrobe.  

Plan to wear a comfortable nursing bra at home for the first few weeks.

Until you have a breastfeeding routine, I recommend avoiding clothing that is difficult to take on and off (like button-down shirts, dresses, and jeans).  You will likely get spit up on or have leaks that need to change regularly.  

Pro Tip: Avoid dresses (unless they are wrap or nursing dresses) at all costs! It is not worth the hassle of trying to lift the dress all the way up or take the dress all the way off to breastfeed. 

What To Wear In The First Six Months

what to wear postpartum black maxi dress
A Simple Black Maxi Dress And Long Necklace

After your initial recovery–no pressure here, mama–you might want to start wearing “real clothes” again.  

This is not the time to worry about your postpartum body. Focus on finding clothes that will be flattering and that you are comfortable wearing.

If there is a particular spot that you are self-conscious of, find clothes that will accentuate your best features like flowy tops or loose tops to highlight your shoulders, neck, and collarbone.

Consider dressing your body at this stage to highlight your best features while flattering any areas that have changed since pre-pregnancy. 

How to dress your postpartum body. Mom putting on a belly band sitting on a bed. mommymakerteacher.com

Take the pressure off yourself when fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans, and wear high-waist leggings, tunic tops, and sweaters that smooth your belly. 

A simple pair of black leggings should be a staple in your wardrobe during this time (if it isn’t already). 

Maxi and flowy dresses (like a-line summer dresses) will also hide your hips and belly without looking like you are trying to hide them.

Pro Tip: Sneaking away for 30 minutes to grab a shower, do your hair, and throw on some mascara and lipgloss will have you feeling like yourself again, too. 

There is much to be said about your hair, makeup routine, and accessories during this stage. 

I always felt that adding a few accessories back to my wardrobe (like a long necklace with a maxi dress or my favorite boots with my leggings) made me feel like a million dollars. 

Tips For Dressing Your Postpartum Body

So much of what your body does after you give birth is out of your control. You might be struggling with stubborn pregnancy weight, loose skin, or diastasis recti (ab separation), to name a few.

But there are definitely some “tricks of the trade” to make the ride a little less bumpy and help you feel confident in your new body.  

It might sound cliche, but everybody responds to pregnancy differently. Some women find themselves with their pre-pregnancy bodies only a few weeks after giving birth. Others (like myself) have new curves to dress in forever.  

Try not to compare yourself to anyone else during this time, and allow yourself some grace–you just grew a whole human being! 

Here are my tips for feeling confident during this time:

  • Belly Band/Shapeware: A belly band will be your best friend.  A belly band is a fabric wrap to support your muscles and organs after delivery. You can find many types online, ranging from mild support to super-supportive. It gives the illusion of a slimmer, smoother midsection, and some will give you a little more waist definition.  
  • Postpartum Jeans and Leggings: I only learned about these after my second pregnancy, and what a life-saver they were. Think of postpartum jeans and leggings like maternity leggings, except the stretchy fabric band around the belly is designed to be compressing and supportive yet still stretchy.
  • Comfortable Clothes: This means clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in! Why not invest in some staples that you will feel comfortable and confident wearing?  No one has to know that your new skinny jeans are three sizes bigger than before. 

Mom Tip: This is all definitely easier said than done, mama.  This advice is coming to you from a woman who has about half of her wardrobe full of clothes that will probably never fit even two years postpartum🤣. It’s a process, and we’re all going through it! You’re not alone.

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Hi, I'm Jacqui, founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood - from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.