“Where can I find nice breastfeeding tops? I can’t find any.” The origins of Milk Tops London and the unappreciated aspects of pregnancy - all of which becomes very clear when you are pregnant.
On a warm sunny day, when England was still hoping it was coming home, the two Milk Tops Co-Founders met up in the glorious Barbican Centre in London for a long overdue chat about why Milk Tops came into existence and Clare’s first-hand experiences and perceptions of pregnancy and information overload now that she is excitedly expecting her first child.
[Lucy] So Clare, first question, how did we get here?
[Clare] Here to the Barbican? Well, I got very lost, lovely isn’t it -but quite hard to navigate!
Just kidding, how did we get here? The idea for Milk Tops started a couple of summers ago when you and I were visiting some friends we’d first met whilst travelling around Thailand back in the day.
They had three baby girls between them and whilst chatting over tea they both mentioned how they felt there wasn’t anything nice for them to wear out and about when breastfeeding. The comments stuck because two weeks later we’d both been doing our research and decided to team up and explore creating something for women (and us one day!) that would fit their normal everyday pre-baby wardrobe.
What went through your mind when you were researching what was out there in the market?
For what I was able to find, I just thought it was all incredibly casual, like women who wore these clothes didn’t have anywhere to go, that they were designed for life indoors, with limited options for socialising or going to work. I know that having a child is a life-changing event and a lot of time is spent indoors, but I couldn’t see why nursing tops had to be so frumpy, unappealing, and always seemed to be patterned with flowers.
So true, I remember thinking, these clothes are saying “if you become a mum, these are the clothes you will wear”, and then saying to myself, “I don’t want to have to wear this!”. The mass market stuff we were looking at seemed to push a certain stereotype of style that personally makes me (and I’m sure I’m not alone) want to bolt in the opposite direction. We’ve all got different styles and tastes but we want clothes to look like clothes first and foremost, clothes that make you feel good; this is what we’ve really tried to capture in our first range.
Yeah, we’re very much aligned on our purpose on this, we don’t want anyone to feel pigeonholed into a stereotype that isn’t them.
And of course, this couldn’t be more relevant for you now personally, is that right?
Yup, I’m 6 months pregnant 😊
Whoop! This is so exciting. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!
“It’s not being tired all the time, it’s being exhausted.”
So now, from the horse’s mouth; can you share anything that you know now about being pregnant that you didn’t know before?
The one that has really surprised me in the first trimester and again now coming in for the third is tiredness. I’d read that it [being pregnant] would really knacker you out with an added hangover type feeling.
But it's not tiredness, it's exhaustion. You can sleep for as many hours as you want and you still don't feel rested; You can do the “simplest” of tasks and you feel absolutely shattered.
The other thing is, for someone who really likes playing sports and loves the social side of it, I’ve really missed that. I've been swimming regularly but you don’t get the sort of adrenaline rush that I used to get after a really big workout session.
The other totally random thing is pains in the rib – like someone is stabbing you, but you can’t really do anything to get rid of it. Oh well – will be worth it in the end!
“how can birth be that difficult if it already feels like everything's gonna fall out ?!”
That sounds uncomfortable and quite annoying.
Not as strange as when I ran for the train the other day (which might have been a bad decision) but I felt like my insides were going to fall out (something to do with your hips widening).
I was thinking “how can birth be that difficult if it already feels like everything's gonna fall out ?!” I’ll regret saying that, haha.
Watch this space…!
On the topic of information overload - have you experienced information overload?
Yeah definitely, although Google is ok, because you’re in control and can just put the phone down or turn off your computer. Baby shows, however, were completely different.
I went to the Baby and Toddler Show at Sandown Park, which on the whole I found really useful by the way and would recommend, just for going to see what might be needed, but it was really overwhelming – there’s so much stuff!
It’s so easy to get swept up thinking that you need everything, I think I saw every type of pushchair going, but I had to take a step back and think ‘do I really need all of these products’?
I’ve reaffirmed my position (and in fact, that of Milk Tops London too) that you don’t need everything from everyone. Take maternity clothes, for example, I’ve not bought a whole new wardrobe, I can still wear some items, but then there are other essentials that I do need like over bump jeans and a few dresses for example. I expect the same for breastfeeding.
Well luckily for you, you’ve got a whole range of breastfeeding clothes to pick from!
Haha, I know. So organised of us!
Lastly, tell us what you’re looking forward to in the next few months, personally and for Milk Tops?
Personally, really excited to meet the bump [the baby] and getting our house sorted (we decided to renovate and move out at the same time as having a baby)
I hear that’s the best time to do it, lol.
I think I’m just really excited to start a new chapter of life, hugely apprehensive about it, but mostly excited.
For Milk Tops, we’ve got a few things up our sleeves for the next 6 months so looking forward to working on these… watch this space!
We sure do! Clare, it was a pleasure talking to you today; to the next 6 months 😊
Do you have any experiences of pregnancy that took you by surprise? Or a moment of feeling information overload that you’d like to share? If so we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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