Who Says A Nursing Bra Can't Be Sexy?

A new item has come along to confuse the populace about whether breasts are for titillation or feeding babies: The sexy nursing bra. The items themselves aren't really revolutionary. They look the same as any other lingerie, but the cups snap open and there may be an extra hook in the back. However, since nursing women have been forced into hideous utilitarian undergarments for years, seeing a pregnant woman in a bra covered in pretty fabric and a bit of lace is controversial.

Australian and British companies have marketed lingerie to women who are pregnant and nursing for years, but The New York Times reports that the concept is just catching on in the U.S. In the past few years, companies like You Lingerie, Cake, and HOTmilk have started offering nursing bras with rhinestones and frills, and occasionally matching thongs. Several new mothers tell the Times that they tried the traditional white, utilitarian nursing bras but they made them feel frumpy and depressed about their looks. Elisabeth Dale, founder of the bra review/health site The Breast Life, says that most maternity bras are matronly due to the stigma surrounding breastfeeding:

When your breasts "are in work mode, they don't get to wear nice fabrics," she said wryly, adding that you're "sterilizing" your breasts "by putting them in a boring white milk curtain."

Though numerous moms offer testimonials about feeling sexier and more like themselves when they're wearing something similar to the attractive underwear they wore pre-pregnancy, some manufacturers of traditional nursing bras insist new moms don't want to look sexy:

But Kathryn From, the managing director of Bravado, a no-frills line owned by Medela, the breast-pump maker, which is carried in 700 outlets nationwide, is skeptical that such daring items will do much business in the long run. "The No. 1 best seller in North America are smooth cupped nude bras," she said, adding of her core customer: "We are much more your girlfriend who lives next door. She's confident, and great, but isn't overtly sexual."

From does present some strong evidence. For years nursing moms had a choice between ugly bras or no bras, and they seem to strongly prefer ugly bras!

She isn't the only one who's totally befuddled by the idea of women wanting to feel and look sexy once being a mother has become their sole function in life. The Times notes:

Indeed, the curious might wonder whether sleep-deprived women facing the challenges of postpartum life are buying lingerie in hopes of actually spurring desire.

But some of the customers of HOTmilk and its ilk said that they were still interested in sex, despite the demands of motherhood.

Intriguing! We were wondering how women manage to become pregnant again and again, even after they've transformed into frazzled mommies. Apparently breasts can be functional and fun, and there's really no garment that encapsulates that unnecessarily confusing concept better than an ultra-sexy bra that makes it easier for women to nurse.

Nursing Bras That Show Mothers in More Than ‘Work Mode' [NYT]

Images via You Lingerie, HOTmilk, and Cake.