I have a distinct memory from 6 years ago during my first pregnancy I went out and bought a gorgeous bright yellow nursing and maternity top. It was hugely expensive (around $120 from memory), but the colour was lovely and bold. I justified the purchase thinking that as a statement piece that I could wear throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, the cost per wear would be very low. Say 2 years of wearing once a week = just over $1 per wear. Not bad!
Unfortunately as it turned out, the gorgeous top was 100% polyester. I literally couldn't wear it without ending up red faced and sweating as pregnancy played havoc with my body temperature regulation. It sat in my wardrobe for the whole pregnancy. I tried it out again after the birth of my son, taking it out for a whirl one day. Unfortunately the breastfeeding access was awkward, and the polyester absorbed none of the leaking milk (I had very fast let down and flow!) and it ran down everywhere. It then sat in my wardrobe for another 2 years before I gathered up the courage to donate it to a second hand shop.
The lesson? Synthetic fabric is not a friend of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Reasons to avoid synthetic materials
Of course, regulating body temperature and moisture absorption are just two of a list of reasons to avoid synthetic fabrics. Some others include:
- synthetic fabrics host more smelly bacteria (interesting huh!)
- chemicals used in processing some fabrics can cause dermatitis. If this is an issue for you, organic clothing is likely to be safest.
- it takes a great deal of energy and non-renewable resources to produce synthetic fabrics. At the end of their lifetime they also don't breakdown. On the other hand cotton also requires a high level of water to grow and non-organic cotton is often sprayed with a lot of pesticides, so it's not perfect either!
Which fabrics are synthetic?
Good question, but quite a long answer. This is becoming more difficult to identify as more manufacturers find innovative ways to re-develop synthetic fabrics and semi-synthetic fabrics to be more environmentally friendly. Here are a few of the common ones:
- Polyester - is made from synthetic polymers, and is often used in "fast fashion" - clothes that are part of the current fad that will probably only last one season. Because it is made with non-renewable resources and does not break down, it is often considered non-environmentally friendly.
- Acrylic fabrics - these are also made from synthetic polymers it is often used due to good moisture wicking properties particularly in sports wear. Because it is made with petroleum and fossil fuel products and a high level of chemicals it is considered to be non-environmentally friendly
- Nylon is another polymer that is often used in camping clothes, made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
- You will also notice that the "resistant" clothes - e.g wrinkle resistant or iron free feel more synthetic, this is because they're treated with chemicals to achieve the desired result. Good to avoid particularly if you're sensitive to chemicals.
- Rayon and viscose is recycled wood pulp that is in fact, semi-synthetic. It is often treated with a lot of chemicals to produce it, HOWEVER there are many different ways to manufacture Rayon - which range from highly toxic chemical treatments and wastage through to highly environmentally friendly sustainable production.
Why Buy from Milk and Love?
Apart from the amazing customer service we strive to provide (!!) I also screen our suppliers so that we are buying clothes that are made with natural fabrics by companies that also have a strong environmental ethos. Our two main suppliers, Mothers en Vogue and Love Milk are both run by amazing women who are committed to producing clothes that don't cost the earth. They also make sure that their manufacturing processes are socially responsible, which means that people involved in the production of these clothes are being paid a fair wage, are working reasonable hours and are adults.
I am strongly motivated to leave the world a better place for my children. We strive to run our business in an environmentally responsible way by reducing waste, using recycled paper, printing less, and supporting environmentally friendly suppliers.
What Fabrics Can You Find At Milk and Love?
We have quite a range of fabrics and blended fabrics. They are all designed for pregnant and breastfeeding mums and emphasis an ability to regulate your body temperature, high moisture absorbency, and (mostly) easy wash care. They also feel fantastic!
Importantly, they are designed for a long life. With classic flattering styles, and easy breastfeeding access, they are all items you will wear over and over again.
Here are some of our most common fabrics:
Organic Bamboo - The Love Milk range is made with Organic Cotton, or Tencel, certified by GOTS
Organic Cotton - All of our breastfeeding essentials range, and nursing singlets are made with Organic Cotton, certified by Oeko-Tex to be free of harmful substances.
Modal - High quality Lenzing Modal is used in Mothers en Vogue clothes and this is made with sustainably harvested beech trees and is super soft as well. You can read more about Modal here.
Bamboo - Our bamboo maternity and nursing clothes are soft and silky and beautiful to wear. You will find blended fabrics here with bamboo, cotton and spandex for easy wash care. This fabric is rayon made with bamboo.
Cotton - Traditional cotton clothing is still a favourite with many people for easy wash care and low cost. It is quite water intensive to produce and pesticides are used during growing. You will find cotton blended with other fabrics throughout our store as well.
Do you check fabrics before buying? Have you noticed the difference between synthetic and natural fabrics?
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