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What is a nursing tank?

Nursing tanks are a must-have if you’re breastfeeding. They are comfy and easy to wear by itself or layered under your favorite cardi. Some nursing tanks even come with a built-in bra so you don’t need to wear a nursing bra underneath!

But there is some confusion around what is a nursing tank and why you need one. This article goes through all of that and more. 

What is a nursing tank?

A nursing tank is a sleeveless or narrow-strapped top that is designed to make breastfeeding more convenient.

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What is a nursing cami?

A close cousin of the nursing tank is the nursing cami. It’s exactly like a nursing tank except that it has spaghetti straps.

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A bit like nursing bras and maternity bras, the terms nursing tank and nursing cami are often used interchangeably because they share so many common features.

These nursing tops usually have drop-down cups or double-flaps to allow you to breastfeed easily. They also tend to be stretchy to allow room for baby bumps and post-partum tummies.

Types of nursing tanks

Nursing tanks come in so many different designs but to keep things simple, there are mainly 3 types of nursing tanks:

  • nursing tanks with built-in bras – these 2-in-1 tanks function as both a top as well as a bra.
  • nursing tanks without built-in bras – these tanks look like regular tops but have discreet flaps you can pull aside easily to breastfeed.
  • Pumping tanks – these tanks allow you to pump breastmilk hands-free

How do nursing tank tops work?

Essentially, nursing tank tops allow you to nurse without exposing too much of your body and make breastfeeding easier. They are especially useful when you breastfeed in public. You can feed your baby without pulling up t-shirt or tank.

When do you use nursing tanks?

You can use nursing tanks throughout pregnancy, during breastfeeding and beyond. Most nursing tanks on the market are beautifully made and don’t look like nursing gear at all.

During pregnancy, nursing tanks stretch to cover your baby bump as it grows, then it hides your post-partum tummy until you shrink to your regular size.

If you intend to breastfeed in public, nursing tanks have the edge over regular tops are you don’t have to pull your top up to nurse.

Benefits of nursing tanks

  • Nursing tank lengths are often long to cover front and back bumps.
  • Versatile – great for wearing by itself or layering.
  • Non-wire design for maximum comfort and support.
  • Has drop-down cups or flaps for easy breastfeeding.
  • Tanks with built-in bras provides support, lift, shape and separation
  • There’s no need for separate bra and there is less clothing to pull down.
  • Double-flaps mean two layers of fabric for more discretion
  • They’re great for wearing under sweaters in the winter.
  • Easy to remove outer layer to pump, stay covered up
  • No need to pull your shirt up, exposing your tummy and breasts when you’re breastfeeding in public
  • Nursing tanks provide gentle support

Do you really need nursing tank tops?

No you don’t really need nursing tank tops. But I think they are worth it because they make breastfeeding so much easier. In fact, I would go so far as to say nursing tank tops are a must-have for new moms. If you’re on a budget, you can make your own nursing tanks.

This video by My Chocolate Moments teaches you an easy DIY way to make your own nursing top:


Further reading: Are nursing tanks necessary? 6 reasons why you need them.

How to choose the right nursing tank for you

Nursing tanks are available in a variety of styles so you can find one that suits your style and body type.

Consider these factors when choosing your nursing tank:

  • What kind of nursing tank do you need? One with a shelf-bra? A fitting one to layer? Or a loose-flowing one?
  • What kind of breast access do you prefer? Drop-down cups or pull-up flaps?
  • Look for nursing tanks with adjustable straps or ties to get a better fit
  • Made of breathable material like cotton or modal
  • A bit of stretch goes a long way
  • Machine washable because who has time to hand-wash?

Read my advice on how many nursing tanks you need and what size to buy them in

Do you wear a nursing bra with nursing tanks?

You don’t have to wear a nursing bra if you are wearing a nursing tank with a built-in shelf-bra. However, if you have large breasts or need more support, you can wear a nursing bra underneath your nursing tank. Just bear in mind that your chest area would probably look a wee bit bulky and there will be two sets of clasps to fiddle with every time you breastfeed.

If you are wearing a nursing tank without a built-in bra, then yes, you’ll need to wear a nursing bra underneath your nursing tank. Unlike your pre-breastfeeding days, your boobs will heavier and will need support only a bra can provide. You’ll also need a bra to protect against milk-leaks.

To wrap up

Nursing tanks are a must-have for any breastfeeding mom. It’s one of the most versatile pieces of clothing in your nursing wardrobe. With the variety of styles out there, all you need to do is choose the style that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Check out my review of the best nursing tanks on Amazon.

Quick links:

Sharon James

8 thoughts on “What is a nursing tank?”

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