Title:
NURSING GARMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A nursing garment for wearing when breastfeeding an infant, the garment comprising a first garment layer having a front surface that leaves breasts uncovered when worn, a second garment layer connected to the first garment layer, the second garment layer overlying at least a portion of the first garment layer and covering breasts when worn, and at least one support member moveable between a non-breastfeeding position and a breastfeeding position.



Inventors:
Hayward, Rophin (Egham, GB)
Wright, Beverley (Bracknell, GB)
Application Number:
15/096459
Publication Date:
10/13/2016
Filing Date:
04/12/2016
Assignee:
Hayward Rophin
Wright Beverley
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41C3/08; A41D1/20; A41D1/215; A41D31/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MANGINE, HEATHER N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patent File, LLC (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A nursing garment, the garment comprising: a first garment layer having a front surface; a second garment layer connected to the first garment layer, the second garment layer overlying at least a portion of the first garment layer; and a support member moveable between: a) a first non-breastfeeding position, in which the second garment layer lies proximate to the front surface of the first garment layer, and b) a second breastfeeding position, in which the support member holds the second garment layer apart from the front surface of the first garment layer, providing an internal chamber between the first and second garment layers.

2. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the front surface of the first garment layer includes an aperture.

3. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the support member is disposed within an upper end of the second garment layer.

4. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the second garment layer includes a stay to support the support member in the breastfeeding position.

5. The nursing garment of claim 1, further comprising two outer support sections and a central support section, the central support section being outwardly flanked and overlain on either side by the outer support sections.

6. The nursing garment of claim 5, wherein each of the outer and central support sections is curved.

7. The nursing garment of claim 5, wherein each of the outer and central support sections is flexible and resilient.

8. The nursing garment of claim 5, further comprising drawstrings at adjacent ends of the outer support sections that overlie the central support section.

9. The nursing garment of claim 8, wherein the drawstrings are tied together to secure the support member in the first non-breastfeeding position, and untied to allow the support member to assume the second breastfeeding position.

10. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the second garment layer is connected to the first garment layer by a fastener.

11. The nursing garment of claim 10, wherein the fastener is a central fastener to connect an upper end of the second garment layer to the first garment layer.

12. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein openings are provided between the first and second garment layers for access to the internal chamber.

13. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the internal chamber is at least 10 centimetres in depth.

14. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the internal chamber includes a canopy at its upper end.

15. The nursing garment of claim 14, wherein the canopy comprises a translucent mesh.

16. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the first garment layer comprises a pocket.

17. The nursing garment of claim 1, wherein the first garment layer includes a cupped portion to provide support for a breast when worn by a user.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and the benefit of the filing date of co-pending United Kingdom Intellectual Property Patent Office Patent Application No. GB 1506242.5, filed on Apr. 13, 2015, entitled “NURSING GARMENT”, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a nursing garment, and more particularly to a nursing garment for breastfeeding an infant in public.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Breastfeeding is a natural way for a mother to feed her child during the first months of its life. Some mothers choose to bottle-feed their babies, either using breast milk collected via a breast pump (which can be impersonal and uncomfortable) or using so-called ‘formula’ milk. However, whilst it is socially acceptable to bottle-feed a baby in public, it is often considered much less socially acceptable to breastfeed in public. Babies need to be fed often, and if a mother is away from home with her baby, it can therefore be difficult and stressful to find a place to breastfeed discreetly, without drawing unwanted attention.

Currently, several options are available to mothers who wish to breastfeed when not at home, but all have drawbacks. Washrooms (or baby changing areas, if available) offer a secluded space to breastfeed, but these are typically unhygienic. Alternatively, breastfeeding in a car may be private, but anti-social if the mother and baby must return frequently, interrupting a day trip, for example.

Nursing tops and breastfeeding aprons are available, along with cloths (e.g. muslin), shawls and slings, all of which offer varying compromises between the discreetness and ease of breastfeeding. However, these still leave the mother's breast(s) or midriff publicly exposed, even if temporarily, which may be embarrassing and draw unwanted attention, and some of these options can be restrictive to the baby, causing distress. Furthermore, the mother must remember to take one of the above before leaving the house, and must be carrying it when the baby needs to be fed.

It is an object of the present invention to reduce or substantially obviate the aforementioned problems.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to some embodiments of the present invention, there is provided a nursing garment for wearing when breastfeeding an infant, the garment comprising a first garment layer having a front surface that leaves breasts uncovered when worn, a second garment layer connected to the first garment layer, the second garment layer overlying at least a portion of the first garment layer and covering breasts when worn, and at least one support member moveable between a non-breastfeeding position, in which the second garment layer lies in close proximity to the front surface of the first garment layer, and a breastfeeding position, in which the at least one support member holds the second garment layer apart from the front surface of the first garment layer, providing an internal chamber between the garment layers.

Advantageously, the garment allows for discreet breastfeeding whilst allowing the mother to retain her modesty, keeping her breasts and midriff concealed. The garment functions as a conventional top, so no additional devices or materials are required, nor can be forgotten, if needing to breastfeed outside the home. The ease of use of the extendable and retractable second garment layer allows for breastfeeding without needing to find an isolated area, such as a washroom. It therefore greatly reduces the stress, embarrassment and/or inconvenience associated with breastfeeding in a public place.

The front surface of the first garment layer may include at least one aperture at breast level for breasts to pass through when worn, providing unrestricted access for a baby to suckle.

The support member may be disposed at an upper end of the second garment layer.

Preferably, a closed pocket is stitched into the upper end, in which the support member may be disposed. The upper end of the second garment layer lies at or above the breast level in use, to conceal the breasts exposed by the first garment layer. Placing the support member at the upper end ensures that, when moved or expanded into the breastfeeding position, the volume of the internal chamber is maximised, raising the second garment layer away from the breasts to provide access for breastfeeding. Having the support member within a closed pocket is advantageous because the pocket allows the support member to slide within it, maintaining its position at the upper end of the second garment layer.

The second garment layer may include one or more stays to support the at least one support member in the breastfeeding position. Preferably, there are two stays provided as a halter, i.e. passing behind the user's neck in use. The stays may connect to two or more points on the upper end of the second garment layer. In the breastfeeding configuration, the stays prevent the support member from slipping below the level of the breasts and exposing them.

The support member may include two outer support sections and a central support section. The central support section may be outwardly flanked and overlain on either side by the outer support sections. Each outer support section may be curved. The central support section may be curved. Preferably, each outer support section is flexible and resilient. More preferably, the central support section is flexible and resilient.

An arrangement of support sections in this manner provides a mechanism for switching the support member between a breastfeeding position, or a non-breastfeeding position. In the non-breastfeeding position, the garment has the appearance of a conventional top. Having curved, flexible and/or resilient members allows the garment to sustain repeated use, and enables the mechanism to function i.e. create the internal chamber on demand, with the central section bearing against the outer sections (and vice versa). The outer support sections can slide within the stitched pocket towards or away from each other, in front of the central support section, providing a collapsible support structure.

Drawstrings may be provided, one drawstring attached to each outer support section. The drawstrings may be provided at ends of the outer support sections which overlie the central support section. The drawstrings allow the mother to control whether the garment is worn in a breastfeeding configuration, or a non-breastfeeding configuration. In other words, from having the support member in the breastfeeding position, the drawstrings may be pulled outwardly to collapse the support member, and then tied together to secure the support member in the non-breastfeeding position. Equally, from having the support sections in the non-breast-feeding position, the drawstrings may be untied and the second garment layer pulled outwardly to cause the support member to enter the breastfeeding position.

One or more openings may be provided between the first and second garment layers for access to the internal chamber. Preferably, there are side openings on the left- and right-hand sides of the garment, between the first and second garment layers. Alternatively or additionally, there may be a base opening between the garment layers. This allows the mother to pass the baby into the internal chamber, holding the baby using either arm. This in turn enables the mother to suckle the baby at either breast depending on her preference.

The second garment layer may be connected to the first garment layer by one or more fasteners. The fasteners may include one or more central fasteners to connect the upper end of the second garment layer to the first garment layer. This prevents the second garment layer from sagging relative to the first garment layer, which might otherwise allow the wearer's breasts to be exposed when the support member is in the non-breastfeeding position.

The fasteners may include one or more side fasteners to connect the sides of the second garment layer to the first garment layer. The side fastener(s) prevent a gust of wind, for example, from blowing the second garment layer aside and exposing the wearer's breasts. The side fasteners may be toggles or Velcro (®), for example. Alternatively, the layers may be stitched together along a portion of the sides where they meet.

The body-facing side of the second garment layer may be formed of or covered in a soft and/or low-friction material. This reduces irritation and chafing on the exposed breasts below it, which may be tender before and/or after breastfeeding. Preferably, the body-facing side of the second garment layer is an auxiliary water-absorbent layer of the second garment layer, to conceal wetness arising from uncontrolled lactation, for example.

The internal chamber may be substantially at least 10 centimetres in depth. This is the minimum depth needed to provide space for the baby to suckle (i.e. breastfeed) comfortably when held within the internal chamber by the mother. Preferably, the internal chamber is substantially 20 centimetres in depth, providing more room to accommodate a larger baby, for example, without being particularly conspicuous.

The internal chamber may include a canopy at its upper end. Preferably, the canopy is a translucent mesh or gauze to allow the mother and baby to have eye contact, which is important for bonding with and soothing the baby. Alternatively, the canopy may be transparent. Preferably the materials used to make the canopy, and first and second garment layers, are hypoallergenic.

The first garment layer may include at least one pocket to carry tissues or breast pads. The pocket may be under the second garment layer. Preferably, the pocket is located towards the bottom of the front surface of the first layer for easy access. The pocket(s) may be accessed via the side openings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the present invention, and to show more clearly how it may be carried into effect, reference will now be made by way of example only to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a front view of a first embodiment of a nursing garment according to the invention in a non-breastfeeding configuration;

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a first layer of the nursing garment of FIG. 1 in isolation;

FIG. 3A shows a perspective view of the nursing garment of FIG. 1 in a breastfeeding configuration;

FIG. 3B shows hidden features of the nursing garment of FIG. 3A;

FIG. 4A shows a plan view from above of a support member of the nursing garment of FIG. 1 in isolation, configured in a non-breastfeeding position; and

FIG. 4B shows a plan view from above of the support member of FIG. 4A configured in a breastfeeding position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Referring firstly to FIGS. 1 to 3B, a nursing garment is indicated generally at 10.

The garment 10 is shown in a non-breastfeeding configuration in FIG. 1. The garment 10 may be adapted into a breastfeeding configuration indicated in FIG. 3A. The garment 10 includes a first fabric underlayer 12 and a second fabric overlayer 14. Together, the underlayer 12 and overlayer 14 have the aesthetic appearance of a normal top in the non-breastfeeding configuration. The overlayer 14 covers a portion of the front and sides of the underlayer 12.

The underlayer 12 includes a front surface 12a. An aperture 16 is provided through the front surface 12a, sized and shaped to permit the breasts of a mother wearing the top to be exposed through the underlayer 12. The front surface 12a also includes a pocket 18 at its lower end, which lies near waist height when worn, providing quick and easy access to its contents.

The overlayer 14 has an upper end 14a which lies above the aperture 16 when worn, lying above the breasts of the mother to conceal them. The upper end 14a is enclosed and contains a support member indicated generally at 18 (in FIG. 4A) for moving the garment 10 between non-breastfeeding and breastfeeding configurations. Specifically, the upper end 14a is a closed channel (i.e. a stitched pocket) in which the support member 18 is located.

The support member 18 includes a central support section 18a and two outer support sections 18b. Together, these support sections 18a, 18b can be moved between non-breastfeeding and breastfeeding positions corresponding to the respective configurations of the garment 10. The central section 18a is mounted in a fixed position within the closed channel, so that it remains central with respect to the outer sections 18b, and does not become displaced towards either.

The upper end 14a of the overlayer 14 is connected to two stays 20a, 20b. The stays 20a, 20b form a halter, passing around the neck of the mother when worn (shown as passing around the collar in FIGS. 1 and 3A). The stays 20a, 20b are load-bearing in the breastfeeding configuration, holding the expanded support member 18 in place to prevent it from falling downwards under gravity.

Drawstrings 22 are included on each of the outer support sections 18b. Each drawstring 22 is connected to an end of its respective support section 18b, the ends being adjacent and each overlying the central support section 18a. The drawstrings 22 are strung through eyelets (not shown) provided in the upper end 14a, draping downwards over the overlayer 14. The drawstrings 22 can be tied together (as seen in

FIG. 1, for example) to arrange the garment 10 in a non-breastfeeding configuration, or untied (as seen in FIG. 3) to arrange the garment 10 in a breastfeeding configuration.

The second garment layer 14 has a central tab 24 which can be used to pull the support member 18 outwards into its breastfeeding position. The different components of the garment 10 are connected by fasteners. Stitching may also be used to connect the layers 12, 14 together in some places. The tab 24 includes a press stud 24a (commonly known as a popper) to connect with a corresponding portion on the underlayer 12. Second and third press studs 26a, 26b are also provided on the respective stays 20a, 20b for connection with corresponding portions on the underlayer 12.

Fasteners in the form of first and second toggles 28a, 28b (in FIG. 1) are further provided at the lower left- and lower right-hand sides of the overlayer 14, connecting the overlayer 14 to the underlayer 12 at certain points. This provides side openings (not shown) between the layers 12, 14.

In the breastfeeding configuration, the overlayer 14 is held apart from the underlayer 12 by the support member 18. In so doing, this creates an internal chamber in between the front surface 12a of the underlayer 12 and the inside of the overlayer 14. The internal chamber is open at its base. The internal chamber is covered at its top by a canopy 30. The canopy 30 is a translucent mesh which is stretched substantially taut in the breastfeeding configuration.

Referring also to FIGS. 4A and 4B, the support member 18 for switching between non-breastfeeding and breastfeeding positions is shown in greater detail. The central support section 18a is a plastic strip. Each of the outer support sections 18b is a plastic strip, each one being a mirror image of the other in shape. The central section 18a is flexible and resilient. The outer support sections 18b are similarly flexible and resilient. The outer sections 18b are cantilevered with respect to the layers 12, 14 such that the drawstring ends are free within the upper end 14a and the other ends are fixed within the upper end 14a, by stitching, for example. The support sections 18a, 18b are held in curved arrangements within the stitched pocket of the upper end 14a.

In the non-breastfeeding position, the central support section 18a is flattened against the torso of the wearer when the drawstrings 22 have been tied, as in FIG. 4A. When the drawstrings 22 are untied, pulling the tab 24 outwardly in the direction of arrow A causes the central section 18a to bear against the outer support sections 18b.

The drawstring ends of the outer sections 18b are then displaced away from each other due to their cantilevered arrangement, and the support member 18 enters its breastfeeding position (FIG. 4B). The central section 18a remains central as it is fixed in place within the upper end 14a.

In the breastfeeding position, pulling outwardly on the drawstrings 22 will bring the outer sections 18b towards each other, with the drawstrings 22 bearing against the eyelets. During this process, the outer sections 18b bear against the central section 18a, collapsing it towards the torso of the wearer. When the second garment layer is sufficiently close to the torso, the wearer can then tie the drawstrings 22 together to maintain the relative positions of the support sections 18a, 18b, with the support member 18 back in its non-breastfeeding position.

In use, a mother will put on the garment 10 as a top, tying the drawstrings 22 and fastening the fasteners to provide the appearance of a conventional top, i.e. the non-breastfeeding configuration, with the stays 20a, 20b to either side of (and linked behind) her neck as a halter. When needing to breastfeed her baby in public, the mother can untie the drawstrings 22, release the poppers 24a, 26a, 26b and pull the tab 24 outwards with just one hand, moving the overlayer 14 away from the underlayer 12 into the breastfeeding configuration.

The mother can then carefully pass her baby through one of the side openings and into the internal chamber, where the baby can latch onto and suckle one of her breasts. If needed, she can switch arms via the side openings, and also switch the baby onto the other breast. The side openings also provide easy access to the pocket 18, to use tissues or breast pads as needed. Once the baby is satiated, the mother can remove the baby from the chamber. Then, pulling outwardly on the drawstrings, the outer support sections 18b are brought together in front of the central section 18a, bearing against the central section 18a in the process to collapse it with them. After re-fastening the poppers 24a, 26a, 26b, the garment 10 is back in its non-breastfeeding state.

It will be appreciated that, within the scope of the claims, other embodiments of nursing garment are envisaged. For example, an alternate embodiment may have a support member with four or five (or more) support sections. The shape and structure of the support member may, in such a case, provide for a support member which folds flatter when the garment is not being worn, and instead is hung on a clothes rail.