Saba Karamas is the Chief Operating Officer at Abilitee Adaptive Wear. Before joining the team, she spent eight years working in fashion design in NYC and earned her MBA from Texas McCombs at UT Austin. After learning about adaptive clothing needs from her niece Eva, she found out about Abilitee and wanted to come on board!
Saba is the mother of Ori, a one-year-old who loves to explore outside, read books, eat all the time, and cause a general ruckus. She shares a personal account as a new mom and her experience breastfeeding, as well as the adaptive clothing solution she found to help with some of the challenges.
As a first time mom, there were lots of challenges that I expected, but one I didn’t anticipate was breastfeeding. Although I took the classes, read the books, and watched the videos online, I still wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. Aside from the challenge of getting the correct latch and finding a comfortable feeding position for my son and me, there was a big mental hurdle that I had to overcome.
Some women enjoy breastfeeding and develop a deep bond with their baby during that time. That wasn’t my experience. I felt emotionally drained, like I was constantly required to submit to a task that neither me nor my baby seemed to enjoy. I hated wearing ugly nursing tops, but regular clothes got in the way, and I had enough trouble getting a good latch as it was. Pumping and bottle feeding was a little easier when I was at home, but on the road, pumping became tricky. When my son was three months old, I traveled to New York City for a 2-day conference and had to pump throughout the conference.
There are a lot of parts to deal with when pumping. The flanges, tubes, motor, and bottles are all required to be set up before you start pumping. You then hook yourself up to the contraption for 15-30 minutes. Next comes cleaning and properly storing the milk. Then repeat 3-4 hours later. Now imagine doing all that in a public restroom because there’s nowhere else for you to pump. Enter the Recovery Blouse.
The Abilitee Recovery Blouse was inspired by a breast cancer survivor. We designed a Kimono wrap style that would be easy to put on if you couldn’t raise your arms above your head. The shoulder snaps provide convenient access to chest ports, and the interior pockets hold drainage bulbs, tissues, or medicine. Features like these are versatile enough to provide purpose beyond the original intent. That’s the great thing about inclusive design - everyone can benefit from it, not just a specific population.
Also available at Zappos Adaptive
Because the Recovery Blouse is a dressy style, I was able to wear it to my conference without anyone knowing it was my pumping top. The shoulder snaps opened far enough to provide access to my nursing bra and pumping equipment without making me feel half-naked in a bathroom stall for 20 minutes. The interior pockets held the pump so I could move around without accidentally yanking on the tubes and pulling them out. When I was done, after cleaning the pumping equipment and storing my milk in a cooler, I just snapped up the shoulders, and I was ready to go back to work.
Even though I’m done breastfeeding, I can still wear the Recovery Blouse because it doesn’t look like an adaptive item, it just looks like a cute top. I’m grateful that I was able to have a stylish option to wear during this time. As a frazzled new mom, it’s great to have one less thing to worry about!
Resources on breastfeeding: