Nursing and maternity bra shopping can be an overwhelming experience. And why wouldn’t it be? When both your rib cage and breast size changes, it can be difficult to know what to expect, and how to find a bra that will be supportive, comfortable – and most of all functional!
Most women will find that their breasts will increase in cup size anywhere from to two to five cup sizes. But that’s not the only change women will experience – rib cage circumference also increases during pregnancy to make room for your growing baby, and after baby arrives it will slowly return to an (almost!) pre-pregnancy size.
So what should you look for when searching out a nursing bra? Here are some tips to help!
If you have a specialty store nearby with lots of experience fitting nursing bras, try to hit there first (word to the wise – if their bra sizes stop at DD/E they may not be as experienced and educated as you might need). Getting a Certified Fitter to size you can make your nursing bra shopping experience a far better one!
Getting a great fitting bra is important not only for comfort and support, but it also decreases your chances of getting plugged ducts and mastitis, which can be agonizing and discouraging while breastfeeding.
Comfort should be key the last few weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks postpartum. Underwire is not recommended during the first few weeks after baby arrives because your cup size is changing daily – even hourly! Padded bras can also restrict the breast from being able to comfortably fluctuate in size as your breasts get ready to feed your newborn.
- If you are shopping for a nursing bra during pregnancy, ensure there is room to comfortably grow through the rib cage, you should still be able to comfortably (but snugly!) fit two finger widths underneath the bottom of the band.
- Be prepared to try on 3 different sizes and styles – all nursing bras are not created equal! Sizes can fluctuate greatly between brands and many women may need to get fitted into a full or medium support bra to help support the weight of the breast.
Style and Function
Looking for something pretty and functional? There are plenty of fabulous nursing bra brands on the market now, so know that nursing bras can be comfortable and sexy! Our top picks for comfortable nursing bras:
- Bravado! Designs Body Silk Seamless Bra
- Bella Materna Anytime Bralet
- Elle Macpherson Maternelle Bra
Looking for a fabulously cute nursing bra? Check out:
- Amoralia Nougatine Bra
- Royce Lauren Bra
- HotMilk Her Midnight Charm was Enchanting (oh so sexy!)
Quality and Quantity
Most women need between three and six nursing bras, but this can depend largely on if you leak frequently, how much leaking you experience (leaking a lot, and not at all are both VERY normal!), and whether you feel you need a sleep bra. And if you plan on breastfeeding for at least a year, know that the investment you make on a few great nursing bras will pay for itself many times over – the average monthly cost of supplementing is equal to that of three affordable nursing bras!
Stacy Mulcahy is the owner of Tiny Fingers Tiny Toes, a nursing and maternity boutique in Maple Ridge, BC. With the largest selection of nursing bras in BC (we carry up to L-cup), and three certified bra fitters on staff, they pride themselves on having a nursing bra to meet your needs!