You wear your bra every day, all day – so having a nursing bra that fits properly and supports you well is key to having a great day. The difficult part – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every mom and mom-to-be has different needs and different preferences. So how will you find a great bra? Here are some tips.
1) It is essential to know what size you are. Did you know that studies suggest that over 70% of women are wearing the wrong size bra? If you are pregnant or if you just had a baby – that number is probably even higher. Your body is going through some pretty big changes – so even if you knew your size before… chances are you don’t anymore. Get Fitted! If you have a local bra boutique – even if they don’t sell nursing bras – go and get fitted so that you know what size you are. If you don’t have a local resource for getting a fitting (or if it’s just too difficult to get out with the kiddos in tow), then sign up for a Virtual Bra Fitting.
Are you currently pregnant? The type of bra that you’ll want to look at if you are pregnant is different than what you’ll look at if you aren’t. If your baby is still baking, you’ll want something that offers flexibility. Most women, on average, go up 1-2 cup sizes from their pre-pregnancy size to their nursing size. But you can’t just buy a bra in the next size up – because this is an average – and you want to be sure you get one that is going to fit you – if you change a lot, a little or not at all. This is where “flexible” sizing becomes really important. Bras that are sized small, medium, large – instead of particular cup sizes – will offer more flexibility in the sizes that they can fit. Bras without an underwire also have more flexibility because the cup can move and change shape as your body changes. Once you put an underwire in the cup, there isn’t much flexibility left, so save the underwire for after the baby comes and you know what size you are going to end up at. Here are some of our favorite bras for a mom who is currently pregnant:
Body Silk Seamless: This bra is fabulous because it has flexible sizing and still offers great support. You can get one that will fit you now, after your milk comes in and it will even fit you if you end up changing size from morning to night!
Anytime Tee-shirt Bralet: Another great option. This bra can be worn day or night – it has removable padding – so you can take it out if you don’t like it and it offers moderate support – so it is comfy for the early days when you really wish you didn’t have to wear anything. Nursing access is easy pull-to-the-side – no clips to fumble with. And it has two size ranges – regular and full-cup – so it works for moms with large busts and small busts.
Tee-Shirt Underwire Bra: And for those of you who just can’t get by without an underwire – this bra is great – it has a padded underwire – so the underwire will probably be one of the most comfortable that you have ever worn! And it has THREE nursing clips – so you can actually adjust the size of the cup – just by changing where you put the nursing clips. It does run big, so most mom’s get one band size smaller than they usually wear (if you are a 36D, get the 34D in this one!). And it goes up to an F cup – which means it will fit up to G cup because of the adjustable nursing clips!
Another thing to keep in mind when you are pregnant is that your band size may increase because of your expanding belly and rib-cage – but it will likely go back to it’s pre-pregnancy size within a month or two after your baby arrives. So, instead of buying bras with bigger bands – you can get more out of your bras by getting bra extenders instead. They will enable you to make your bras last longer and still be comfortable.
3) What if I have a Big Cup Size: Are you blessed with larger than an F cup? If so, the selection gets slim fast – but there are still some great options out there for moms with larger busts. You can get underwire bras in up to a K cup and non-underwire bras in up to an M or N cup – so no matter what size you are – there is something for everyone! Some moms with large cup sizes find the straps uncomfortable. In order to get good lift, you have to wear your straps snug – but then they can dig into your shoulders. Strapeez Bra Strap pads are great for this – they spread the weight – so that your bra straps aren’t digging in and they also keep them from falling off of your shoulders. Perfect for any mom – nursing or not!
Some of our favorite big-girl bras are:
- For a seamless cup with underwire – we love the Elomi Smoothing Bra, Bella Materna and the Anita Bras.
- In a wire-free bra – we love Bella Materna, Cake and Goddess .
- And you can even get some pretty selections too – with and without an underwire!
4) Should I wear an underwire? Most lactation consultants recommend avoiding underwire for the first 6 weeks post-partum. During this time – your body is making milk based on hormones that were released during child birth. At around the 6-week mark, your body will switch from hormone-based milk production to supply and demand (NOTE: many moms will notice a dip in their supply at this time – this is NORMAL as your body switches to making only what your baby needs). After 6 weeks, it is typically safe to go back to wearing underwire bras. If you have a properly fitting bra, you should be able to wear an underwire whenever you want. But do take note that the underwire will put pressure on your milk ducts – so you’ll want to massage them to make sure you don’t get any clogs forming. If you have ever had mastitis or if you have a history of clogged ducts, it is best to avoid underwires while you are nursing. Once you have had these conditions, they are more likely to recur and since underwire bras tend to put more pressure on your milk ducts, it is best to avoid them.
5) What about while sleeping? Are sleep bras required? Most moms wear sleep bras to hold nursing pads in place. Since waking up in a puddle isn’t fun or comfortable, if you leak, you’ll probably want to get either a sleep bra or nursing tank to sleep in. Even moms who don’t leak may find that a sleep bra offers additional comfort and support. When your breasts are full of milk, they can get heavy – so having that gentle support while sleeping can be very comforting – even if you don’t need the bra to hold nursing pads in place. Be sure to get a bra designed for sleeping – as you should never sleep in your daytime bras. Daytime bras offer too much support for sleeping. For sleeping – you really just need something that offers very gentle support – enough to hold nursing pads in place, but not enough to offer support that you would want during the day.
Preferences are important too! Remember that everyone has personal preferences. So what you like may not be what someone else likes. And a bra that works for one mom may not work for another. Remember to think about these things when picking out your bras. Do you like pretty bras, do want underwire, do you need something plain so that it goes with everything? Do you want high support, moderate support or something for lounging? All of these questions will lead you to pick out different bras. It can be overwhelming – so seek out professional advice whenever you need it – it’s typically only an email (or blog post) away.
Questions? You can contact Judy through her maternity and breastfeeding boutique (A Mother’s Boutique) or via her parenting and breastfeeding blog Mommy News and Views. She’s also available on Facebook and Twitter.