You can also discuss your choices with a lactation consultant. Help answer questions Learn more.
Get help from a bra fitting expert
Many websites offer competitive deals. Best for Breasts Tempted to use your regular bra for nursing instead of a nursing bra? That's one cost-saving measure you don't want to make. Regular bras aren't designed for nursing and may not give you the extra support you need to be comfortable.
And lifting your regular bra up over your breast to nurse can put a lot of pressure on breast tissue. Recommendations The best nursing bras are comfortable and offer good support but don't bind breasts in any way that could interfere with milk flow. For optimum support, the band and the straps should be made of nonstretchy fabric. But cups should have some "give" to accommodate your changing breast size at different phases of nursing. Look for bras that are percent cotton or a blend of cotton and Lycra or other stretchy synthetic.
Since the right bra size is important and can help reduce the risk of breast-feeding complications, such as clogged milk ducts, shop at a maternity store or boutique that has an experienced bra fitter.
Talk to the Experts Every woman's body changes at different rates during pregnancy and after childbirth, and experts don't all agree on when you should get fitted for nursing bras. Pat Marcus, who founded the online company Decent Exposures after she was unable to find a comfortable bra for her larger bust, said some clients go up two cup sizes after they give birth. But in general, she says, women will find that their breasts get bigger when they first become pregnant, then their rib cage size may increase or not.
Once the baby is born, their breasts will increase again when they are ready to nurse, and then possibly decrease after a few weeks. Marcus, who nursed her four children, tells clients to get at least one good supportive nursing bra late in their pregnancy but before they give birth, since they may not feel like going out to shop once they are home with the baby, and because their breasts might leak.
Jan Barger, a Chicago-area lactation consultant and registered nurse who breast-fed her three children, recommends not buying more than one nursing bra before your baby arrives because your size could be bigger once your baby is born and your milk comes in. Barger says women should focus on getting used to nursing. To establish breast-feeding in the beginning, she says, it's actually best if you don't have much in the way.
You'll want your baby to figure out how to properly latch on by himself, which is critical. Meanwhile, you'll be figuring out the most comfortable way to hold him. But since nursing bras are important, especially to avoid leaks and protect your nipples if they become sore during feedings as they adjust to the process, Barger recommends getting something inexpensive and easy to use at first. Other experts suggest getting something similar to a sports bra, such as a "bralet," which looks like a sports bra but has less support built into it, or a nursing "sleep bra.
Once you get the hang of nursing and you're more comfortable, your size will be easier to determine. That's a great time to get professionally fitted for a nursing bra, Barger says, adding, "go out and get two or three good nursing bras. Your goal should be to find a nursing bra that gives you good support and feels comfortable.
With a little experimenting and patience, your nursing bra will become something you don't think about that often, just like your regular bra. You can also discuss your choices with a lactation consultant. To find a one in your area, contact the hospital or birth center where you'll deliver, or go to the International Lactation Consultant Association. Nursing mothers can also get support and advice from La Leche League International , a group that encourages breast-feeding through mother-to-mother support and meet-ups across the country.
Just like regular bras, you'll find a wide range of styles and prices for nursing bras. Whether you want an underwire design, a sports bra style, or a bra built into a camisole top, you can find it in a nursing bra. One innovation is the breast-pumping bra, which lets you pump milk hands-free. We haven't tested these or any other nursing bras. Closure locations vary depending on the bra, and include flaps that attach at the top near the shoulder strap, flaps that open and close between the two cups, and no flaps at all, where the cups just pull down for quick access.
Squeeze or push-type latches are usually easy to operate with one hand compared with snaps or hooks. Here are some nursing bra types you may find available:. Sleep Nursing Bras Most manufacturers have several nursing-bra lines, including models that are comfortable for sleeping or lounging in. Soft-Cup Nursing Bras You'll also see traditional, seamless "soft cup" bras, that let you lower the cups from the hook closure near the shoulder strap. Underwire Nursing Bras Some women prefer an underwire style, that has clips to open the cups quickly.
Sports Nursing Bras There are different kinds of sports nursing bras, usually wireless and made of spandex and nylon. Tank-Top Bras Nursing bras that are built into tank tops offer discreet nursing clips for quick breast-feeding access. Breast-Pumping Bras Pumping bras can replace a nursing bra or in some cases be worn over one.
They allow you to pump "hands free" with almost any brand of electric breast pump, either double or single. You can also try a pumping bustier. Support In the world of nursing bras, support is queen. The best nursing bras fasten in the back but have flaps in the front for access. They also have strong side and under-cup support, and sometimes an extra-wide back for a fit that doesn't feel tight and helps distribute the weight.
Straps should be nonstretch but adjustable. Soft-cup styles usually feature a "no roll" band, which is a plus.
Extra Support If your breasts are extra-ample, you might be a candidate for bras with extra-wide, padded shoulder straps and fuller cups.
But be sure to try them on before you buy to see if they're comfortable. Closures How you open and close the flaps on your nursing bra is important. The front flap on many nursing bras fastens at the top, near the shoulder strap.
Other nursing-bra flaps open and close between the cups. Some don't have a flap at all; the cups just pull down for quick access. Go with whichever type is easier for you to use with one hand without having to put your baby down.
Squeeze or push-type latches are easy to operate with one hand compared with snaps, which usually take two hands to close. Practice in the dressing room at the store. Adjustability Near the end of your pregnancy and in the early weeks of nursing, your breasts may enlarge, sometimes significantly, and then return to a smaller size once breast-feeding is established.
For greatest comfort, you'll want a nursing bra with adjustable straps and multiple hook positions on the band so you can adjust it for comfort. Don't be discouraged if the first bra you buy ends up not fitting; you may have to get fitted again once you start nursing, but the experts say it's worth it.
Color and Style While white is still common in nursing bras you can find pretty much any color you want now, including hot pink and prints. Some bras will look simple and utilitarian, while others might be lacy and fall more into the lingerie category. Hooter Hiders, Bebe au Lait, and most recently, Lille. Its products include burp cloths, hooded towels, luxury blankets, and nursing-cover sets, and are available through its website, specialty retailers, and national retail chains such as Babies "R" Us and Nordstrom.
Based in Toronto, this company started out with a leopard-print bra and two breast-feeding moms, about 20 years ago. Decent Exposures For more than 15 years, this Seattle-based company has been fitting women of virtually every size and shape, from 30AAA to 60J, and every size in between. Elomi Begun by its parent company, Eveden, this European company produces lingerie, including nursing bras, for the fuller-figured woman. The company has patented several innovative and fashionable designs, which include the Ok support waistband, and Hug line.
It has created innovative nursing bras, including one that adjusts to a woman's ever-changing body size. Its easy-to-open cups are mindful of the busy mom on the go.
Leading Lady Leading Lady is a nursing and full-figure intimate apparel company. For more than 70 years, Leading Lady has manufactured nursing and full-figure bras for various brands and retailers across North America. Medela Founded in in Zug, Switzerland, by Olle Larsson, the company continues under the ownership of the Larsson family.
Medela serves its customers through 15 subsidiaries distributing to more than 90 countries worldwide. Products include breast pumps and accessories, breast-feeding devices, intimate apparel, and cleaning and mom-care products. When you're a nursing, a properly fitting bra is more important than ever. You'll want comfortable ones that provide the right support, ones that don't bind, pinch, hike up in the back or front, or irritate breast tissue.
As we've said, most women experience changes in breast size during pregnancy and lactation. That's why Rebecca Aughton, who has 17 years experience in the industry, recommends that women shop for a nursing bra two weeks before their due date. Certified Bra Fitting At Aughton's Bra-vo Intimates shop, which opened 10 years ago in Royal Oak, Michigan, there's a special "nursing salon" staffed with certified maternity and nursing-bra fitters.
Pregnant or not, most women don't wear the right size bra, Aughton says, but it's even more important to get fitted when you are pregnant and nursing since that's when the bust is fullest and needs more support. Aughton recommends getting fitted for a maternity bra during pregnancy when your regular bras no longer fit.
Then, when her clients come in two weeks before their due date, Aughton and her staff fit them for a supportive nursing bra as well as a sleep bra for those early, postdelivery days.
Customers often come back and get fitted once again after they've established a nursing routine. In addition to boutiques, you can also find nursing bras at maternity shops and some department stores, both of which should have staff on hand that can help you.
And of course, once you know your correct size, you can hunt for nursing bras in catalogs or online. The Details You'll want some "give" or stretchiness in the bra cup to accommodate not only changes in your breast size, but also normal changes during the course of the day once you begin to nurse breasts will become firm with milk and softer after nursing. The band on your bra should be comfortable, but that part of the bra also needs to be firm for proper support. Buy a bra with multiple hook positions so you can adjust it if needed.
Shoulder straps should also be firm--not stretchy--for additional support and stability. You want it to feel firm, bordering on tight," she continues. When the milk first comes in, the breasts are typically filled with more milk than may be necessary. The body prepares to feed twins or triplets, and will regulate when it determines the suckling pattern only includes one baby. Opt for ultra-flexible, wire-free bras or nursing tanks to hold you over. With plenty of stretch, these options will accommodate for any breast size changes until your milk production normalizes.
The reason for this is that your breasts will be relatively close to the same size as they are several weeks post childbirth. All in all, the best time to buy nursing bras is several weeks post-birth, but you can also opt to shop for them eight months into your pregnancy if you want to be prepared sooner.
Regardless of which time frame you choose, be sure to get fitted by an expert and select a comfy, stretchy bra with sufficient adjustable closures so that you get maximum wear out of it during the breastfeeding stage. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you.
Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.
Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel.
Consider the cup
Well, you kind of can’t. You make a guess, really, and you make that guess based off your bra size late in the third trimester. And you make that guess knowing there’s definitely a chance that you won’t wear that bra again. Which basically means — don’t buy a ton of nursing bras, and don’t spend a . Many women prefer a combination of both, buying maternity bras or larger sizes of their favorite pre-pregnancy bra in the beginning and switching to nursing bras somewhere in the middle of the third trimester. If you do buy nursing bras to wear during pregnancy, make sure they give you room to grow. Entering the world of breastfeeding can be daunting, especially for a first time mum. As a specialist in maternity and nursing lingerie, Cake Maternity understands the importance of a well-fitted comfortable bra. There are five simple rules you need to follow to ensure your investment in nursing bras .