Jul 19th 2009

Milk Nursingwear

Demystifying nursing bras

Do you find shopping for nursing bras confusing? You are not alone! How are you supposed to know what and when to buy? Let us help.

What is the difference between a nursing bra and a maternity bra?

Enlarged breasts are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Because breasts get larger during pregnancy, and since they have only ligaments and no muscle, they can be stretched if not properly supported. Maternity and nursing bras are both designed and constructed to offer added support for pregnancy and nursing. What makes a nursing bra different from a maternity bra is that it also provides access to each breast for breastfeeding, via a drop-down or move aside cup. A nursing bra can also be worn as a maternity bra during pregnancy (and later, of course, for nursing).

When should I buy a maternity or nursing bra?

As soon as your current bra feels tight, it is time to purchase your first maternity bra. Many women choose to be professionally fitted for their first maternity bra to ensure a good fit. Do not be tempted to purchase a bra with "room to grow," so that you do not need to purchase a larger bra later. It is important to wear a bra that fits even if you may need to purchase larger ones later. Some bras are sized to fit a range of cup sizes to fit you during pregnancy and after for nursing.

The right time to purchase a nursing bra for breastfeeding is around the 36th week of pregnancy to ensure a good fit once your milk comes in after birth.

There are so many kinds of nursing bras - how do I choose?

It's actually not as complicated as it seems, nursing bras can be divided into these categories:

  • sleep bras - they provide extra support, as well as a place for a nursing pads, while sleeping. They make night feedings much easier by proving easy access for feedings.
  • daytime underwire nursing bras - larger busted women may prefer the added support of an underwire style. Some lactation professionals discourage underwire nursing bras for concern that they can interfere with milk production or contribute to mastitis or plugged ducts. If the underwires press on the milk ducts they may interfere with your milk flow. Others lactation professionals believe underwire nursing bras are fine.
  • daytime softcup bras - softcup bras have no underwire. Some softcup bras are molded, meaning they have light padding. This may help give a smoother look under closer cut tops and dresses.
  • exercise bras - designed for extra support while exercising. Non-nursing workout bras are particularly difficult to nurse in so a workout bra is helpful. Some are constructed for lower impact workouts and others for high impact. Make sure you know what you are getting.

How do I determine my size?

There are many ways of selecting your bra size and its actually more of an art than a science. Click here for our recommendation on how to measure yourself.

Nursing bras have come a long way in terms of style - no longer boring and only solid white, you can find a variety of designs and colors.

Do you have any tips to share on selecting a nursing bra? Brands and styles that you recommend? Post your comments here so that other moms can benefit!