As your pregnancy progresses, your breasts become larger and heavier, and proper support becomes even more important. Towards your third trimester, and sometimes sooner, you will need to move from your regular bra to a Maternity or a Maternity and Nursing bra, which is designed and constructed to offer the added support needed.
How is a nursing bra different from a maternity bra?
The difference between a nursing bra and a maternity bra is the ease of access to the breast for feeding. Most breastfeeding moms consider a nursing bra a necessity. Each cup can be dropped down or pulled aside to nurse. Purchasing a nursing bra during pregnancy is wise since it performs double duty - acting as a supportive bra during pregnancy and then functioning for convenient breastfeeding access once the baby is born.
When should I buy a nursing bra?
The right time to purchase a nursing brafor breastfeeding is around the 36th week of pregnancy to ensure a good fit once your milk comes in after birth. Many women choose to be professionally fitted for their first nursing bra. Do not be tempted to purchase a bra with "room to grow," so that you do not need to purchase a larger bra later. A bra that is too big will not provide you with the support you need. It is important to wear a bra that fits even if you may need to purchase more at a later date. Remember, some bras are sized to fit a range of cup sizes.
What kind of nursing bra should I choose?
- sleep bras - These bras provide extra support, as well as a place for nursing pads, while sleeping. They make night feedings much easier by allowing easy access for breastfeeding. They are typically pull aside as opposed to drop down cups.
- 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 can interfere with your milk flow. Other lactation professionals believe underwire nursing bras are fine. Please, check with your lactation consultant to see what she advises.
- 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- These bras are designed for extra support while exercising. Non-nursing workout bras are particularly difficult to nurse in so a exercise bra is helpful. Some are constructed for lower impact workouts and others for high impact. Make sure that you know what you are getting.
There are many ways of selecting your bra size, and it's actually more of an art than a science. Whichever style you choose, proper fit is the key to comfort. Besides being uncomfortable, a bra that fits poorly may put pressure on your milk ducts, which can cause them to get plugged and lead to inflammation in the breast. Click here for our recommendation on how to measure yourself.
Tips to remember:
- Purchase at least 3 bras: one to wear, one to have ready, and one to wash.
- Look for a bra that provides easy, one-handed access with lots of support.
- The band should fit on the last hook when you buy your first nursing bra. After birth, once engorgement subsides, you will get smaller and this will allow you to adjust the band tighter as needed.
- While nursing, your breasts will fill with milk and empty throughout the day. Look for a bra with spandex to allow for these changes.
- Don’t forget to purchase nursing pads. Women who breastfeed often need a pad in their bra to prevent leaking.
Remember, nursing bras have come a long way in terms of style. They are no longer boring and only solid white, you can find a variety of designs and colors. Click here for the Milk Nursingwearfull line of nursing bras.