June 10, 2024 / by Emma Jones

When expecting a baby, many women focus on purchasing baby gear, overlooking the importance of mum’s gear too. One crucial item for new mothers is a quality maternity bra. Unlike regular bras, these bras are specially designed to support a woman’s changing body during postpartum and, once the baby arrives, make breastfeeding easier. 

How Are Nursing Bras Different From Regular Bras?

pregnancy bra
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Nursing bras are crafted with specific features to accommodate the physiological changes a woman’s body undergoes during maternity and nursing. They usually come with cups that can be easily opened or folded down, thanks to clasps or panels. This design allows for quick and easy breastfeeding without the need to remove the bra. Apart from this ease of use, they also offer:

  • Enhanced Support: Due to increased breast size during pregnancy and breastfeeding, nursing bras provide extra support with wider straps, a broader under-bust band, and a more supportive cup design. This is crucial to prevent discomfort and strain on the back and shoulders.
  • Flexible Sizing: They are made from stretchable fabrics that can adjust to size fluctuations in breast size, common throughout the breastfeeding period.
  • Comfort and Softness: Made with soft, breathable materials and without underwires (or with specially designed soft wires), a high-quality breastfeeding bra prioritises comfort, which is essential as the breasts can be tender during this period.

What to Look For in a Breastfeeding Bra?

Choosing the right nursing bra is not just about finding a bigger version of your regular bra. Here are the factors to consider:

  • Fit: The most crucial aspect of a nursing bra is its fit. It should not be too tight, as this can obstruct milk flow and cause issues like mastitis. However, it shouldn’t be too loose either, as adequate support is essential.
  • Material: Look for breathable, soft fabrics that keep moisture away from the body. Good choices are cotton, modal, and bamboo. Avoid synthetic materials that might trap moisture and cause discomfort.
  • Adjustability: Because breast size can change throughout the day as milk comes in and is expressed, adjustable straps and closure options (like multiple hook-and-eye closures in the back) can provide flexibility and comfort.
  • Ease of Use: The nursing clips should be easy to open and close with one hand, as you’ll often be holding your baby in the other.
  • Support: For larger breasts, support becomes even more critical. Ensure the under-bust band is wide and sturdy, and that the cups hold the entire breast without any spillage.
  • Style: Nursing bras come in various styles, including t-shirt bras, tank-style bras, and bras with built-in pads. Choose styles that fit your wardrobe needs.

Different Styles

Classic pregnancy bras are designed to offer increased comfort and support as your breasts grow and change shape. Leak-proof or leak-resistant nursing bras are indispensable, especially postpartum, to manage milk leaks efficiently. These bras incorporate absorbent padding or come with pockets that can hold nursing pads. For active women, a maternity sports bra is a must. This type of bra is designed to provide extra support during physical activities, but with the gentleness required during pregnancy and nursing.

Plus Size Nursing Bras

Finding a comfortable, supportive breastfeeding bra can be particularly challenging for plus-size women. Look for bras with wider, cushioned straps that don’t dig into your shoulders, distributing weight more comfortably. Full-coverage bras can offer better support and comfort, preventing breast tissue from spilling out. Some plus-size women prefer underwire for the additional support it offers; others find it uncomfortable and potentially problematic for milk ducts. 

If choosing an underwire, make sure it sits comfortably under the breast tissue without pressing against it. As breasts can increase in size during nursing, consider bras that can accommodate these changes, possibly even choosing bras specifically designed to scale up. Invest in models that are well-made. Higher quality means better durability, which is crucial as the bra will undergo frequent use and washing.

Additional Tips for the Right Bra

maternity nursing bra
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  • Get Measured Regularly: Your breast size can change throughout your pregnancy, so getting measured more than once during pregnancy will help in selecting the right size.
  • Consider the Closure: Front closures can be easier to handle, especially when breastfeeding, compared to back closures which are standard in most bras.
  • Plan for Growth: Many women find their breasts enlarge once they begin breastfeeding. Buying bras that have a little give or choosing a size up can accommodate this growth.
  • Comfort is Key: Always prioritise comfort over aesthetics, especially during pregnancy and postpartum when your body needs the most care.
  • Try Before You Buy: If possible, try on different styles to see what feels most supportive and comfortable on your body. What works well for one person might not be the best for another.

Final Word

Choosing the right maternity bras can make a significant difference in your comfort levels during both pregnancy and nursing. Whether opting for a classic, leak-proof, or sports maternity bra, the right choice depends on your lifestyle, body changes, and personal preferences. Remember, the ideal one combines support, flexibility, and comfort, adapting to your body’s needs during this special time.