Tips for finding a comfortable bra during
pregnancy and breastfeeding
Why is it important to wear the correct bra size?
Pregnancy is a time when your breast tissue develops and
you build up fat stores for nursing, so the breast can grow
one or more cup sizes and also become a lot heavier.
Wearing a bra that doesn’t provide enough support may lead
to stretch marks and permanent sagging, wearing the wrong
size may lead to plugged ducts and back pain.
What bra choices are there for pregnancy & breastfeeding?
Wired Bra - Wired bras are not usually recommended for
pregnancy and the first month of breastfeeding because there
is a risk that the wires will press on the breast tissue and cause
damage, discomfort and possibly plugged ducts. Wired bras
should be refitted frequently throughout pregnancy and
breastfeeding to ensure the best fit. You may want to wait
until the baby is at least one month old so that your milk
supply has become established.
Maternity Bra - is designed for pregnancy only, usually an
over the head bra that is seamless and very comfortable and
will grow with you throughout the pregnancy. They usually
come in a small number of sizes that fit a range of cup sizes.
Seamless/Transitional Nursing Bra - provides the same comfort
as a maternity bra but can be used after birth for easy access
nursing. They usually come in a small number of sizes and fit a
range of cup sizes which makes them especially ideal for all the
changes your body goes through during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Sized bra - There are some really pretty and even sexy nursing
bras available that are sized, but can often be fitted to allow for
the growth of the abdomen and cup size. Not guaranteed to fit
after your milk volume increases, but are designed to fit a larger
range of band sizes to accommodate you from the beginning of
pregnancy. These are a real confidence booster.
How to measure yourself for a nursing bra
There are many ways to measure for a bra. This is just one way
to do it, you will see online many other techniques. At the end
of the day, it is the fit that is important, and as with many items
of clothing, different manufacturers fit a little differently.
1. Wear a bra that you feel comfortable in and you think fits you
the best. Make sure that the bra isn’t too tight. Sports bras will
often squash your breasts and you will not get a true measurement.
2. Use a soft measuring tape. You may need to stand in front of a
mirror to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
For the band size measure from the middle of your back at the
bottom of your shoulder blades (where the bra band sits if you
are wearing it correctly). Take the tape measure up under your
arm pits to the middle of your chest as shown below.
3. To measure the cup start from the same point at the back and
measure the fullest part of your breasts.
Difference between smallest and largest measurement
So, this will give you an idea of your bra size. But remember, bras will fit you differently and that is why I offer an unlimited free return and exchange policy so that you can make sure you are happy with your fit.
Some common mistakes made when finding the right bra
In this picture the band is too big and is riding up at the back. The band should be parallel to the floor if fitted correctly. If the band is riding up, then the straps are providing too much support. The majority of the support should come from the band. Try a smaller band size but remember to go up a cup size if you go down a band size.
The breast should fill the cup. Wrinkles could mean the cup is too large. You may have one breast bigger than the other, and differences can be seen between feeds. Fit the bra to the larger breast. Try a smaller cup size to get rid of the wrinkles.
The breast should be well covered with no breast tissue bulging out of the top of the cups or the side of the cups which could put pressure on your milk ducts. Try a larger cup size.
A tight strap will create an indented shoulder. This may mean that not enough support is coming from the band. You may want to try a smaller band to provide more support.
What you should see -
Good breast tissue coverage and a band that is parallel to the ground.
1. If you buy a nursing bra at the beginning of your pregnancy make sure you fit it to the tightest band setting so that there is room for growth.
2. If you buy your nursing bra at the end of your pregnancy or after the baby is born make sure it fits on the loosest band setting. Bras can stretch over time, so this will allow you to tighten the band and not lose support.
3. Your band should not stretch more than 1” away from your body, if it does try going down a band size (and up a cup size) example: 38C to 36D.
4. When you put on your nursing bra open the cups. Lean forward and scoop your whole breast into the cup before you fasten it. You want to make sure that all of your breast tissue is inside the cup and not bulging out the top/bottom/side etc.
5. If buying a sized bra when you are pregnant make sure there is a little room for the increase in milk volume that happens after birth. This will increase the chance that you can continue to wear it when breastfeeding. Remember that you may still have to wait until after your milk volume settles at about four weeks to wear it again.