As a first-time mother, you might be feeling overwhelmed with all the new information you need to learn about yourself, your changing body and your soon-to-come baby. During pregnancy, you will be experiencing a lot of hormonal changes in your body. Some of the changes you will notice are your breasts growing in size and therefore, will need maternity bras.
With so many options on the market and conflicting information on the Internet, choosing the right bra can be really confusing. Read this article for a simplified and easy-to-understand take on how to pick the right nursing bra before giving birth.
Before we jump into the specifications of the perfect nursing bra, let’s cover the basics first…
What Is A Nursing Bra
A nursing bra is a bra that has features that allow for easy access to the breast for breastfeeding. Usually, this is via clips at the front of the shoulder straps or the centre front of the bra in some models.
Maternity Bra Vs Nursing Bra
Bras designed for pregnancy are usually also designed for nursing, and “maternity” and “nursing” are often used interchangeably.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends underwire free for both maternity and nursing bras to avoid any pressure on the mammary glands, where milk is produced.
How Many Cup Sizes Do You Gain During Pregnancy?
Most women will go up 1-3 cup sizes and 1-2 band sizes during pregnancy. Your breasts usually stabilize in size by around the 4-month mark.
However, your frame (the area around the ribcage) may continue to expand as your baby grows. By the end of your pregnancy, your frame will usually have expanded by more than 5cm.
What To Look For In A Nursing Bra
Primarily, a nursing bra should:
- Be underwire-free
- Be comfortable and supportive without the feeling of restriction
- Be adjustable around the frame and nursing cups to ensure it can support your changing milk and therefore breast volume
- Fit firmly to allow for minimal breast bounce but not uncomfortably tight so as not to impede milk supply
- Have a “bra within a bra” design for optimal support
- Make breastfeeding as easy as possible without requiring the removal of any clothing
This will vary based on the type of nursing bra (sports versus a standard dress bra for example). Generally, breathable materials which allow for removable breast pads for leakage should be at the top of the list of things to look out for.
The style of the maternity bra will depend on your personal preference and also primary purpose (everyday bra or a sports bra). Bras with an “X” back or racer back shape tend to have better impact support as opposed to a standard shoulder strap.
Sleep & Night Use
Many women will want to sleep in a nursing bra for support as well as assisting with leakage control. A softer, low-impact style bra made of bamboo or gentler & breathable fabrics is best for overnight wear.
There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all bra as your night and day needs are quite different, especially during pregnancy and early motherhood. As your milk production settles and feeding becomes less frequent, your differences in your day and night needs will reduce.
It’s easy to find an all-purpose nursing and maternity bra for day and nightwear if you want low to medium support.
However, it’s harder if you want postural and higher impact support like our Gazelle or Ultimate Support Nursing Sports Bras. Nursing bras may not be cheap but they are very important to prevent your breasts from sagging and too much pressure on your neck and spine.
To maximise your investment in maternity bras and clothes, choose maternity bras that have multi-purposes and are suitable for both, running and nursing. It is important to have firm support, especially when carrying out prenatal exercises and postnatal exercises.
Suitable Throughout The Pregnancy Trimesters (And After)
Nursing bras usually have several more rows of hooks, which is important as your frame size will change throughout and after your pregnancy. Having adjustable feeding panel clips is also helpful to support the change in shape and fullness of your breasts over the course of pregnancy and motherhood.
When To Buy A Nursing Bra
Your breasts will start to change noticeably early on in pregnancy. For some women, this can be one of the telltale signs of early pregnancy. You should avoid wearing bras with underwire early on in your pregnancy.
By the 4th month, you should try to get fitted for a maternity bra as your breast size will have somewhat stabilized by then. Keep in mind though that this differs from woman to woman.
When Should You Get Professionally-fitted
Buying a nursing bra when pregnant can seem daunting. Your breasts will more or less stop growing by the early second trimester. This is an ideal time to get professionally-fitted to ensure your nursing bras last you through from pregnancy to nursing. Most maternity bras should have extra frame hooks to allow for changes in breast and cup size anyway!
Choosing a maternity or nursing bra is a highly individual thing. Knowing what to look for and when to expect changes in your body can help to make the choice a little easier and less confusing.
Whilst there may be many options out there, there are certain key important points you should always keep in mind when purchasing a nursing bra. At Lenny Rose Active, we have deliberately designed our nursing sports bras to be versatile and functional without sacrificing style.
Being able to comfortably exercise with a supportive and firm nursing bra will make a huge difference in your pregnancy. Shop online for our breastfeeding sports bra you can wear before, during and after pregnancy.