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Crash Course: Nursing Bras

There are so many things to learn during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

One of them is how to choose a good maternity/nursing bra.

Here's a crash course, including how to find your perfect fit:

What to expect - Pregnancy:

During your first and second trimesters, your breasts will start to get bigger and you'll likely start wearing nursing bras, as you'll need larger sizes and more support than you get from your regular bras.

By the third trimester, your cup size has probably increased one or two sizes compared to normal and could go up even one more size (really!) right after baby is born.

During the third trimester, your rib cage will also expand to make room for baby and your rib band size could be one size bigger than it will be after baby arrives.

For this stage, look for nursing bras with lots of stretch to accommodate your changing size from pregnancy through to nursing. Make sure  the band fits comfortably on the loosest setting (so you can tighten it after your baby is born).

 

What to expect - Breastfeeding

When your milk comes in during the first few days after giving birth, this will be when your breasts are at their biggest, usually one cup size up from your third trimester of pregnancy. During this time you'll notice big fluctuations in breast size as your body learns to regulate its milk supply.

Experts recommend a seamless style bra during this time, to move with your changing body and provide you with comfort and support. A cupped size product can compress and restrict the breast as it learns to regulate its milk supply.

Then, as your body adjust to breastfeeding, your breasts will adjust too, going down one cup size from when you were nursing a newborn. You will likely tighten your bra band as your rib cage decreases in size as well.

Around 6-8 weeks, you can choose whatever nursing bra you prefer, including cupped-size and underwire nursing bras.

 

What to look for in a Nursing Bra:

  • Breathability: You'll likely have pretty tender nipples, so make sure to look for soft, breathablel fabrics like cotton.
  • Comfort: You're probably going to sleeping with your bra on a lot so make sure you have at least one super comfy bra for sleep and around the house.  Remember that your bra should never be uncomfortable or tight—constriction can lead to plugged milk ducts and breast infections.
  • Breastfeeding friendly: Look for full drop-away cups so baby has skin-to-skin contact and full access to the breast.
  • One-handed clips make it way easier to open your bra while holding baby.
  • Flexibility: You want something that stretches a bit for your ever-changing shape during pregnancy and postpartum. You don't want to have to buy different bras for each stage.
  • Smooth cups help ensure a smooth shape in a t-shirt; this can also help hide reusable breast pads.
  • Invest in a bra that has 4-6 hooks/eyes on the back band
  • Bonus: convertible straps can criss-cross in the back.
  • Bonus: can be converted to a regular bra when you're done breastfeeding.

 

We Recommend:

These are our favourite nursing bras:

Best Light-to-Medium Support:

  • The Bravado Original is perfect for sleeping and around the house. Bravado created it specifically for the early stages of breastfeeding when comfort is king. It's a classic breathable cotton bra. We love that the larger sizes actually have a different design, instead of just being bigger versions.
  • The Sweet Pea Nursing Bra is also great for light support - it's breathable, soft cotton, double layer jersey fabric makes it super comfy.

 

Best All-Around Bra:

 

Bravado Body Silk Seamless is our bestseller and is a perfect everyday, at home, on-the-go, anytime bra.

It's the easiest bra for finding your right size and the seamless style means it can give support while accommodating the large fluctuations in size you may experience in the first few weeks after birth.

has all the features we look for in a great nursing bra.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Underwire:

The Bravado Belle gives you the support you're used to from regular bras. Like a good t-shirt bra, it doesn't show breast pads and is super soft and stretchy, thanks to patented flexible underwire.

We love the crossed-back strap option. Good for larger sizes (yay!), although the formed cup may be harder to bend out of the way compared to cotton bras.

If you don't love underwire, the Buttercup Nursing Bra is a similar design without the underwire.

 

Wondering how many bras you need?

Most moms like at least three to start their nursing wardrobe: one to wear, one to have and one to wash.

You will also likely want to have a mix of styles depending on your day: super comfy bras for sleeping or lounging around the house and underwire for more support (e.g. going out).

 

How to Fit a Nursing Bra:

Chances are, you're not sure how to figure out your nursing bra size, since it's hard enough to figure out your regular bra size.

It's not that tough though (and it's not the way to measure that you probably think it is).

Here's how to determine your nursing bra size:

  • Measure at around eight months of pregnancy - experts say this is the size your breasts should be at approx. 8 weeks post birth (i.e. when your body has learned to regulate its milk supply). The bra that fits best at this point should be on its loosest setting -
  • Don't have extra room in the cup - an ill-fitting cup will not provide your breasts with the support you need. A good nursing bra will have stretchy fabric on the top of the cup to allow for movement in the breast as it produces milk.
  • Wear a non-padded bra that reflects your true shape
  • Get a measuring tape and a pen with some paper

You need to find out 2 things: your rib band and your cup size. Only 2 measurements!

Rib Band:

Measure your chest (we know this seems odd, but it works!). Place the measuring tape around your back and under your armpits. The measuring tape should be placed above your breast tissue. Check in the mirror to make sure the measuring tape is parallel to the floor along your back as well as along your breasts.

This is your rib band size (34, 36 etc.).

Tips:

  • The tape should be snug around your body and make sure that you don’t have any fingers underneath the tape.
  • If you are in between sizes, round up or down to the nearest even number.

 

Cup Size:

Measure around the fullest part of your breasts, over your nipple area. This is a looser measurement than the rib band measurement. Hold the end of the measuring tape at the side of your breast. While holding both ends of the tape with one hand, use your free hand to press the measuring tape in between your breasts to your chest. This will provide a more accurate cup size measurement.

To get your cup size, subtract the rib band measurement number (Step 1) from the cup size measurement number (Step 2).

Each number (inch) represents one letter. For example, if your rib band is 34 and your cup measurement is 38, then 38-34 = 4" and 4 equals  a D .

That means you are a D cup and your nursing bra size is a 34D. (2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=DD(E), 6=DDD(F), etc.)

Tips:

  • The tape should be snug around your body and make sure that you don’t have any fingers underneath the tape.
  • If you are in between sizes, round up or down to the nearest even number.

 

Bonus: Larger / Plus Size Bras

Have larger breasts makes finding a good nursing bra even that much harder. Luckily Bravado has some great options:

The Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra has a nice wide band for support and doesn't give a uni-boob despite the non-cup style. Goes up to 2X which fits up to a 46 band size and G cup size.

The Original (Full Cup style) also goes up to 46 band size and G cup size and has a nice wide supportive full-back style.

The Belle Underwire Nursing bra fits like a normal bra and gives great support. Goes up to 42 band size and an H cup size.