The 411 on Maternity & Nursing Bras

When it comes to bras you’ve got it down pat! After all, you’ve been wearing one for practically most of your life. But what about a nursing bra, or a maternity bra? Not sure where to start? We’ll give you the 411 on the difference, size and options to help you choose the best one for you. Read on to learn more.

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Maternity and nursing bras are an investment that will pay off in practicality and comfort. During pregnancy, as you already have learned, your body goes through many changes and grows in size. During the third trimester especially, you might notice that your regular sized bras are no longer comfortable or are not fitting properly. This is the perfect time to make your purchase for maternity and nursing bras if you are planning to head in that direction. Try to make your purchase in the last month of pregnancy as that will usually be the size you will settle into once breastfeeding establishes.  Of course there are always exceptions, some women will not notice a change until their milk comes in, or some will increase in a size or two right from the start. In that case, the best option is to purchase your bra as soon as you see your older bra is no longer comfortable, and is leaving indentations under your arm and on the straps.

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Maternity and nursing bras are designed to ease your discomfort and help with the breastfeeding. Once you start shopping for one, you will notice a few differences compared to your regular bra.

No Underwire:

Most maternity nursing bras don’t have an underwire. Not only will this help with the comfort issue but, experts suggest to avoid underwire for the first 4-6 weeks or until breastfeeding is established as your milk ducts lie underneath where the wire sits. By avoiding an underwire it will help avoid a blockage of ducts. If, after breastfeeding has been established, you have not had any problems with blocked ducts, you can try a nursing bra with underwire such as this one, from Cake Lingerie, as the wire tends to be more flexible than the wires on regular bras. (Also check out the Boob nursing bra or Hotmilk nursing bra. Both give great support but avoid an underwire.)

Thicker straps:

You will notice that most maternity/nursing bras have thicker straps to help support your bigger bust line and the heaviness you might be feeling, which will give you more comfort that you might not get with your regular bras.

Extra hooks and eyes (or bra extender):

This is a vital component in maternity/nursing bra’s and will give you a longer wear without having to invest in more bras, unless you grow in cup size.

Nursing bras have clasps on the top of the cup:

If you plan on breastfeeding this will help, especially in public. It’s almost a “peek-a-boo” effect in the front so that you don’t need to undo everything in order to feed your baby. It helps make breastfeeding discreet and easy.

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Once you are ready to buy your new bra, you can head to an expert to get sized properly or attempt it at home. It is estimated that 80-85% of women are wearing the wrong bra size regardless of maternity or not; here are a few tips in getting an accurate fit. You will need a tape measure and perhaps a partner to help get the right measurements:

  • Start with your hands at your sides
  • Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust, making sure the tape measure is parallel to the floor, and that you are not “squishing” the tape into the breast tissue. Round this measurement up to the nearest inch and you have your bust measurement.
  • Wrap the tape measure snugly around the top of your rib cage under your bust line. Round this measurement up to the nearest inch and you have your underbust measurement and BAND SIZE
  • Subtract the bust line number and the underbust number to get your CUP SIZE

Less than 1 inch = AA
1 inch = A
2 inches = B
3 inches = C
4 inches = D
5 inches = DD
6 inches = DDD
7 inches = DDDD/F
8 inches = G/H
9 inches = I/J
10 inches = J

If you are confused or wondering how many maternity/nursing bras to invest in or what brands to look for here are a few suggestions. It is recommended to purchase 2 or 3 bras during the third trimester and alternate until baby arrives, then purchase more as breastfeeding establishes or as you feel necessary.

Boob Design

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Our favorite, maternity and nursing brand has the most wonderful bras. The fast-food maternity/nursing bras are definitely ones you want to try. These bras are not only comfortable and feminine, but they give you wonderful support as well. The breathable material helps to expand with your growing breasts so you can wear them from pregnancy to nursing. Not only are they seamless, but they make a great everyday bra with a wonderful array of colors and patterns to choose from. Each bra comes with a bra extender to help extend the life of your bra and help you get more use out of it while your bust line grows. Sizing is not in cup size rather by size from S to XL.


Fast Food Bra


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Cake Lingerie

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These “delicious” bras are not your grandma’s maternity/nursing bras. Decadent fabrics and details will have you feeling sexy and feminine, even if you might not feel it. There are so many options to choose from here that narrowing down your choices might be hard. There is a bra for every type of woman and for outfits. If you are looking for a bra to wear to sleep the “Seamless” bra is wonderful. It comes with fabric moulded cups that give you a seamless look, side support ribbing and an innovative low T-back for medium levels of support.
If you are looking for something more “fancy” and “luxurious” check one of the non-wired lace bras such as the “Crème Brulee” bra or the “Frosted Almond” bra. Both come with a soft cup bra for added comfort and a six hook & eye extension for growth. Although the bras are lace, the interior is all made with a 100% cotton lining to keep things breathable and comfortable. All of the bras mentioned come with a matching brief-style underwear that is amazingly comfortable for pregnancy, as they sit low and below the growing belly for added comfort and to avoid the “cutting” you get from your regular underwear.

Hotmilk Lingerie

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This is another company by and for women, and a celebrity favorite. The line carries luxurious lingerie that is fashion forward and sexy. We love finding maternity and nursing bras that are attractive and feel comfortable. You shouldn’t need to compensate one for the other.
If you are looking for a “t-shirt” bra to replace your regular ones, the “Eternal” Nursing bra is one to definitely try. It is a seam free, simple yet elegant, design without the bulk of a contour cup. Best part of this bra? It runs all the way up to an F cup.

For a fun yet comfortable bra that you will love wearing, the “SHOW-OFF” will be your best bet. It comes in beige, black and navy. This full cup bra is great for bigger bust lines, giving you support and a modest cover. The cotton lining on this bra makes it breathable and comfortable and the six rows of hooks make it an ideal bra to invest in while pregnant. This bra not only looks great on but it gives you the comfort you are looking for during those last few weeks before baby arrives.


Eternal BraSHOW-OFF Bra


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Now that you have the 411 on maternity and nursing bras you can shop with confidence! Embrace your new pregnancy boobs, and treat them to a fun bra. We assure you that this boost of self esteem will lift your spirit.

Looking for some bras for postpartum? Check out Faveable’s top bras review, too.

For more maternity wardrobe necessities check out: Essentials for a Beautiful Bump.

Rockie, is a makeup junkie, living north of the border with her husband and exclusively breastfed baby girl! She dreams to one day live in a sunnier and warmer city, but for now, tries to see the beauty in snow and the cold weather.She loves learning new things and enjoys the unexpected surprises life has to offer. You can catch snippets of her life at her blog, Life Unexpected, and follow her on Pinterest and Twitter.

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