It’s a common scenario: a mom has everything she needs for her new baby but completely forgets to buy herself a great nursing bra with a comfortable fit.
Don’t wait for discomfort! Since finding the perfect nursing bra fit will improve your breastfeeding journey, now's the time to learn the ropes.
A good nursing bra is more than just “a bra without underwire.” The best-fitting breastfeeding bras are made from soft, stretchy, non-abrasive fabrics, with easy, one-handed access for nursing.
To help you find the most comfortable no-underwire bra, we’ve compiled our top three bra-shopping tips to address common mistakes moms make.
1. Shopping too soon
It’s impossible to predict how your breasts will respond to pregnancy and lactation; every woman (and every pregnancy) is different. Some moms don’t have much of a change in cup size; others may notice an increase of four cup sizes.
When should you buy a nursing bra? Many experts agree that the most accurate time to size yourself for more structured nursing bras is three to four months after delivery, which gives you time to establish and regulate your milk supply and breast tissue. The best time to measure is midday, when the breasts are full, before a feeding.
If you want to purchase nursing bras before you deliver, try to wait until you’re around eight months pregnant. By then you will have gained most of your baby weight and undergone most major body shape changes. The size of your breasts at eight months should be fairly close to the size they'll be eight weeks postpartum when your body has learned to regulate its milk supply.
2. Putting up with an uncomfortable bra
Look for a maternity and nursing bra that can stretch with you, accommodating the normal fluctuations experienced by nursing moms throughout the day and night. Since you’ll be wearing a bra virtually all day and night at first, it goes without saying that the fabric should feel comfortable! Stay away from anything that might be itchy or irritating.
Each brand has its own nursing bra fitting guide or nursing bra size calculator. So even if you've referenced another website for your measurements, you should always check the specific store and product listing to make sure you have the most accurate estimate.
Your measurements and a bra size guide will help you get an idea of what to order, but the true test comes once you get the bra home and try it on. When you put your new bra on, it should feel AMAZING! The band should fit snug but not too tight and sit low and even under the breasts.
Try it on sitting down. Stand up and see how much support you receive. Bend over and lie down. A well-fitting bra shouldn’t slide.
A lot of women make the mistake of buying a bra with too much room in the cups. Most nursing bras are made with stretchy fabric to accommodate fluctuations in size, so you won’t need to go up several cup sizes, as you would if you were wearing a regular bra.
3. Forgetting other styles
Just as there are different dresses for different occasions, you'll find different styles of nursing and maternity bras to suit your needs. For some women, one really high-quality nursing bra could do the trick for sleeping, lounging, and going out.
Some women wonder about the difference between nursing and pregnancy bra styles and whether or not they need both. The primary difference is that nursing bras come with special openings for quick, easy breastfeeding accessibility once your baby is born.
Crossover styles like our French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra allow you to slide your breast out for easy access, while our full-coverage Simply Sublime® Nursing Bra features clip-down cups and hooks and eyes.
It’s also a good idea to consider how your needs may change during the postpartum period. After nine months of pregnancy, in the early postpartum months, you’ll likely be doing a lot of lounging around the house. You’ll want soft, smooth, stretchy bras, with flexible sizing, quick access to the breast, and a place to put your nursing pads to absorb breast milk leaks.
Later, as you start venturing out more, you may want a more structured, padded bra that looks great underneath your clothing and has contoured cups, additional strap support, and sexier styling. Once you become more active, you'll want the stretchy, wicking fabrics founds in the best nursing sports bras.
You can feel the difference best when you try on an early breastfeeding bra like the Organic Cotton Nursing & Sleep Bra and a seamless nursing bra like the Ultra Comfort Smooth Classic Nursing Bra or the Sublime® Contour Nursing & Maternity Bra, the type of plunge bra with molded cups that you’ll want about three to four months after your baby arrives.
We want you to find the perfect wire free bra, and we hope you found this Nursing Bra Buying Guide helpful! Your comfort is our top concern so you can focus on relaxing with your new bundle.
To find more information about bra size and fit, check out our blog or contact our incredible Customer Care Team. Our team members are experts in everything from changing breast shape and breast size to sister sizing, and they love helping moms buy nursing bras they'll wear long after their nursing journeys end. Also, be sure to take our fit quiz.
Bonus: How to measure for a nursing bra
Getting accurate bust measurements is key to finding the perfect fit whether you're looking for a traditional bra (like the stellar ones from our sister brand, Davy Piper) or a maternity bra and a nursing bra. A soft measuring tape works best, but if you don’t have one, you can use a ruler and a ribbon, scarf, sash, or belt.
So...how to fit a nursing bra -- or any bra?
To find your size from your measurements (in inches), begin by measuring your underbust. This is the area directly under your breasts, around your rib cage. The flexible tape measure should be snug but not tight.
Round your underbust measurement to the next whole, even number. This rounded number is your band size.
Next, get your fullest bust measurement. Wrap the tape measure around your back and snugly across the fullest part of your breasts.
Then, subtract your band size from your fullest bust measurement. Each whole number difference is one cup size. A difference of two inches is a B cup, three inches is a C cup, four inches is a D cup, and so on.
For example, if your underbust is 37 inches, you'd round it up to 38. If your fullest bust measurement is 44 inches, you’d subtract 38 from 44 to get six, which is a cup size of F.
You know your bra is too big if:
Your breasts slip out the bottom of the band/bottom of the cups.
The bra band rides up in back.
The bra cups wrinkle.
The bra straps slip off the shoulders on the tightest setting.
Your bra is too small if:
There are mounds of breast poking out the sides or over the top of the cups.
The bra “pokes” you anywhere.
The center rides up and doesn’t lie flat.
If you have any questions, reach out to our Customer Care Team -- they'd love to help you find a great-fitting bra that provides the comfort and support you deserve during pregnancy and breastfeeding!