It’s a common scenario: moms have everything they need for their new arrival, but completely space on buying themselves a fabulous nursing bra. Don’t wait for discomfort to drive necessity. Take your time to consider how a perfect fitting nursing bra will fit with your lifestyle.
A good nursing bra is more than just “a bra without underwire.” The best postpartum bras are made from soft, stretchy, non-abrasive materials, with easy one-handed access for breastfeeding. Deeanne Akerson, creator of Kindred Bravely nursing and maternity wear, offers three essential tips for the best nursing bra fitting.
Mistake #1: Shopping for cup-specific bras too early.
Don’t assume you can simply buy your usual size bra or increase by one cup size. It is impossible to predict how your breasts will respond to pregnancy; every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different. Avoid trying to squeeze into cup-specific bras right after your baby is born since the seams in a regular bra can be uncomfortable for wearing all day and night. Additionally, the cup-specific bras you’re accustomed to can be very unforgiving to a changing body: compressing your milk ducts and affecting both your comfort and your milk production.
Instead, look for a nursing bra that can stretch with you, accommodating the normal fluctuations experienced by nursing moms throughout the day and night; sizing in these bras will be S-XL, not the standard A-DDD cup sizes. You should purchase a few before delivery, so you’re ready to breastfeed comfortably. Also, since you’ll be wearing a bra virtually all day and night at first, it goes without saying that the fabric should feel amazing! Stay away from anything that might be itchy or irritating, such as lace or exposed elastic.
“When should I buy a nursing bra?” is a common question. Not only will your breasts change a lot during pregnancy, but you'll continue to undergo size fluctuations the first two months post-birth based on milk supply. Most 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. The best time to measure is midday, when the breasts are full, before a feeding. A professional fitting is free at places like Nordstrom’s and most boutiques where maternity clothes are sold.
If you like to be prepared and are wondering when to buy nursing bras during pregnancy, you’ll be relieved to know you can buy a bra at virtually any time. Just choose a style that comes with at least three rows of eyelets and fits comfortably on the loosest setting. That way, you can tighten the band as your rib cage shrinks back down to normal.
Many women wait until their third trimester (around eight months) to buy their nursing bras, as they have gained most of their “baby weight” and undergone most major body shape changes by then. The size your breasts are at eight months should be fairly close to what size you’ll be eight weeks post-birth, when your body has learned to regulate its milk supply.
Mistake #2: Putting up with a bra that’s not immediately comfortable.
Each brand has its own nursing bra fitting guide or nursing bra size calculator. So even if you have referenced another website for your measurements, you should always check the manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the most accurate estimate.
A soft tape measure works best, but if you don’t have one, you can use a ribbon, scarf, sash, or belt, and refer to an internet ruler. Measure directly under your breasts, holding the measure snug but not tight, to determine your band size. When necessary, round up to the nearest even number. Take a second measurement around the fullest part of your breasts to determine cup size.
Your measurements and a bra size guide will help you get an idea of what to order, but the true test comes once you’ve got the bra home and are trying it on. When you put your new bra on, it should feel AMAZING! The band should be low and even under the breasts. Try it on sitting down. Stand up and see how much support you receive. A well-fitting bra shouldn’t slide.
A lot of women make the mistake of buying a bra with too much room in the cup. Most nursing bras are made with stretchy material 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.
You know your bra is too big if:
- Your breasts slip out the bottom of the band.
- The band rides up in back.
- The cups wrinkle.
- The straps slip off the shoulders on the tightest setting.
Your bra is too small if:
- There are mounds of breast poking out the sides.
- The bra “pokes” you anywhere.
- The center rides up and doesn’t lay flat.
Mistake #3: Failing to consider different styles.
Just as there are different dresses for different occasions, you will find different styles of maternity and nursing bras to suit your needs. For some women, one really high-quality nursing bra could do the trick for sleeping, lounging, and going out. For most women, having several different bras and styles makes this period of life much more comfortable.
Some women wonder about the difference between maternity and nursing 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. We have styles like the French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra, where the breast simply slides out, or styles like the Seamless Sublime Nursing Bra with push-button clasps that drop down the cup.
It’s also important to consider how your needs may change during the postpartum period. In the early months, you’ll likely be doing a lot of lounging around the house. You’ll want soft, smooth, stretchy material, with flexible sizing and quick access to the breast. Later, as you start venturing out more, you’ll want a more structured bra that looks good beneath your clothing with contoured cups, additional strap support, and sexier styling. You can best notice the difference between an early breastfeeding bra like the Organic Cotton Crossover Nursing & Sleep Bra, and the Marvella -- the type of bra you’ll want about three to four months after having your baby.
We hope you found this Nursing Bra Buying Guide helpful. If you have any other questions about fit, please contact us. We want you to be 100% satisfied with your purchase, even after you’ve ripped the tags off and washed it a few times! Your comfort is our top concern, so you can focus on relaxing with your new bundle.
Additional Nursing Bra Fit Guide Resources: