How Many Nursing Bras Should I Buy?

How Many Nursing Bras Should I Buy?

You’re sailing through your pre-baby To-Do list. Your nursery is stocked with haul from your baby shower. You’ve imagined every possible baby gear necessity. Yet, one question remains: What will YOU need to accommodate your changing body?

Purchasing your first nursing bras is an exciting milestone, as you begin thinking about feeding your new baby with the healthiest, most natural food. While it may be tempting to make do with what you already have, a well designed nursing bra will make everything flow so much better. 

  • If you’re used to wearing a traditional underwire bra, your trusty “go to” bra may feel restrictive and scratchy. Chalk it up to hormonal shifts and swelling glandular tissues. Most lactation consultants recommend avoiding underwire bras for at least six weeks after your baby is born, when the initial engorgement phase is over. Proper fit is essential for underwire bra comfort. Rising Relaxin levels allows the rib cage to expand for up to nine months post-partum. (For me, it wasn’t until three to four months after giving birth that I returned closer to my normal bra sizing.) Special design features also make nursing bras the preferred choice for this exceptional time in life’s journey. The wider straps of nursing bras offer support, even without the wires, and ensure that you don’t suffer from back or shoulder aches. Snaps and fold-down cups help you confidently and discreetly feed your baby swiftly, wherever you are.
  • If you’re used to wearing wireless sports bras… There is a better way! Sports bra makers choose materials like Lycra to wick away sweat and keep you cool, but these materials do little else. In fact, some sports bras include compression weave for additional support, which you may find too constricting. By contrast, nursing bras feature much softer materials and snug, supportive weaves that won’t irritate or constrict your sensitive skin. The removable foam inserts are ideal for maintaining breast shape and discretion when you’re out in public.
  • If you’re used to wearing no bra… Most women go up a cup size while breastfeeding, but some women in AA cups have increased from a B to a DD! So it’s safe to say, you will need additional support once your milk comes in. It will take a few months for your breasts to regulate milk supply, so leaks are inevitable. A nursing bra will help hold your reusable nursing pads in place will save you from changing your bra several times a day.

The ideal time to buy a nursing bra varies from woman to woman. Every woman is unique, and every pregnancy is different. You may feel constricted by your usual undergarments as early as three weeks into your pregnancy or as late as post-pregnancy. Although you may be unsure of your ultimate size, there are versatile types of nursing bras that function just as well from maternity, throughout nursing, so don’t hesitate to pick up several bras early. Depending on how you progress, you may need to buy a few bras later on in the post-partum period.

Choosing the Right Size For Nursing Bra Comfort

When your milk comes in, your body has produced enough supply to handle twins (or even triplets!) because your body doesn’t know how many babies you have until the suckling pattern is established. While no one can really know for sure what size bra they’ll need until the milk has come in and settled (usually between 7-14 days post-partum), the transitional sizing of nursing bras makes the guesswork much easier.

Nursing Bra Measuring Tips…

  • When choosing band size: Measure directly under your breasts to determine band size, holding the tape snug, but not tight. Round up to the nearest even number. If you’re buying early, you’ll want to clasp your bra comfortably on the tightest setting, so there is room to let loose later.
  • When choosing cup size: Measure around the fullest part of your breast, near the center. Your cup should contain the breasts, without spillover on the sides. The cups should be smooth, not wrinkled – unless you are shopping early. Then a few wrinkles is okay, as it will allow for expansion when your milk comes in.

Hints for Trying on a Nursing Bra…

  • The ideal time for fitting is during the daytime, before a regular feeding, when your breasts are full.
  • Try the bra on while sitting down, so you can feel where the breasts hit the belly; you don’t want any pinching, bunching, or sliding.
  • Your bra might be too big if: the cups are wrinkled, the band rides up in back, or fully adjusted straps slide off the shoulders.
  • Your bra might be too small if: the breasts are spilling over on the sides, the band is digging in anywhere, or if the center section doesn’t lay flat.

Need More Help?

If you’re feeling very confused about the whole process, you can stop by Nordstrom, Dillard’s, or your favorite breastfeeding supply store for a free custom fitting. Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. I have a good pulse on what will work, based on your answers to a few simple questions!

Choosing the Right Type of Nursing Bra

Comfort nursing bras are designed with transitional sizing in mind. Instead of the number/letter combination you’re used to for bras, they come in S, M, L, and 

  • Sleep bras have softer elastic bands, less suspension in the straps, and crisscrossed style to slide the breast out for night feedings.
  • The nursing tank is another amazing option, featuring decent support and clasps for discreet nursing. You can wear a nursing tank out in the summer months or layer it beneath a sweater for extra belly coverage.
  • One more type of bra you may consider, especially if you are returning to work full-time, is a hands-free pumping bra, which is actually more like a bustier that fits around the outside of your nursing bra or tank. These bras are a Godsend for holding your bottles in place, so you can read a book, type on your laptop, breastfeed on the other side, or just relax as you pump.

You may be a “minimalist” and function with several comfort nursing bras worn day and night. (In fact, you might love them so much, you never go back to underwires again!) Personally, I found a mixture of cozy nighttime sleep bras, stretchy supportive daytime bras, and versatile nursing tanks was helpful.

Before starting my own clothing line, I could never find a nursing bra I loved. None of them were exactly the right combination of comfort, style, and functionality. BUT, as they say, “Necessity is the Mother of invention” – so I designed these styles to give us moms the best of all worlds:

  • The French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra features a stylish racerback and simple crossover front that you can pull aside with one hand for nursing. With no elastic, no clasps, and no underwire, this Mom’s Choice Awards Gold recipient guarantees you nighttime comfort. Once I discovered the French Terry fabric in the garment district of LA, I knew I had to make a bra with it! French Terry is the ultimate in comfort, a truly amazing material that feels like a soft, snuggly hug! 
  • The French Terry Racerback Busty Nursing & Sleep Bra gives you the same amazing features I just described, but accommodates larger sizes from 28-42 inch bands, and DD to I cups. The Busty versions have soft elastic in the chestband, and additional cup volume. Most lingerie stores don’t carry these hard-to-find sizes, but Kindred Bravely bras are made for REAL women, in all their beautiful shapes and sizes.
  • The Organic Cotton Crossover Nursing and Sleep Bra is a super soft bra with pull-aside breastfeeding access and non-adjustable straps that ensure maximum comfort for nighttime breastfeeding and light support. There are no cups in this bra, but the front is double-lined to hold your favorite nursing pads in place. This bra also comes in “busty” sizes.
  • The Seamless Sublime Nursing Bra is “buttery” soft, with adjustable strap support and removable padding for a flattering silhouette. The clasp is easy to operate, so you can drop the cup down with one hand to nurse. The cup is smooth and seamless, so it won’t show underneath your shirt, while the stretchy fabric allows for fluctuations in cup size. Moms say this bra is supportive enough for daytime activities, but comfortable enough for nighttime wear, too. If you’re going to buy just one type of bra for all purposes, this is your best bet!
  • The Marvella Nursing Plunge T-Shirt Bra is the most stylish look for everyday nursing, featuring a smooth, stretchy, racerback design and a deep cut in front that’s perfect for your v-neck shirts and dresses. You get the same easy fold-down cup and ultra-soft, stretchy material all Kindred Bravely bras are known for, so you feel great, no matter what changes your body is going through!
  • The Seamless Sublime Nursing Tank is a wardrobe staple that works equally for lounging, layering, sleeping, or yoga class. The extra-long hip length cut won’t ride up and provides enough coverage for burgeoning baby bumps. The built-in bra can accommodate multiple cup sizes with S(2-4), M(6-8), L(10-12), and XL(12-14) sizes. Order one size up if you’re on the cusp.

In a nutshell: for moms who have just given birth, we recommend the soft, soothing French Terry, Organic Cotton and Seamless Sublime styles. After a few months, you can add the more structured Marvella to your collection as well! Our tanks are perfect anytime – including pregnancy!

Choosing the Right Number of Nursing Bras

So now, the big question: HOW MANY NURSING BRAS DO YOU NEED??

At bare minimum, you’ll need THREE bras: “One to wash, one to wear, and one to spare!”

You’ll feel more relaxed, knowing you’re prepared for the unexpected leak, hot flash, or baby spit-up.

Let Kindred Bravely be your guide to finding the best nursing bra!

Bra fitting is extremely personal and more of an art than a science, so I totally understand if you make a sizing misstep. We are only human! That’s why I have a compassionate return policy and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If, for whatever reason, you don't absolutely love your purchase, just return it within 60 days and we will refund every penny or replace it, if desired. Even if you’ve ripped the tags off and washed it, our free shipping and returns policies have you covered. We want every nursing mom to have a comfortable and stylish bra in her wardrobe! Contact us for details!

P.S. If your baby hasn’t arrived yet, remember to pack a nursing bra in your Hospital Bag so you’re comfortable during those first few tender moments breastfeeding your baby.

Additional Resources:

Tips for finding your perfect Nursing Bra

Kindred Bravely's tips for choosing the perfect nursing bra