You’re sailing through your pre-baby to-do list. Your nursery is stocked with the 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?
Although it may be tempting to make do with what you already have, a well-designed nursing bra works with your body, not against it, helping you to enjoy your baby even more – plus purchasing your first nursing bra is an exciting milestone! Nursing Bras: Your Ultimate Guide will tell you everything you need to know to find your perfect nursing bra fit!
To jump right to our favorite nursing bras, click below:1. Comfort Nursing Bras
2. French Terry Bra
3. Organic Cotton Bra
4. Simply Sublime Bra
5. Contoured Cup Nursing Bras
6. Marvella Classic
7. Marvella Luxe
8. Specialty Nursing Bras
9. Sublime Support Sports Bra
10. Sublime Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra
11. Nursing Bra Alternatives - Nursing Tanks
12. Simply Sublime Tank
13. Organic Cotton Tank
14. French Terry Tank
15. Nursing Bra Alternatives - Nursing Pajamas and Nursing Nightgowns
16. Davy Pajamas
17. Angelina Nightgown
18. Lucille Nightgown
19. Great for Layering over Nursing Bras and Nursing Tanks - Nursing Tops
20. Clara Criss-Cross Nursing Top
21. Maya Nursing Wrap Cardigan
WHY DO I NEED A NURSING BRA?
They make nursing easier.
Since most regular bras are fairly structured, you may not be able to bring your baby to your breast without taking off your bra or disrobing. Nursing bras feature cups that clip down, fold down, or pull aside for quick, and often one-handed, access. Paired with the right top, you’ll be able to discreetly feed your little one anywhere.
The materials used in traditional bras may be uncomfortable for new moms. The type of elastic used in the band may leave itchy red marks; lace or 100% nylon fabric may irritate already sore nipples. Narrow straps may not provide enough support, and underwire may dig into your swollen breasts.
Many nursing bras use materials like bamboo and cotton, which allow your skin to breathe. In addition, nursing bras often have wide straps to offer more comfortable support and reduce or eliminate back, neck, and shoulder pain.
They adjust to your body.
Throughout pregnancy, your breasts may change anywhere from one to four cup sizes. They may grow even more when you’re nursing, especially if you become engorged or have an oversupply. As a breastfeeding mom, you’ll probably notice your breast size varies from one day to the next. In quality nursing bras, breathable fabrics are blended with just the right amount of stretch to allow for the normal fluctuations experienced by nursing moms.
WHAT TYPE OF NURSING BRA SHOULD I GET?
Just as there are different dresses for different occasions, so too are there different nursing bras for different 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 the breastfeeding journey much more comfortable.
It’s also important to consider how your needs may change during the postpartum period. In the early months, you’ll likely be home a lot. 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 with contoured cups and additional strap support.
Comfort or sleep bras have softer elastic bands, less suspension in the straps, and a crossover design, which allows you to easily slide the breast out for night feedings. They’re ideal for the initial postpartum period since they offer quick breastfeeding access as you and your newborn begin to get comfortable with nursing. They also provide just the right amount of support at night, without making you feel constricted. Since milk production often peaks overnight, you’ll want a comfortable bra to hold your breast pads in place so you don’t wake up to milk-soaked sheets. Even better? Our sleep bras are supportive enough to wear all day long!
2. Nursing Bras -
The French Terry Bra
The French Terry Bra, a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Winner, features either a stylish racerback or a more traditional scoopback and simple crossover front that you can pull aside with one hand for nursing. Since it doesn’t have clasps, underwire, or exposed elastic, this bra guarantees you nighttime comfort.
3. Nursing Bras -
The Organic Cotton Bra
The Organic Cotton Bra, an Eco-Excellence Award Winner, is soft and lightweight, offering gentle support 24/7. Its organic cotton material is environmentally friendly and feels great against even the most sensitive skin. The pull-aside, wire-free design ensures comfort and ease for the nighttime breastfeeding sessions that new moms know so well.
4. Nursing Bras -
The Simply Sublime Bra
The Simply Sublime Bra, a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Winner with a Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval, is “buttery” soft, with adjustable strap support and removable padding. The drop-down cups are smooth and seamless, and 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!
Contoured cup bras have a smooth design and cups that fold down for easy nursing access. These bras are usually much more structured than other nursing bras, so they’re best for moms who are three to four months postpartum and looking for more support during public outings. Our Marvella Bra, one of Lucie’s List’s Best Nursing Bras and a Cribsie Awards Academy Star Winner, comes in two sleek styles.
6. Nursing Bras -
The Marvella Classic
The Marvella Classic is a stylish look for everyday nursing, featuring a smooth, stretchy racerback design and a deep cut in the front that’s perfect for your V-neck shirts and dresses. It has easy fold-down cups and ultra-soft, stretchy material.
7. Nursing Bras -
The Marvella Luxe is perfect for moms who want an adjustable back (it has a standard eye-hook clasp) or need more versatility: the O-ring hook allows you to easily transition from a traditional back to a racerback. Along with all the benefits of the Marvella Classic, the Marvella Luxe lets you customize your bra to your needs.
The Marvella Luxe
Gone are the days when nursing moms were trapped at home. Thanks to some great design innovations, we now have nursing bras that allow us to go anywhere and do anything. From working out to pumping at work to exclusive pumping, our bras have got you covered. Whether you want to exercise and nurse in the same bra or pump and nurse in the same bra, these specialty nursing bras are super functional – and super comfortable!
9. Nursing Bras -
The Sublime Support Sports Bra
The Sublime Support Sports Bra is perfect for low-impact activities like walking, Pilates, and yoga; plus, it’s made of breathable, moisture-wicking material that will keep you dry and comfortable throughout your workout. With its super comfortable design and nursing clips, this bra will take moms from pregnancy through breastfeeding—and beyond. Whether you’re breastfeeding your baby or doing Downward Facing Dog, you’ll absolutely love this maternity sports bra.
10. Nursing Bras -
The Sublime Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra
The Sublime Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra is the ultimate in comfort and convenience for pumping and nursing mamas alike. Whether you pump exclusively or occasionally, you'll love our new and improved pumping bra, which is designed for busy moms and combines the best features of your favorite nursing and hands-free pumping bras. The patent-pending design has a unique dual clip so you can wear the same bra all day (or all night) for both nursing and hands-free pumping (or both at the same time!). Say goodbye to awkward bra changing sessions in your office, car, or bathroom.
Another amazing option for expectant and nursing moms is the nursing tank, featuring moderate support and clasps for discreet nursing. You can wear a nursing tank on its own or layer it under a shirt or sweater, like the Clara Top or the Maya Nursing Wrap Sweater, for extra coverage.
12. Nursing Bra Alternatives -
The Simply Sublime Tank
The Simply Sublime Tank, a Mom’s Choice Gold Award Winner, is a nursing wardrobe staple that also works for lounging, layering, sleeping, or doing yoga. The extra-long, hip-length cut won’t ride up and also provides enough coverage for burgeoning baby bumps. The built-in bra can accommodate multiple cup sizes.
13. Nursing Bra Alternatives -
The Organic Cotton Tank
The Organic Cotton Tank is a go-to for any mom or mom-to-be craving comfort and style. This tank has a loose fit (great for pregnant and postpartum bellies) and a fun strap design, in addition to super soft organic fabric and nursing clips.
14. Nursing Bra Alternatives -
The French Terry Tank
The French Terry Tank is ultra-soft and feels great all day and night. The simple crossover front design and stretchy fabric make a super comfy nursing tank with one-handed, pull-aside breastfeeding access and gentle support.
Nursing pajamas are perfect throughout the whole breastfeeding journey, but especially in the early-postpartum stage when new moms often wear sleepwear around the clock. Those early days can be absolutely exhausting, and new moms deserve the ultimate in comfort while they heal and take care of their new arrival.
16. Nursing Bra Alternatives -
The Davy Pajamas
The Davy Pajamas, one of the best of Lucie’s List and a Mother & Baby Awards Finalist, have an incredibly soft, stretchy fabric that makes nursing a breeze. The stylish design allows new moms to lounge around without feeling sloppy or frumpy. The ruched top provides enough coverage for some moms to go without a bra if desired, and it can even be worn with jeans while out and about!
17. Nursing Bra Alternatives -
The Angelina Nightgown
The Angelina Nightgown, a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Winner, one of the best of Lucie’s List, and a recipient of the Family Review Center Seal of Approval, is functional as either a nightgown or a dress. A staple for any expectant or nursing mom’s wardrobe, it’s the perfect garment for new moms, from welcoming visitors in the hospital to those early family outings. The double-layered, criss-cross design allows for discreet breastfeeding, while the luxuriously soft material makes it comfortable enough to wear all night.
18. Nursing Bra Alternatives -
The Lucille Nightgown
The Lucille Nightgown is perfect for moms who want something flirty, sweet, and maybe even sexy. This lingerie features a flattering empire waist, which allows room for your baby bump or postpartum belly. Easy clip-down cups and a built-in bra offer light support and make it the perfect choice for nighttime feedings. The lace racerback bodice keeps straps in place while you nurse. This delightfully romantic nightgown will accentuate any new mama’s natural beauty.
A functional and fashionable nursing shirt can make the best nursing bra or tank even better. Our nursing tops are perfect for work, home, and play. With their stylish and practical design, you’ll want one in every color. Paired with our nursing tanks or our nursing bras plus a cami, these tops will be your go-to mom uniform.
20. Great for Layering over
Nursing Bras and Nursing Tanks -
The Clara Criss-Cross Nursing Top
The Clara Criss-Cross Nursing Top is a one-piece infinity shirt that’s both functional and fashionable. Nursing moms will love the easy access openings, which allow for discreet breastfeeding at home or on the go. Plus, the flowy, wrap design flatters all body types. Perfect for layering with the Simply Sublime Nursing Tank, this super comfortable top will become a wardrobe staple.
21. Great for Layering over
Nursing Bras and Nursing Tanks -
The Maya Nursing Wrap Cardigan
The Maya Nursing Wrap Cardigan is as perfect for the office as it is for family gatherings; this cozy nursing wrap is sure to become an instant favorite in any new mom’s wardrobe. Ideal for wearing over our Organic Cotton Tank, this versatile cardigan is flattering for all body types and can be worn in multiple ways for an effortlessly stylish look; with easy-to-use snaps on both shoulders, the Maya transforms from an open-front cardigan to a comfy wrap sweater. The hood offers an extra dose of comfort for chilly days.
Most moms we know want three nursing 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. Having a spare (or two) will ensure that you won’t have to throw in yet another load of laundry when the inevitable happens.
You may find that you function well with a couple of sleep bras to wear day and night. (In fact, you might love them so much, you never go back to underwires again!) Many women find it helpful to have a mixture of cozy sleep bras, supportive daytime bras, and versatile nursing tanks.
WHEN SHOULD I SHOP FOR NURSING BRAS?
It’s impossible to predict how your breasts will respond to pregnancy and milk supply; every woman (and every pregnancy) is different. Some moms don’t have much of a change in cup size, while others may notice an increase of four cup sizes. Although you may be unsure of your eventual size, there are versatile nursing bras that function well for both maternity and nursing, so don’t hesitate to pick out a couple of comfortable nursing bras early on in your pregnancy.
Comfort/sleep nursing bras and nursing tanks are the best options for those initial postpartum weeks. Since engorgement is common while your milk supply is regulating, your cup size could likely still change. Furthermore, your breasts will be extra sensitive during this time, and a structured bra may cause you discomfort.
Many experts agree that the most accurate time to size yourself for contoured cup 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, before a feeding or pumping session, when breasts are full.
If you want to purchase contoured cup 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 your breasts are at eight months should be fairly close to what size they’ll be eight weeks postpartum when your body has learned to regulate its milk supply.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE FOR
THE RIGHT NURSING BRA FIT?
The best way to start fitting a bra is to take two simple measurements: underbust and bust. These two numbers are used to calculate your band and cup sizes. You can use a cloth measuring tape or a piece of string and a ruler to get these measurements.
To find your underbust, or band measurement, first, undress down to your bra (make sure it fits you well). Wrap the measuring tape or string around your body, directly under your breasts. The measuring tape should be straight around your torso and snug but not tight. Round this measurement up to the nearest even number. For example, anywhere from 32.5 inches to 34 inches would be considered a band size of 34.
To find your bust measurement, wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your breasts while still wearing your bra. Remember that if you’re nursing, you should measure before a feeding.
Your cup size is determined by subtracting your band size from your bust measurement. Each inch of difference is a letter. For example, if your bust measurement is 37 inches and your band size is 34 inches, the difference of three inches equals a C cup. A four-inch difference would equal a D cup, and so on.
Keep in mind that these measurements are just a starting point; different styles, brands, materials, and even colors can fit differently. You may not wear the same size in every nursing bra you purchase.
When you put on a new bra, it should feel incredible. The band should be low and even under your breasts and around your back, and you shouldn’t feel any pinching or pulling.
After you’ve put on your bra, try sitting down, standing up, lying down, and even bending over to see how much support you have. If you’ve found the right bra, it should almost feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.
Signs your nursing bra is too big:
- Your breasts slip out the bottom of the cups.
- The band rides up in back.
- The cups have wrinkles.
- The straps slip off your shoulders even when tightened.
Signs your nursing bra is too small:
- Your breasts spill out the top or sides of the cups.
- The straps dig into your shoulders.
- The underwire pokes you.
- The center doesn’t lie flat between your breasts.
Nothing should be poking you; nothing should be slipping around. You shouldn’t have to pull and tug at it all day just to feel comfortable. If your bra isn’t just right, be sure to keep looking until you find the perfect fit, function, and feel. It can be so easy to put up with the wrong bra, especially as a nursing mom, but your body will thank you for taking the time to pick the right one.
Thoughtful encouragement, professional advice, and quality resources help keep you focused on the reasons you’ve decided to nurse, but just as important is the right kind of support for your body. Our hope is that by applying this information, you can find the perfect nursing bras for your own unique breastfeeding journey.
STILL HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT NURSING BRAS?
Kindred Bravely is here to help! Whether you need guidance on selecting the right style or size, the moms in Customer Care will do whatever they can to assist you with your nursing bra needs.
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Header photo by Sadiee Bean