When it comes to bras, finding the perfect fit and style can be a challenge under regular circumstances. Throw breastfeeding into the mix, and we’ve got a whole new ballgame. Whether it be for added support, health reasons, or just preventing leaks, finding the right bra is critical for mothers who are nursing. In this month’s blog we’ll explore nursing bra options to keep mama feeling comfy.
What is a nursing bra?
When baby arrives, staying on top of everything is no small feat. Life is a blur and anything that makes life a little more efficient is a welcome relief. Nursing bras provide easy access while breastfeeding, typically with some type of flap on the cup that can be folded out of the way with one hand to provide easy access to the breast. This quick, direct access makes it easier for mothers to breastfeed their little one or pump milk for later.
Why do we need nursing bras?
First and foremost, your regular bras probably just aren’t going to fit during and after pregnancy. The band size (the number in your bra size) may stay more or less the same, but as milk comes in, up goes the cup size. Proper support is important to help relieve discomfort that might arise from your breasts swelling, as well as soreness you may experience as you start breastfeeding and get used to the process.
Your breasts will not only be larger after giving birth, they will also be heavier with the added weight of breastmilk. The support of a good nursing bra will not only be more comfortable, it may also help prevent sagging later on by keeping Cooper’s ligaments from stretching and eventually loosening quite as much. Support becomes even more critical when it comes to exercise. Repetitive movement when your breasts are heavier with breast milk can run the risk of developing mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast, often caused by an infection caused by bacteria or microorganisms entering the body through an open in the skin (such as cracked nipples). Getting proper support from your bra can help reduce chafing, and nursing bras can also hold special inserts to protect sore nipples, giving them time to heal.
Leaking milk is another common breastfeeding concern, particularly for mothers in the workplace. A nursing bra can provide extra padding to soak up leaking milk and put your mind at ease.
Do nursing bras come in different styles?
You may be picturing a very functional undergarment, something frumpy, lumpy, or drab. Just like with any bra, however, in reality many styles and options are available when it comes to the nursing variety. With or without underwire, smoothing or seamless, soft and comfortable for sleeping, sports bras, or even sexy lingerie, you can find just about every type of bra you like, adapted for nursing mothers. Check out our nursing bra selection in our store or online here.
How do I choose the best option for me?
As you choose a nursing bra, you want to keep both these factors in mind: comfort and convenience.
- Durability: You want to make sure that you don’t just get good support when you put the bra on, but for hours to come. Life with a new baby might not leave you with time to change, so you want straps, elastic, and padding that can go the distance.
- Padding: Even if padding is a bra feature you typically avoid, nursing bra padding is less about creating cleavage and more about keeping your shirt dry from possible leakage, leaving you more confident and less distracted, particularly in a professional setting.
- Flexible closures: Nursing bras will often have additional rows of hook and eye closures than the standard three on your average bra. The additional closures give you even more flexibility to adapt to changing cup size in case of engorgement.
- Flexible fabrics: Bras designed to support you while you sleep are often made of stretchier fabrics, which can adapt to your changing cup size throughout the day.
- Drop-cup: This design allows you to unhook and open up one cup to feed your baby, while the other side stays closed and supported. The cup unhooks from the strap at the top and can be reattached when you are done.
- No clasp: These softer designs offer comfortable support while sleeping, and can also hold nursing pads during the early days of breastfeeding when leaking is more common. The cups can simply be pulled to the side to breastfeed or pump (nice and easy when you wake up groggy from a deep sleep), and are usually made with the type of soft, stretchy fabric mentioned above.
Fit is key. An ill-fitting bra that does not sit well with your shape can lead to some of the health problems discussed above, like mastitis. Make sure a more supportive bra does not have an underwire that pokes you or seems to get wedged into the same spot. Quality of fit and material might drive the price up, but the investment is worth it for the comfort and durability.
You may try to avoid procrastination, but purchasing a nursing bra is one item best left closer to your due date. At that point you will have a better idea of how much your cup size has increased and can purchase something that will gives you the support you need. Even then, keep in mind that you may go up another cup size when your milk fully comes in, so choose a nursing bra that fits comfortably when the closure is set as tightly as possible. That way, you know you have some wiggle room and can let the clasp out if need be.
Finally, it is recommend owning at least three reliable nursing bras, so that you have a clean one handy while the others are in the wash. Regular laundering is very important in order to keep the bras sanitary, both for you and your baby. We offer some wonderful delicate washes that are perfect for you and your baby’s skin. Check them out in store or on our website here.
A change in cup size may be the most obvious reason why a few new bras are needed after giving birth, however as we have seen, just going up a few sizes doesn’t quite cover all the bases. Investing in well-made, well-fitted nursing bras will help you enjoy this special bonding time with your baby and help make breastfeeding a little easier. Stop in to see your Bra Sisters to learn more about what you need, get properly fitted, and feel confident that you’re ready. You got this, mama! And we’re here to help!