Breast changes begin in the first trimester of pregnancy, and most mothers outgrow their pre-pregnancy bras right along with their non-maternity jeans. If you're
buying new bras during pregnancy, go ahead and buy nursing bras. These may not fit
immediately after birth, when your breasts are swollen, but they'll fit
at some point in your breastfeeding career.
WHERE TO BUY
You can buy nursing bras online as well in the
maternity section of department stores. You can pay discount
store prices or pay a lot more for a higher quality garment. There are also many catalogs
for new mothers that sell nursing bras along with other baby and breastfeeding products.
WHAT KIND OF BRA TO BUY
Nursing bras are designed with cups that open. You can open the flap on the cup so that
baby can nurse while the rest of the bra stays in place. Here's what to look for when you
The bra should support the breast from beneath even when the cup is open. This
makes feeding more comfortable and reclosing the bra less of a struggle.
Avoid bras that open completely at the front for a feeding. You'll have a hard time
wrestling your breasts back into place when you're done nursing.
Nursing bras should fit comfortably. Bras that are too tight can leave you vulnerable
to plugged ducts and breast infections in the parts of the breast where straps or
underwires block the flow of milk.
Avoid underwires, especially in the early postpartum weeks. If you do choose an
underwire bra, be very particular about the fit. The breast's milk-producing tissue extends
all the way back to your rib cage and up into your armpit. An underwire may obstruct
the milk ducts in this area--besides poking and annoying you. (Underwire bras can be
miserable to wear during pregnancy. The wires dig into your upward-expanding
abdomen whenever you sit down.)
Cups should be made of a breathable fabric. This is usually 100 percent cotton,
although some of the newer synthetics also allow the skin to breathe. Other synthetics
trap moisture next to the nipples and encourage bacterial growth and soreness. Don't
buy a bra with a plastic lining.
You'll need at least three bras: one to wear, one in the laundry, and one in the drawer.
Owning a few more means you'll have to wash less often.
At first buy only one of a particular style, to test it. When you find a bra you really
like, purchase more of that style.
- Flaps should be easily opened with one hand. If you can refasten them with one hand, that's
even better. Remember, your other arm will be holding a hungry baby. For discreet
nursing in public, choose a bra with fasteners that you can open without looking at
How do you know what size bra to buy? Since breasts change dramatically postpartum, here are some
When your breast size settles down, usually after the second week, purchase
additional bras that fit well.
Most nursing bras have several rows of hooks at the back to allow for changes in
breast size and in rib cage expansion during pregnancy. If you buy a bra that fits well
when fastened on the second row of hooks, you'll have room to get a bit bigger and a
bit smaller. Because the flaps are open on the sides, there's also some room for
expansion in the cups of most nursing bras.
If you purchase bras through a catalog, follow the retailer's instructions for measuring
for the correct size. You may not end up with the size bra you think you wear, but
you'll probably end up with one that fits better.
Large breasted women need a bra with extra support.
- Your breasts will enlarge as your milk "comes in" after birth, so perhaps purchase one
or two less expensive bras late in pregnancy that are one numerical size and one cup
size bigger than what you're wearing. These will get you through your first several
DO YOU REALLY NEED A NURSING BRA?
Some mothers prefer to wear a nursing bra while they are breastfeeding.
They're more comfortable with the added
support of a nursing bra. For others, especially those who are smaller-breasted, become more
casual about bras as time goes on. Some women even choose to go braless. Others may choose
stretchy non-nursing bras that can be lifted above the breast and then pulled back into place after feeding.
Do you absolutely need the support of a good bra while breastfeeding? Will it
prevent sagging and stretching? Breast shape and firmness is influenced mainly by
heredity, and even women who don't breastfeed will find that their breasts change after
pregnancy. Some mothers feel that their breasts are smaller and droopier after weaning,
but they become more firm as the months go by.
Most mothers are more comfortable wearing a bra--but much depends on what
you are accustomed to. Go ahead and choose whatever works for you.