The Importance of Good Nursing Bras: How to Choose the Best Ones for You
What’s the difference between a nursing bra and a regular bra? Is it just the ability to be able to nurse and whip a boob out? Basically, yes. There are many different ways you can nurse from a bra, such as; pull aside, drop down cup, pull up from the bottom and so forth – it’s all about the access.
Then there’s the difference between a good nursing bra and just the ones you can nurse from. A good bra will take into account the changes the body is going through when you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
What changes will I experience during pregnancy & breastfeeding?
Some women know they are pregnant before they take a test, simply because their breasts are tender, swollen, and just feeling heavier in general. The most amount of change occurs in your breasts when you’re pregnant in the first trimester, then after that it’s usually just the rib cage that expands until the final month. If you’re not wearing a good nursing bra in these first stages, you may be more likely to experience ligament damage, possibly suppress your mammary glands in their initial development and just be downright uncomfortable.
A good nursing bra will not only stretch and grow with you through your fluctuating days (yes, they will increase and decrease in size), but it will support you and be comfortable throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey.
Did you know you can change between 5 different bra sizes throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey? For this reason, we recommend investing in a multi cup fitting bra, specifically designed for a fluctuating bust.
What kind of nursing bra should I wear & when?
In the first trimester, it’s recommended to wear a seamless bra that can handle your fluctuations whilst being comfortable. For these reasons, look for a bra that is specifically made for your frame, size and style. If you’re used to wearing a plunge padded bra, then you’ll be more comfortable in that type of style for your seamless maternity and nursing bra. If you’re a fuller bust, then look for a seamless supportive bra such as SugarCandy, which is specifically designed for the fuller, lactating bust. It has special support panels inside for your breast to sit on, so you’re lifted, separated and supported, even though you’re wearing a seamless bra.
Whatever style of seamless bra you prefer, go for one that is double layered and has moulded cups. Double layered means better quality and durability, and moulded cups ensure your breasts will not be compressed.
2nd & 3rd Trimesters
After the first trimester you can expect your breast size to settle down a little, but your band size will expand. This is because, like your pelvis getting ready for childbirth, your ribcage unlocks and expands to allow for your vital organs to be displaced to make room for your baby. Lovely thought, right mama?!
Since your cup growth has stabilised somewhat you can safely wear any kind of maternity or nursing bra, as long as it’s correctly fitting and any wires are flexible.
A fun fact is that 80% of women are the same breast size at 8 months pregnant and 8 weeks postpartum. Your ribcage will, however, be different. So, if you’re looking to buy a nursing bra for this stage, get fitted at 8 months to save the hassle when you’ve got a bub in tow. Remember to buy the bra knowing that your ribcage will contract so you should be wearing it on the outermost hooks.
All good nursing bras have 6 hook and eyes to allow for the expansion of the ribcage from 3–9 months and then back down again. This way your bra will fit you for longer and also last the distance from pregnant to breastfeeding.
This is when the magic really happens! Now that you’ve given birth, your breasts take over from your placenta and keep your baby happy and fed until they’re weaned. Pretty amazing, huh?
Your breasts during this stage can increase up to 4-5 cup sizes and can be about 30% heavier than a non-lactating breast of the same size. Because your breasts have grown so quickly (approximately three days), the amount of elasticity in your skin will usually not be enough to hold them up without help. For this reason you may want to look into a 24/7 nursing sleep bra.
How do I choose the best nursing bra for me?
This all comes down to personal preference, activities, your stage and your size. We recommend a seamless bra for the initial stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding because of the dramatic changes your breasts and body are going through.
During the other stages, when your breasts have stabilised, you can safely go into a well fitted flexi-wire bra, wire-free bra or continue on in your comfortable, supportive seamless bras.
Increase in cup size
2nd & 3rd Trimester
Increase in band size
Any nursing bra
6 – 8 Weeks Postpartum
– Slight decrease in band size – Large increase in cup size
8+ Weeks Breastfeeding
– Stabilised cup size – Further decrease in ribcage
Any nursing bra
Whatever your style or size or colour preference, Cake Maternity have you covered with different designs to suit lots of different purposes. From t-shirt bras to date night, from high impact to pumping, from lacey plunge to bamboo sleep, we’ve got you covered.
Katie is the proud mum of two beautiful girls and has been responsible for all the designs, style and fit at Cake Maternity for over a decade now.
Katie is a nursing bra specialist and a fit, pattern and grading technician. She is passionate about breastfeeding and the many benefits it offers to both mum, bub and the environment.
She is determined to make the breastfeeding journey a comfortable, supportive and beautiful one for all mums, understanding that it doesn’t always come easy to everyone. That’s why she has made it her mission to empower women as they mindfully navigate the world of motherhood and help make breastfeeding easier, through experience-driven innovation.
I'm a mum in my mid 30s with over 15 years of childcare experience working as a private nanny, babysitter and a few years as a nursery teacher. Now I've got my own family too! I love finding great products for mums and kids.
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