When should I buy a nursing bra?

Your breasts will change throughout your pregnancy, getting ready to make milk for your baby. You will soon find that your pre-pregnancy bras no longer fit you correctly. During my first pregnancy, my breasts increased in size very quickly, and tenderness in the first and second trimester meant that I needed additional support when sleeping on my side. Health professionals don’t recommend wearing regular underwire bras when pregnant and breastfeeding because they may constrict delicate breast tissue and milk ducts. Also keep in mind that during pregnancy the growing baby can cause your rib cage to expand giving you a larger band measurement. A maternity or nursing bra is a good option because:

  • The majority of nursing bras are wire-free (some use a flexible wire instead)
  • They come in a range of styles and materials that can adjust to your changing breast and rib cage size
  • They can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding which can save you money

After the birth of your baby your rib cage should shrink back to its original size, so when choosing a nursing bra during pregnancy look for a bra with lots of eyes in the back to tighten and loosen the chest size as needed. At the beginning of your pregnancy make sure you have room for the band to increase, and towards the end of the pregnancy make sure the bra fits on a looser setting so that after the birth you can tighten the bra and continue to use it. If you buy a nursing bra towards the end of your pregnancy, make sure you have a little room in the cups for the increase in milk volume that will happen 3-5 days after you deliver.

Nursing bras are available with an underwire that has been specifically designed for the lactating breast. The wires are more flexible, and some women may feel more comfortable with a wire.  It is recommended that you think about waiting until your milk supply has been established before you wear them so that they can be fitted properly to minimise any chance of a plugged duct.  Whether you decide to wait to wear an underwired nursing bra or not, make sure that the wire rests on your rib cage rather than on any breast tissue.

My Recommendations

First and Second Trimester – I had very sore breasts, it was the first pregnancy symptom I had, and my breasts increased in both chest size and cup size pretty early on in my first pregnancy. During this time I wore a nursing bra that had a band with many eyes so I could expand it during the pregnancy, and it fit a range of cup sizes. I also chose a bra with a lot of breast coverage so that when I slept, my breasts didn’t fall out of the bra causing me discomfort.  Emma-Jane 361/365 and the Carriwell seamless drop cup nursing bras work well during this time.

End of pregnancy & Hospital/Home birth/Birth Centre – Your milk volume may increase while you are in the hospital. In my first pregnancy I stayed two nights in the hospital, and in my second I left after just 14 hours. I spent a lot of time in the hospital nursing my babies, so I was glad I took a nursing bra with me. It was hard to know how large my breasts would become, so a bra that fit a number of cup sizes worked best for me.  Emma-Jane 361/365 and the Carriwell seamless drop cup nursing bras are also good for this time.  For a larger cup, you may decide on a bra which has more support.

Once breastfeeding is established – I have been nursing now for over three and a half years, and I have been wearing nursing bras since June 2007. At the beginning I found that a minimum of three nursing bras was adequate to get me through. It gave me one bra to wear, one bra in the drawer, and one bra in the wash. As I continued to nurse I added to my collection and became more adventurous. There are now many companies that are making beautiful nursing lingerie so that I can feel sexy, confident, and comfortable while nursing. The matching knickers are also an added bonus.  HOTmilk have some beautifully detailed bras with matching bikini briefs.

What size nursing bra should I buy?

You have two choices:

  1. If you live within ten miles of Sevenoaks, Kent call or email me and I can come to your home to fit your nursing bras.
  2. If you live more than ten miles away you will need to measure yourself. You will need a tape measure, and either a friend/partner or a mirror to help you make sure you are measuring correctly.

You should wear a bra that fits without padding and is not too tight, and when taking measurements make sure that your arms are down and relaxed.

Chest/Band measurement – Take a tape measure and put it under your arms so that you are measuring from above your breasts, under your arms to the back of your bra (where the hooks and eyes are located at the back of the bra), which should be under your shoulder blades back to above your breasts. This is your approximate chest measurement.

Cup size – Take the tape measure and measure the fullest part of your breasts starting at the same place as the chest measurement (where the hooks and eyes are located at the back of the bra). The difference between these two measurements will determine your cup size. A 1″ difference would give you an A-cup, a 3″ difference would give you a C-cup etc.

Not all bras fit exactly the same way, so I have tried to give you as much information as possible for each individual bra so that you can make the appropriate choice when choosing your size. I have personally tried and tested all of the products on this website so that I can answer any questions about fit, function and care. I only sell products that I would choose to use myself.

If you have any questions about which bra size to purchase, don’t hesitate to send me a message or give me a call.  If you are still not satisfied when you receive your purchase you can take advantage of the FREE UNLIMITED UK RETURNS offer using the address below:

TN15 6PG

I have also put a more detailed fitting guide on my blog if pictures are easier for you to follow.