Nursing Bras 101

Posted 05-6-2014 at 10:48 AM by Banana Cat

I really hate bra shopping.

Actually, I hate clothes shopping in general. A size large in one brand fits like a medium in another brand and I won’t even talk about what gigantic size I am in junior’s department clothing. Mostly, it’s a huge pain and bra shopping is even worse. Some bras have underwire, some are cut high, some low, some stretch and some don’t, sometimes you want a mix of casual and fancy bras for different occasions and sometimes even if you get measured for your correct size, some brands will just fit weird on you.

And then you get pregnant.

Your hormones don’t care whether you’ve decided to breastfeed or formula feed. Your pregnant body simply starts producing hormones which tell your stomach to start aching, your nose to suddenly hate the smell of orange juice and pork, and your breasts to start preparing for nursing a baby. It doesn’t matter that it will be about three-quarters of a year before you actually have a baby in your arms to nurse, your body just hops on that preparation ASAP. Thus, even if you have decided to formula feed your child, you will likely need to shop around for new bras at some point during your pregnancy.


Nursing bras come in a huge variety of styles and colors, just to make your life THAT much harder.

Wait, why do I need new bras before giving birth?

Everything changes! Many women find that they grow a cup size or two starting in the first trimester of pregnancy, necessitating an early need for new bras. Even if you don’t find your cup size changing, breasts can be sore and you might find your silky underwire bras suddenly uncomfortable. Lastly, many women’s ribcages also expand right up until birth—those of you who have felt baby’s feet kicking your ribcage know this well!–so even if you do not need a larger cup size, you will probably need a larger band size at some point. If you just need a larger band size, bra extenders may be all you need before giving birth, but when your milk comes in after giving birth you will likely need a larger bra overall.

How are nursing bras different than regular bras?

Nursing bras are made from stretchy, breathable materials, key for comfort. They also have clasps where the bra cup meets the bra straps, so you can quickly unhook the cup for nursing. A few forgo the clasps and are simply stretchy enough to pull a cup to one side, so there are no hooks to deal with. The stretchy cups allow for slight changes in cup size as you nurse.


Example of a nursing bra clasp. Actually there’s a dozen styles of clasps too, just to make your life EVEN HARDER, but this is the most common one.


What about sleeping?

Some women find sleeping bras an absolute must during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. Sleeping bras are usually thinner and less supportive than day bras, but are more breathable and oftentimes don’t have hard plastic or metal clasps that, while convenient during the day, may be quite uncomfortable to sleep on.

How many do I need?

It’s hard to decide exactly how many you will need, especially if you aren’t even sure you will like the brands you bought. Many people recommend three as a minimum—one to wear, one to have in the wash, and a spare. You will probably want more at some point—I found that having two day bras and two sleep bras were my minimum, as I had oversupply issues and often leaked straight through nursing pads onto my bras. Three bras for the day worked even better as oftentimes I needed to change my bra while the other was still air drying. You may also find you need fewer bras if you have several nursing tank tops you use. Don’t worry, you will discover what you find comfortable and what you will need!

What kinds of bras did you use during and after pregnancy?

Filed Under: General, Mommy Talk


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