The Nursing Bra Shopping Guide (and Common Mistakes to Avoid)
You’ve spent countless hours preparing for your baby...you’ve agonized over the right car seat, perfect crib, stroller, carrier, and more. In all this preparation, remember your new mama needs too! If you intend to breastfeed, don’t wait for inconvenience or desperation to drive quick decisions: finding your perfect bra for nursing, pumping, or both will set you up for success in your breastfeeding journey.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “What is a nursing bra? And do I even need one?”
A good nursing bra is made from soft, non-abrasive materials, with easy, one-handed access for nursing. Most nursing bras are structured with a special clasp located on the bra strap for a quick release. The ideal bra is one that opens to expose your breast tissue completely so you and your baby can continue to reap the bonding benefits of skin to skin care.
To help you find the most comfortable bra, follow these guidelines when selecting a quality nursing bra to meet your changing body and lifestyle needs.
Options Are Good
Just like there are different dresses for different occasions, you'll find a variety of nursing bra styles to suit your fluctuating needs. For some moms, one high-quality nursing bra can suffice for lounging, sleeping, and going out. For most moms though, having several different bra styles will make this time much more comfortable.
In the first 3-4 months, which we define as “transitional postpartum”, you’ll likely be doing a lot of lounging around the house. You’ll want comfortable bras with flexible sizing and quick breast access. Lounge and bralette bra styles work best in the early months because they can adjust to accommodate changes in breast size. Crossover styles like our Reversible Sleep Lounge Nursing Bra allow you to slide your breast out, while No Commitment, Sling or SuperMom Bralette styles offer clip-down cups. With our unique no commitment and sling bra styles you can even hide the nursing clasp while pregnant so no one will know you are wearing a nursing bra. This also means you can then hide the nursing clasp once again after you wean your baby, and continue wearing the bra as a wire free t-shirt or bralette style.
If you already have a nursing bra wardrobe that you love, you may consider our Adjustable Hands Free Pumping Bra. This style is only meant to be worn while pumping and easily slips on over any nursing bra. It is our most flexible pumping bra for accommodating breast size variation, and our most supportive pumping bra because it ensures a tight, compressed seal, which enhances the breast pump performance.
Our all-in-one Nursing and Pumping styles are the most convenient styles because you can wear them all day...no need to change in and out of bras. What is unique to our all-day-wear styles is the patented comfort sling: this included accessory is essentially a halter strap that ensures the perfect support for your pump without overly compressing, which can lead to clogged ducts.
It’s also important to consider how your needs may evolve during your breastfeeding journey. In the early months, you’ll want soft & stretchy material with flexible sizing and quick breast access like the examples above. As you start venturing out more or return to work, you’ll want a more structured bra such as our SuperMom or Sling T-Shirt Bras that have light padding to conceal engorged nipples, contoured cups, additional strap support, and a more polished look under clothing.
Welcome the STREEEETCH
In the early transitional postpartum phase, look for a nursing bra that is stretchy, soft, and smooth since you’ll be wearing a bra almost 24/7! The stretch is important to accommodate the normal fluctuations you’ll experience nursing throughout the day and night. Our Reversible Sleep Lounge Nursing Bra and No Commitment, Sling or SuperMom Bralette Bras are the best stretch choices for these early months.
Each brand has its own nursing bra fitting guide, so even if you've fit yourself before, be sure to check the specific brand’s measurement guide for the most accurate estimate.
But the true test comes once you try on the bra. It should feel comfortable and supportive sitting down, standing up, bending over, and lying down. A well-fitting bra shouldn’t slide and the band should fit snug but not too tight.
Buying a Structured Bra Too Soon
It’s tough to predict how your breasts will respond to pregnancy and lactation, since everyone is different: some moms don’t have a change in cup size while others have an increase of several cup sizes.
If you want to purchase nursing bras before your baby comes, aim to wait until you’re eight months pregnant. By then you will have gained most of your baby weight and undergone most body shape changes, so your breast size should be fairly close to the size they'll be eight weeks postpartum when your body has learned to regulate its milk supply.
Experts agree that the best time to size yourself for more structured nursing bras is 3-4 months after birth, giving you time to regulate your milk supply. The best time to measure is midday before a feeding.
Our best structured nursing bra choices are the SuperMom or Sling T-Shirt Bras, as they have light padding to conceal engorged nipples, contoured cups, additional strap support, and a more polished look under clothing.
A note about underwire: we recommend avoiding it until your milk supply is fully meeting the needs of your baby (this is usually around 12 weeks postpartum). Pressure on the milk ducts can cause clogged ducts, which could lead to a painful condition called mastitis. For some women, even an improperly fitting wire free bra can cause clogged ducts if the bra is too compressive.
We hope this guide is a helpful and empowering tool in your quest to find your best nursing bra(s). Our top priority is comfort, which will be achieved by finding the proper fit and bra style(s) that is suitable for the latter part of pregnancy, transitional postpartum, and throughout your entire breastfeeding and pumping journey.
To find more information about bra size and fit, be sure to take our fit quiz or contact our Customer Care Team. Our customer care reps, who are also moms, can help you with everything from finding appropriate styles for managing your changing breast shape/band size to sizing for cup/band styles to achieve an optimal fit.