Childbirth is one of the most wonderful and beautiful experiences that a woman will ever go through in her life. As most women know, their body will change in ways that they never expected both during and after the pregnancy. One of the main concerns that women have is their bra; how the size will change, what kind of support they will need, and the right type of bra for breastfeeding.
The hunt for a good breastfeeding bra actually starts earlier than you may think; around the beginning of the 9th month of pregnancy. At this point you will notice that your breast size has grown significantly as it is getting ready for the milk to come in. You probably have already outgrown your pre-pregnancy bras and are on the lookout for comfort more than style. This is the time to start using more supportive and comfortable bras such as sports bras. Sports bras allow for more breathability and less constriction than your normal underwire bras. Most importantly, however, they will allow the milk to come in naturally without compressing the breasts, which will give you a head start on lactation.
After your baby is born you’ll find that lifting your sports bra up every time the little one wants to be fed is very impractical. Soon after giving birth, it will be time to start the search for the perfect nursing bra. Your rib cage will begin to shrink and the band size lowers to what it will most likely be for the next few months. Usually the milk starts to come in around day 2 to 5 so the engorgement of the breasts will give you a good idea of how large of a cup size you actually need during the breastfeeding process. This fullness will have some variance, but overall, you need to make sure that your bra coverage takes into account how large the breasts will be when they are filled with milk.
It is recommended that you have a professional bra fitting done at this point. Many maternity stores as well as department stores have specialists that deal with bra sizes for breastfeeding women since it is a very specific type of bra. Once you get fitted you can shop around and look for what makes you the most comfortable.
Common Breastfeeding Bra Features
Underwire bras are not recommended during the first 6 months of lactation. This is due to the restriction that it puts on the milk. In addition, underwire bras are usually not very comfortable because your belly has not yet returned to the pre-pregnancy condition. For this reason, most bras for breastfeeding are soft cup style.
Another common characteristic of nursing bras is the presence of flaps that act as part of the cup of the bra and unfasten to allow easy access to the breast. Flaps are an absolute necessity when you are breastfeeding. The flaps on a nursing bra are also great for being discreet while breastfeeding.
There are also many different types of nursing bras that allow the cup size to be adjusted to accommodate the change in breast size even from hour to hour. This is highly recommended so that you can be more comfortable and still look great in your clothes. The styles range from flaps that connect in the middle of the two cups to flaps that connect at the strap or even near the band of the bra.
There are also breastfeeding bras with no flaps that are made so you can easily pull the bra to one side or another. They are usually made of softer fabrics making them great to sleep in. They are also less expensive but do not offer the same kind of support you need for all day use. Recommended for smaller busted women, they are a great solution to those who find the flaps harder to use.
Important Tips to Remember When Shopping for a Nursing Bra
• Always make sure there is a little extra room in the cup for a nursing pad since these are essential for breastfeeding
• Make sure you can open and close the flap with one hand at all times. Chances are that you will have a baby in the other hand and you don’t want to be out in public unable to close your flap while holding your child
• Make sure you are full with milk when trying on nursing bras so that you can get a well fitted bra that covers the entire breast. This is where professional fittings come in handy
• A well fitted bra should not ride up in the back or front and should have straps that keep the breasts elevated even without milk in them
• The new style of nursing bras is similar to tank tops with built in cups for added support. These are ideal for sleeping and can offer more comfort than traditional flap breastfeeding bras.
• If you plan on pumping, you may want to consider a nursing bra that allows for a hand free pumping system
• Always have at least two nursing bras since chances are you will leak and spill occasionally. Better to be safe than sorry.
• Stretchy materials are a new mom’s best friend. Go for comfort during these months, not for style. Save that for the first date night you have after the baby is born
Popular Nursing Bra Brands:
In the search for the perfect nursing bra, you’ll often need to explore brands that don’t make conventional bras. We all love Victoria’s Secret, but they don’t offer any nursing bras. One brand that has taken the world by storm is Bravado. Their bras are consistently praised for their excellent fit and quality, although they do tend to be more expensive. Anita is another high quality brand. If you want some style, Le Mystere offers a few stylish nursing bras. Another stylish brand is HotMilk. Popular breastfeeding pump maker Medela has a few nursing bra styles available as well.
With such an exciting time ahead of you, the last thing you want to worry about is your bra. With these tips, you’ll be able to go out and find a few bras that feel good, while offering the functionality that you need for breastfeeding. Good luck!