There is a lot to think about while anticipating the arrival of your new baby, and it seems like everything is layered with extra considerations that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
Take breastfeeding, for instance. If you plan to nurse your baby, you may be concerned with figuring out how to do so quickly, knowing that your little one is going to need to eat right from the get-go. You might meet with (or at least find) a lactation consultant, read about different ways to hold the baby, learn about latching and boosting your milk supply, and invest in a cover-up or easy-access nursing clothes.
But have you considered the importance of nursing bras? Chances are, your pre-pregnancy bras aren’t going to fit through the end of your pregnancy, let alone once your milk comes in, and they aren’t exactly the most convenient when your baby’s ready to eat. You’re also going to want support without the potential discomfort of an underwire.
Ok, you may be thinking. There’s another thing to think about. But when do I need to think about it, how many nursing bras do I need, and what else do I need to know? Luckily for you, we have those answers, and then some!
When to buy a nursing bra
While a nursing bra is obviously designed to wear while breastfeeding (it is right in the name, after all), you might not want to wait until your due date to invest in one. Even before your milk comes in, your breasts may grow by a full cup size or two, and that process begins as early as six to eight weeks into your pregnancy. That means that by the time you find out you’re pregnant, you might already begin to notice changes in your breast size! You may find that by the second trimester, when your milk ducts begin to develop, you simply cannot use your old bras anymore. The band, cups, or both might be too snug.
If you’re planning on nursing, opting for a nursing bra beginning halfway through pregnancy can help you get the most bang for your buck. Not only that, but nursing bras typically offer structure and support without a wire, as an underwire can put uncomfortable pressure on breast tissue. This may prove easier to wear as your ribcage expands in the latter half of your pregnancy.
A nursing bra that is structured but stretchy can be especially cozy. Bamboobies yoga nursing bra and super strappy nursing bra are both made of super-soft rayon made from renewable bamboo fabric and stretch to fit a mom’s changing body while still holding their shape.
Even if you do wait until baby is here to opt for a bra with nursing clasps and drop-down cups, you may still want to consider nursing-specific bras once you begin breastfeeding.
Why wear a nursing bra
There are a few reasons you might choose to wear a nursing bra. A nursing bra can offer more convenient access to your breasts, provide more support when you’re feeling engorged, and hold nursing pads in place to protect your clothes from leaking breastmilk.
- Convenience: Most nursing bras allow you to unclip the cup from the straps to allow for easy access to your breasts without having to remove your bra. Some styles simply overlap at the cleavage to make it easier to push fabric aside, which can be more comfortable during sleep or if you have smaller breasts.
- Support: Many women find that their breasts can feel enlarged and require a little extra support, especially during pregnancy and as their milk comes in after baby is born. A well-fitting nursing bra can provide much-needed relief. The super strappy nursing bra’s extra strap design is especially supportive across the back.
- Leakage: You may find your breasts leaking between feedings, especially as your supply is established early on. Wearing a bra can help protect your clothes from breastmilk. Many new moms find it beneficial to wear a nursing bra to bed, as it can hold nursing pads in place while still allowing for easy middle-of-the-night feedings.
How many nursing bras do I need?
With how versatile nursing bras can be and the risk of spilled breastmilk, you might be tempted to stock up as soon as you hit the second trimester mark. However, considering your breasts will likely continue to change throughout your pregnancy and then again in the postpartum period, you may want to invest in two good options and wait to see how well they continue to fit over time.
What to look for in a nursing bra
- Fit: When looking for a quality nursing bra, fit is first and foremost. That’s why it’s worth adapting throughout your pregnancy. You want support, but without feeling squeezed or pinched. A bra that is too tight can lead to problems such as plugged ducts, mastitis, or decreased milk supply.
- Material: With the increased presence of moisture while you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid synthetic materials, which can trap that moisture and cause irritation. Natural materials, such as the rayon made from bamboo fabric we use at Bamboobies, allow better air flow, which can help keep your breasts dry and comfortable.
- Ease of use: You’ll need to unclasp the nursing hooks with one hand, often while holding a squirmy baby in the other. You want to make sure whatever nursing bra you choose has clasps that stay in place when they should but also unhook easily.
- Comfort: Finally, make sure you choose nursing bras that are soft and comfortable. There’s enough discomfort during pregnancy and the postpartum period without feeling itchy or achy up top! Not only that, but softer fabric can help ease any nipple soreness associated with early breastfeeding or latch issues.
With so much to learn and prepare for, it’s easy to let certain purchases or decisions drop to the bottom of your priority list, but your nursing bra shouldn’t be one of them. You deserve to be comfortable and supported, Mama. And that includes your breasts.
VeryWell Family: How to Breastfeed Your Baby
BabyCenter: Breast changes during pregnancy
Healthline: Breast Changes in Pregnancy: What to Expect
VeryWell Family: Buying and Using a Nursing Bra
La Leche League International: Bras