When I was approximately three months pregnant with my daughter, I noticed (shortly after my ex-husband excitedly pointed it out) that my pre-pregnancy bras no longer fit. In order to prevent the embarrassment of my boobs bursting out of my bra, I quickly went shopping to get fitted for some nursing bras (also called maternity bras).
While I was being fitted, the sales assistants in the various lingerie stores all gave me different advice about when I should really be getting fitted and what size I should get – I ended up so terribly confused. “First trimester? Oh that’s a little early,” or “In your third trimester is a more realistic time as to what size you will need,” they said. Ridiculous! I was not going to wait that long to buy a comfortable bra! Not only that, but I had heard that it’s not ideal to wear underwire bras during pregnancy or breastfeeding – and all I owned were underwire bras.
After what seemed like hours, I ignored all the conflicting advice and bought a nursing bra that fit (giving me a little room to grow), felt comfy and went home feeling so much better. If I had to buy more nursing bras later when my boobs grew even more, I didn’t care! I just wanted to go home and snooze after being on my feet all morning!
No-one can tell you what size maternity bra you will end up wearing and when you will reach your ‘maximum’ size, because women are all unique.
Below are some guidelines for when you are ready to look for maternity bras.
When Should I Get Fitted For Nursing Bras?
There is no exact time to be fitted for a nursing bras while pregnant, for some it will be sooner than others. You may find you outgrow your pre-pregnancy bras fairly quickly, or you may not need to purchase a maternity bra until much later.
Are Underwire Bras Okay To Wear When Pregnant?
Underwire bras are not recommended while pregnant and when breastfeeding for several reasons:
- Your breasts may swell due to retained fluid late in pregnancy
- Underwire can put pressure on the breast which may lead to a blocked milk duct or mastitis
- Your breast shape will change throughout the day as milk is produced and emptied
A bra that is comfortable, flexible and soft against your skin is a much better option.
What Should I Look For When Choosing A Maternity Bra?
Things to look for when selecting a bra are comfort, ease of opening and closing of the clips for feeding, ensure it is a fully opening bra (ie. when you open the bra to breastfeed, it releases the whole breast) and make sure there is room in your bra for any extra growth and / or when your milk comes in after the birth.
What If I Can’t Find My Bra Size?
Unfortunately there’s not a great range of maternity wear available. If you need a DD or higher you will notice the availability, appeal and look of maternity bras of this size greatly diminish and stores that stock these sizes can be few and far between! The largest sized maternity bra I saw in a local shopping centre was a G cup, so they are out there. If you are having trouble finding your size, ask if someone can order anything in for you or you could always have one custom made. Try the Australian Breastfeeding Association or Bras ‘n’ Things for bigger sizes.
How Many Maternity Bras Should I Buy?
You’ll need two bras at the very least – one to wear and one to change into if you leak or end up wearing baby’s lunch! Ideally your bras should be hand-washed in a mild detergent but if you don’t have the time and want to machine wash, make sure you wash your bras in a lingerie wash bag (not the mesh style, needs more protection!) on a gentle cycle. With only a couple of maternity bras on hand, you don’t want to be left with nothing to wear if they get damaged! Don’t use any bleaches or soakers as they can damage the fabric and/or irritate your skin.
Do I Need Different Bras For Pregnancy And For Breastfeeding?
The words, ‘maternity bra’ can be confusing – maternity bras are designed to be worn both when you are pregnant as well as breastfeeding.
Do I Wear A Nursing Bra To Bed?
The answer to this question is one of personal choice. You may prefer to wear a bra so your breast pads stay in place or you may prefer to have your bra off for comfort. There is no reason why you should or shouldn’t. There are now maternity crop tops you can wear which are very comfortable, so if you don’t like wearing a bra to bed but are worried about leaking, you could always give maternity crop tops or sports bras a go.