Maternity Bra Guide
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How to Tell if your Maternity Bra Fits:
Here’s a quick checklist to run through when you’re trying on maternity bras for your new, larger breast size (this is also a good checklist to use to see if you’ve outgrown your maternity or nursing bras during a ‘growth’ spurt ):
- Your bra cup should cover your whole breast comfortably. No breast tissue should spill out of the sides, and your breast shouldn’t be ‘crammed’ into the cup.
- Your maternity bra should fit snuggly around the bottom band, but not too tight. It should fit comfortably, but not put any pressure on the breast. Bras that fit too tightly may cause plugged milk ducts (or mastitis if nursing).
- Your maternity bra should have straps that keep your breasts elevated without cutting into your shoulder.
- Your maternity bra should not ride up in the back. If it does, you’re in the wrong size (this holds true for non-maternity bras, too).
The Underwire Maternity Bra Debate
There are many lactation consultants and other professionals who counsel pregnant women to stay away from underwire bras during pregnancy and nursing. Again, your breasts are changing shape – almost daily. During your pregnancy fluid retention can cause your breast to swell, and when nursing your breast sizes increases and decreases throughout the day as milk is produced and then fed. An inflexible underwire bra may not allow for the expansion of your breasts as they change throughout your day, and put pressure on your breasts as they expand. The pressure can lead to blocked milk ducts (during pregnancy and nursing) or mastitis (when nursing). You should avoid underwire non-maternity and nursing bras for this reason. The good news is that there are several maternity bra manufacturers that offer a ‘flexible’ wire support, which provides the support and fit of an underwire bra, but the flexibility you need when pregnant and nursing.
If you do decide to wear an underwire maternity bra, be cautious if it feels like the underwire is feeling binding or is otherwise uncomfortable. Many women (me included) had not trouble with underwire maternity bras during our pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore symptoms if something doesn’t feel ‘right’.
Wearing Bras to Bed when Pregnant
There are many health care professionals (midwives, OBs, and lactation consultants to name a few) who recommend wearing a bra to bed to help support your breasts and make you more comfortable (and when you’re nursing there’s the added benefit of holding nursing pads in place to prevent milk leaking while you sleep). The decision, of course, is yours. If you do decide to sleep in your bra, stay away from the underwires. There are several types of nursing bras that don’t have flaps – you simply pull the bra off one side or the other. These bras are usually made of softer fabric and ideal to sleep in. You may want to invest in a soft-cup bra that you will use only for sleeping, limiting the wear of your ‘day time’ nursing and maternity bras.
Be sure to Follow the Washing Instructions
Now that you’ve invested in a maternity or nursing bra, make sure you take care of it. You don't want it shrinking up or wearing thin before its time! Nursing and maternity bras should be hand-washed and air dried. Some nursing bras are made of 30 different pattern pieces. These pieces can shrink at different rates. Also, ‘stretchy’ fabrics can lose their elasticity if not dried properly.
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