Maternity and Nursing Bra FAQs
Everything You Need to Know about Maternity and Nursing Bras
This is a quick guide to answer any questions you may have about maternity and nursing bras. Based on questions from our customers, and questions I had myself, this is the Cliff’s Notes version of our definitive maternity bra guide.
Can I just wear regular (non-maternity) bras throughout my pregnancy?
Just like everywhere else on your body (and probably more so than anywhere else, other than your tummy) pregnancy changes your breasts. They get bigger, heavier, and more sensitive. Normal, or non-pregnancy, bras simply aren’t designed with pregnancy issues and changes in consideration, and don’t provide the support you will need as your breasts grow bigger. Maternity and nursing bras provide the proper support you need to feel more comfortable and less fatigued.
What is a nursing bra?
A nursing bra is designed to allow mom to comfortably and easily breast-feed or pump without removing the entire bra. Some nursing bras have flaps over the cup that can fold down completely, others have a central snap or clasp near the bra’s center that can be undone and pulled across the cup from the side. Still others are designed similarly to a sports bra or bralette, and are pulled aside or over the breast, without any clasps or snaps.
What is the difference between a nursing bra and a maternity bra?
The terms “nursing bra” and “maternity bra” are usually used inter-changeably. While there are bras out there that are specific to maternity, most pregnant moms choose to buy nursing bras (with either ‘flaps’ or ones that can be pulled to the side) with the idea that they’ll be able to use the nursing bra after the baby gets here, while the maternity bra is for pregnancy only. Both bras are designed to offer full support for your breasts, and reduce back and shoulder strain. To save money, most pregnant moms purchase nursing bras and wear them throughout their pregnancy.
I'm not going to breastfeed, do I still need to buy a nursing bra?
Even if you aren't planning on nusing your baby, you should still wear a maternity (or nursing bra) during your pregnancy. You can definitely look at maternity-only bras, since you won't be needed the access available in nursing bras. Even if you aren't planning on nursing, your breasts will still develop and get larger (and heavier) during pregnancy. Maternity bras offer the support you will need to stay comfortable during your pregnancy. Since your breasts won't magically return to their pre-pregnancy size right after the baby arrives, you'll probably find the additional support more comfortable during the first few weeks post-partum. If you plan on pumping, instead of nursing, a nursing bra will make access easier when you do pump in addition to giving you the support you need.
When should I buy a maternity bra?
The decision is completely up to you, but at the latest it should be when you outgrow your pre-pregnancy size. Don’t try to ‘suffer through’ bras that are too small, or simply get a larger size ‘normal’ bra. Some pregnant moms will buy maternity bras before they outgrow their pre-pregnancy bras because their breasts are too tender and sensitive for their non-maternity bras.
I’ve heard that I shouldn’t wear an underwire bra when pregnant or nursing, why?
The underwire in non-maternity bras aren’t meant to expand as your breasts grows, causing undue and uncomfortable pressure on your breasts. This increases your risk for blocked milk ducts (and mastitis if you’re breast feeding). The good news is underwire maternity and nursing bras have become widely available in recent years. The underwire in maternity and nursing bras ‘flex’ to allow for your breasts to slightly increase and decrease throughout the day, without causing undue pressure. Make sure the underwire fits fully behind you breasts, not on top of them. If your underwire bra is uncomfortable, you shouldn’t wear it.
Which is better – an underwire or soft cup bra?
It’s a matter of personal choice. Underwire maternity and nursing bras do offer more support than soft cup maternity bras, which may be more comfortable for large-breasted moms-to-be. However, soft-cup maternity and nursing bras are usually more comfortable when the breasts are at their fullest.
What about sports or exercise bras?
There are maternity sports bras available. If you do wear a non-pregnancy sports bra, make sure it’s comfortable, and isn’t ‘squishing’ your breasts too much, or putting too much pressure on them. If you’re exercising – or doing any physical activity for that matter – adequate support will help reduce breast tenderness and sensitivity, as well as reduce back and shoulder strain.
Will a maternity bra prevent stretch marks?
Wearing a fully-supporting maternity bra will reduce your chances, or reduce the severity, of stretch marks. Having proper support for your breasts during pregnancy and nursing will prevent ‘sagging’, which in turn will help prevent stretching, damaging, and tearing skin tissue – all of which will cause stretch marks.
How often should I measure for my bra?
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