Nursing Bras: Ultimate Guide To Finding the Perfect Nursing Bra

 

This post has been in the making for a long time.  When I wrote the first part of my Bra Guide series, I was inundated with questions about nursing bras.  In this post I'm going to give you some simple, constructive, and easy to understand tips on how to find the perfect fitting nursing bra for you.  I'm even going to give you recommendations on my favorite nursing bras and where to find them, and answer your questions about how they should fit, when you should purchase one, and the debate over underwire vs non underwire.  

Finding a nursing bra doesn't have to be an awful experience.  Once you understand the basics of what YOU should be looking for in a nursing bra, it will be a quick and painless trip to your local bra department, boutique, or a click or two on your favorite online retailer store. If you're new to my blog or if you feel clueless on bras in general, I'd recommend buying my complete Bra Fit Guide where I go in depth on how bras should and shouldn't fit and the down low on how sizing works, and how to identify your breast shape.

 Once you understand these very important elements in bra fitting, this post will make a lot more sense to you.Also, if you want to learn more about bras in general, check out my Bra Guide!

First Step

I wish I could tell you that there's a nursing bra that has everything and is perfect, but the sad truth is I haven't found the perfect nursing bra yet.  Just like in life, there's not one perfect man, perfect job, perfect house, perfect body, and etc.  This is the same case with nursing bras. The first step is YOU have to do is decide what is important to you.  This can depend on your lifestyle, your bra size, and your budget.  Some of the decisions you're going to have to make are the following:-Do I have the budget to purchase multiple nursing bras?-Do I want to look more shapely in my nursing bra or do I want to look more minimized or flat?-Do I want a smooth look underneath my nursing bra, or does seams in the cups not bother you? -Do I want a feminine or pretty looking nursing bra, or do you want something that is more versatile and basic?-Do you prefer a molded cup or a soft cup? Once you answer these questions, this will help you to clarify what YOU'RE looking for in a nursing bra.  And therefore will make finding the right one for you a lot easier.

Second Step

The second step to finding the perfect nursing bra is knowing what size you are.  If you're fortunate to live near a department store like Nordstrom, Macy's, Dillard's, or a bra boutique or store that specializes in bra fittings or nursing bras, I'd recommend you to go to one of these places and get fitted.  One thing I recommend is reading through my bra sizing guide where I teach you how bra sizing works and how to get an idea of what size you are, so when you go to the bra department, you can tell the bra fitter what size you think you are or where to start with. If you're not fortunate to live near a reputable department store or bra boutique like I know many of you are, you're in luck!

I offer in person and online bra consultations over Skype. For those who live in Utah I can personally meet you at one of my local and favorite brasserie stores where I'll measure you, figure out what bras you need for your lifestyle and help you find the perfect fitting nursing bra or bra. If you don't live in Utah, I offer bra consultations over Skype and Google+ Hangouts where I'll help you find your size, figure out what your needs are for your lifestyle, and send links to my bra recommendations for you to purchase.   If you're interested on rates, information about setting up an appointment, and how my bra consultations work.  For more information, go to my Bra Guide & Consult page.  

Third Step

The third and final step is finding that perfect fitting bra.  Whatever method you choose to do: going to a department store, a bra boutique, nursing bra store, or having me help you, there's some more tips to making the process easier:-Don't go nursing bra shopping when you're rushed, stressed, or have all of your kiddos with you.  You know how children and shopping always turn into a disaster.  It's totally worth it to get a babysitter and go alone. -Know what you're looking for and what you want in a nursing bra before you go to the store.-Ask around your friends, family, and neighbors to see where the most reputable and helpful place to go get fitted. If you can't find one, you can always contact me to help you (shameless plug, I know!)

Here are some most frequently asked questions I get asked a lot about nursing bras.  Here's my answers to them.

1. When should I purchase a nursing bra?

The good news is that there's no perfect time, it's actually kind of flexible depending on what you can do. There's two times I recommend you to start shopping for a nursing bra. The first is sometime during your last month of pregnancy, or closest to your due date.  A lot of women get confused by this because you haven't had the baby and don't know what size you're going to be when your milk comes in.  On average, you need to get one cup size bigger when you're milk comes in.  So let's pretend you're a 34D at eight months pregnant.  When you go shopping for a nursing bra, you should purchase a 34DD bra. The second optionis to go shopping for a nursing bra after you have the baby and when your milk comes in.  My older sister Melanie, who just had her first baby the beginning of December did this option.  One thing I do recommend if you decide to do this option is to get what I like to call a sleeping nursing bra or a shelf nursing bra so you can bring it with you to the hospital. I like these four options:  Bella Materna Padded Nursing Bralet Full Cup, Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing BraMedela Sleep Bra, and Motherhood Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra.FYI, these bras aren't super supportive, but will help you feel some support as you transition from the hospital to home.  I don't recommend you wearing these as your official nursing bra.  These are perfect for sleeping. My opinion, it doesn't matter when you go, just make sure you go one of these two times.

2. Should I wear an underwire or a non underwire nursing bra?

Here are my two cents on this....I like both and recommend them to women for different reasons.  First, like I've mentioned above, you need to decide what is important to you: do you want to be shaped and supported, or is comfort more important to you? Underwire-Shapes and supports the breast A LOT better than non underwire.-Your breast size can change by the hour, minute, and day when it comes to how engorged you are when nursing.  Because of this, sometimes underwires can cause irritation to the breasts and can be uncomfortable when your breasts are engorged. This can cause the underwire to rub against your breasts, and some women blame this on blocked milk ducts and mastitis.  From the research I've done, there's no scientific research saying that underwires cause this.  My philosophy is to avoid any additional irritation to your boobs during nursing because it's already uncomfortable nursing at the beginning.-Nursing bras with underwires tend to look more feminine looking.Non Undewire-Tend to be more comfortable, but doesn't shape and support the breasts as well as an underwire.  If you're a large busted gal and want to go non underwire, I'd recommend you getting a nursing bra with seams in the cups.  The seams will shape and minimize your breasts a lot better than if you get a non underwire nursing bra without seams. -Typically comes in larger selection of sizes.-Perfect for smaller busted gals.-Allows breast size to expand without the bra feeling uncomfortable.-When getting an non underwire, make sure your band is fitting correctly.  What I mean by this is that it's fitting very snug on the loosest hook.  Because this is where your support comes from, and with the lack of an underwire, this is even more important in a non underwire bra.  Learn how your bra band should fit, go here.

 3. Where are the best places to find a nursing bra?

This depends on what is available to you.  The great thing about the internet is its available to everyone.  I found my nursing bras on Amazon.com because they carry a very wide selection of nursing bras, you can see the reviews and comments of each bra, they come in many colors, 99% of they're a lot cheaper, and most of the time have free shipping and returns.  I recommend doing this route when you know what size you are.  If you don't know what size you are, I'd recommend the option below. I'm also a big fan of supporting local businesses because you cannot beat the amazing service you experience when you go to a bra boutique or a nursing bra speciality store.  If you don't like the idea of purchasing 10 bras online, trying them on, and returning the ones you didn't like, then I recommend you going this route.  Plus if you don't have a week to wait for your nursing bra to come in the mail, this is another reason to go this route.  Nordstrom is my favorite place to go for my nursing bras because they have the best service, return policy, and have the widest selection of nursing bras than any other department store.  Macy's and Dillard's is also a good option, but they don't carry as many of my favorite brands and their selection of sizes is limited.  If you have a nursing bra boutique or specialty store, they should have a good selection of nursing bras too.There's a couple of places I do not recommend for getting your bra.  Please don't go to Victoria's Secret because they don't carry nursing bras and my least favorite place is Motherhood Maternity. After reading this paragraph you might think of me as a snob, and I have to admit I am when it comes to my boobs and bras.  I went into Motherhood Maternity when I was pregnant with Amelia just to see how they "fitted" women.  Let's just stay I left laughing because they tried to measure my band size with my clothes on.  I wanted to say to the lady helping me, "Do you know by measuring over my thick wool sweater is adding 2-3 inches to me?"  She measured me a 36B, which is way off of what I was.  They do not carry a wide selection of sizes and their bras are crap.  Don't waste your money.  Invest in your bras, it's well worth it.If you don't feel comfortable with any of these options, I can help you.  Go here for more information. 

4. What options are there in larger cup size nursing bras?

I got some great news for you larger cup size gals, there's a lot of options for you.  There's a good selection in underwire, non underwire, seamed cups, pretty and feminine looking bras, and lots of colors and styles to choose from.  When I mean larger cup sizes, I'm talking about DDD to a K cup.Some of my favorite nursing bra brands for larger cup size gals are: Elomi, Anita International, Panache, Elle McPherson, Goddess, Freya, and Le Mystere.Here are some of my picks for larger cup size gals:Anita Maternity Women's Microfiber Nursing Bra #5068Anita Women's Underwire 5035, Nursing BraElomi Smoothing Molded Nursing Bra (3912), Freya Dotty Nursing Bra (2034)Goddess Women's Keira Nursing BraLe Mystere Women's Sexy Mama Nursing BraPanache Women's Sophie Nursing Bra.

5. What options are there for smaller cup size nursing bras?

I'm sad to say that fitting a small busted gal can get difficult.  Most women grow one to two cup sizes when their pregnant.  There's some women that don't grow at all.  It's funny because there's not as many options for really small busted gals, BUT I've put together a list of nursing bras that covers down to a B cup.  Most problems that small busted women run into is that they want a molded cup so it covers their nipples and they want something that is going to enhance and shape them.  I have soft cups and molded cups, and underwire and non underwires listed below.  One thing to realize when you're going for a molded cup nursing bra is the cups in the these bras tend to get creases in them due to the motion of pulling the cup down to breastfeed.  These creases will show underneath your clothes, so something to consider if that is going to bug the crap out of you.  A good friend of mine suggested instead of folding down the cup, roll it down instead and this will help decrease the creases in the cup.  Some of my favorite brands are: Anita International, Elle McPherson, and Cake. Anita Maternity Women's Underwire Nursing Bra #5041Anita Women's Polka Dot Nursing BraAnita Women's Underwire 5035 Nursing BraBella Materna Women's Maternity Sexy Nursing BraCake Nursing Luxury Seamless Cotton Candy BraElle Macpherson Intimates Maternelle Nursing BraLa Leche League Seamless Nursing T-Shirt Bra (4507)You! Maternity Nursing Bra - Nude with Nude Lace Trim

6. How many nursing bras should I own?

This depends on what your budget is. Ideally I would advise you to get two at a time so you can wear one and wash one.  One thing to remember is when your milk comes in, your breasts are going to be very engorged and large.  So get a bra that fits you when you're at your largest.  Most women within a couple of weeks or months after nursing start to lose weight and will notice that their breast size will decrease too.  If you see gaps or puckering in the cups, or if your band feels loose, it's time to get another bra.  Yeah, being a woman can get expensive.  For an example, two months after having Amelia, the bra I bought when my milk came in was too big.  So I got the same nursing bra but in a cup smaller. Make sure you get refitted when you notice your bra is getting too big because 90% of the time if you lose 5-10 pounds will affect your bra size.  Most women think they just need one nursing bra in one size the entire time their nursing. That's not the case.  You want to pay attention to how you feel in your bra and how your bra looks.  On average you can expect to change sizes 2-3 different sizes when nursing.  

7. Is molded cup or a soft cup best?  Seams or no seams?

Both have pros and cons to them.  Molded cups are great for giving a smooth look underneath clothing, shaping, and for covering those protruding nipples caused by nursing, BUT they can be extremely difficult to fit especially with larger busted women.  The reason behind this is because molded cups are shaped a certain way and if your breasts aren't perfectly shaped, which most women don't have perfectly shaped breasts unless your augmented, the cup is going to gap at the top or on the side.  For larger busted gals, I recommend soft cups with underwires because they're easier to fill and fit.  If you're a smaller busted gal, molded cups are fine, BUT they tend to crease in the cup because when you pull down the cup to nurse, the foam cup inside the bra gets folded over.  Repeating this motion many times will create creases in the middle of the cup and you'll be able to these underneath your t-shirts, thin, or fitted tops.  Like I mentioned above, if you do wear a molded cup, make sure you roll the cup down instead of folding it over.  Seams are great for shaping the breasts.  When I mean by shaping, seams will shape the breasts to make them look a different shape.  A seam that runs across the bra will make the breast look fuller, while a seam that runs up and down will make the breast look more centered.  If you want the ultimate shaping duo go for an underwire bra with seams.  If you're a larger busted gal and don't want to wear an underwire, I recommend you getting a bra with seams.  A non underwire bra with no seams will pretty much give you tube boob effect.  Bras with no seams will give you a very smooth look underneath your clothes.  I recommend these for the following cup sizes: AA, A, B, C, D, DD, DDD, and DDDD.

8. My nipples are constantly showing through my bra and clothes, any suggestions on how to hide them?

Yes!  Either wear a molded cup nursing bra, wear nursing pads, these two are my favorite:Lansinoh 20265 Disposable Nursing Pads, 60-pack and Mother-Ease Cloth Nursing Pads (3-Pack) (Bamboo)Or try these: Bra Discs Nipple Covers Style 4101

9. Can I wear a nursing bra when I sleep?

Yes!  It's a personal choice.  Personally, I find wearing an underwire bra to bed really uncomfortable, so that's why I recommend the sleeping nursing bras or a shelf nursing bra.  I recommend these ones: Bella Materna Padded Nursing Bralet Full CupBravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing BraMedela Sleep Bra, and Motherhood Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra.

10. What features in a nursing bra should I look for?

Try to go with a nursing bra that is easy to unfasten the cup with one hand.  This will make nursing a lot easier when you're holding a baby in the other hand.Avoid front closer bras that snap in the middle, sports bra, or a bra that isn't a nursing bra  This can make nursing a hassle.  Also, the con with front closure bras is when the brand stretches out, you can't tighten it in the back.  Try to look for nursing bras that have several rows of hooks in the back because after you have the baby you will lose weight, and by having more than three rows of hooks will allow you to tighten the bra, making it last you longer.Buy what is comfortable to you. Buy a nursing bra that will work for your lifestyle.  If you're a fashionista who loves lace and color, and wants to feel pretty underneath your clothes, then get one.  If you're going to be staying at home and want a nursing bra that will work with t-shirts, hoodies, and fitted tops, then go with something that is practical and will give you a smooth look.It's so important to wear a supportive bra when your nursing because you're breasts are super de duper extra engorged and large during this period of time.  If you're not wearing a supportive bra, the delicate breast tissue in your breast can break and this can cause saggy breasts.  So make sure the band fits snug on the loosest set of hooks.I hope this post has helped you answer your nursing bra questions!  Remember, if you want to learn more about bras, go to my Bra Guide tab!If you have questions about nursing bras, be sure to leave a comment below!  If you have questions or are interested in getting more information about my in person and online bra consultations go here.