If this is your first pregnancy, buying maternity and nursing bras probably seems like a whole new world, and a daunting one at that! Even if you’ve had a baby before, it’s quite likely that your bras from your last pregnancy will be past their best, or not quite the right size. Shopping for a well-fitted bra can be a chore at the best of times, let alone when you’re feeling exhausted in early pregnancy, or have a new baby to think about. We hope that this guide will help you figure out what you need and when, and take away some of the hassle and stress.
Whilst expanding waistlines are usually the first thing that pops into anyone’s head when thinking about all the changes to your body that come with pregnancy, it’s more often tender, achy breasts and an increase in your bust size that are the first sign that you are expecting a baby, even before the dreaded morning sickness makes an appearance. You might start to notice changes in your breasts from 4-6 weeks, and your pre-pregnancy bras may start to feel tight and restrictive. It’s important to take good care of your breasts during pregnancy as they have no muscles, only ligaments which can be overly stretched if not properly supported. On its own, this may not be a problem, but for the sake of comfort (particularly if you already have large breasts), you will probably find you need a bit more support in your bra than usual. During the nine months of pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding, breasts can gain up to 500 grams – that’s half a bag of sugar!
If you can bear to wait, the ideal time to visit us for a maternity bra fitting is at around 16-18 weeks as this is when your cup size will usually have increased to its maximum for the duration of your pregnancy. It is also the time when your ribcage will start to expand ready to accommodate your growing baby. A good maternity bra fitted at this point in your pregnancy should then last you right through without you having to go bra-shopping several times, which should save you money too. If you’re really uncomfortable though, you can of course come sooner – we’re more than happy to advise, and there are bras that are flexible enough to see you through several different sizes. Most women increase 1 full size in both the cup size and the rib band of their bra during their pregnancy. For example, if you were a size 34C prior to being pregnant, you will likely grow to a size 36D during your pregnancy. It’s not an exact science, of course, and some people will grow more than this, whilst some will see less of a change, but as a guide, we’ve found this to be pretty accurate. Whatever your size, there is a bra to fit you, and we will help you find it!
Top tips for buying a maternity bra:
- When you buy a maternity bra, it is essential that it feels comfortable around your ribcage on the tightest hook at the back. This way you have another two or three hooks to grow into during the next few months.
- Ensure that the fabric of the cup fully covers your breast and feels supportive; it should feel snug but not tight under your arms.
- If you’re choosing a wired bra, make sure that the wires are not sitting on any part of the breast tissue. The milk ducts in your breasts develop during pregnancy, and an ill-fitting wired bra can be very uncomfortable.
- It’s worth taking the time to have a professional bra-fitting. A good maternity bra should last for the whole of your pregnancy, though of course everyone is different and some women may find their size changes more dramatically than others. It’s possible that you may find your bra is getting tight again in the last month of your pregnancy – this is quite normal, however it’s advisable to buy nursing bras after this point, unless you are not planning to breastfeed.
Our maternity bra recommendation:
A great buy is the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Maternity & Nursing Bra as it will last throughout pregnancy, and since it has nursing clips and drop-down cups, many women find they can then continue to wear it after the birth of their baby for nursing. Ideal for tender breasts when nothing is comfortable, this bra is buttery-soft and completely seamfree, so it’s perfect for sensitive skin, doesn’t show underneath close-fitting clothing, and is even comfortable enough to sleep in. The Body Silk bra is specially designed so that each size (S-XL) covers a range of bra sizes, which makes it a great choice if you’re still growing, as there is much more flexibility. Bravado has a huge celebrity following and the Body Silk fits up to F cup whilst breastfeeding so if you were D cup or less prior to being pregnant, it is a great investment.
As your due date draws closer, you’ll be thinking about getting everything ready for the impending new arrival. If you’ve decided to breastfeed, this will include nursing bras. The best time to visit us for a nursing bra fitting is any time that suits you during the last month of your pregnancy. You will probably find that you need to buy 1 or 2 cup sizes larger again from your pregnancy size, but you should also choose your pre-pregnancy back size as your ribcage will start to shrink back after the birth of your baby. In other words, if you were a size 34C before your pregnancy, you will most likely have been a 36D during your pregnancy, and you will therefore need size 34E or 34F for breastfeeding your baby.
Top tips for buying a nursing bra:
- When fitting a nursing bra, you need the bra to fit comfortably on its loosest setting (ie the last hook on the back). Your rib cage will start to reduce in size after the birth of your baby, and you need to be able to tighten up the back of your bra as your size goes down, otherwise you’ll only get a few weeks’ wear out of it. Most of the support in any bra comes from the underbust band, and if this is not tight enough the bra will ride up and it won’t offer the support you need. This in turn means you’ll have to tighten up the straps too much, which can leave painful red marks, and if you have larger breasts you may well end up with backache to boot. Not much fun! A bra that fits properly under the bust should sit level so that when you look in the mirror from the side, the band is the same height front and back. You do need to be comfortable, so although the bra should be tight enough not to ride up, you should still be able to slide two fingers underneath the band without difficulty.
- The fabric of the cups should feel supportive. When your milk comes in (usually on about day 3 or 4 once your baby is here), your breasts will suddenly get bigger and probably feel quite hard and tender. This won’t last for long, so don’t worry! It does mean though that you need to have a bra that isn’t too tight to start off with. A bra with a little bit of stretch in the cup is ideal. The breast tissue should be fully enclosed in the cup (especially with a wired bra), so that there are no uncomfortable seams, wires or straps sitting on the breast tissue. If you look sideways-on in the mirror you should not be able to see the top of the cup digging into the breast (the dreaded “four-boob effect”!)
- Your bra should be snug under your arms, but not too tight. If you find the bra is rubbing or cutting in under your armpit, it may be that the cup is too big.
- We recommend that you buy two nursing bras to start you off: one with good support for day and a softer one for night feeds and sleeping in. (This also means that you have one to wear and one in the wash.) It’s tempting to stock up in advance, especially if you find one you really love, but in case your cup size increases more than expected, it’s probably best not to get too many to begin with. Once you are confident that the bras you have are the perfect fit, you can buy more. If you’re not certain you have the right fit, just pop in any time we’re open and we’ll check it for you free of charge.
Our nursing bra recommendations:
1. As above, the Bravado Body Silk maternity/nursing bra is a great choice, especially for the early weeks. Soft enough to sleep in, whilst still offering shape and support for daytime wear, it’s suitable for up to an F cup and comes in 4 colours.
2. An Anita underwired nursing bra is the perfect choice if you have larger breasts and/or if you usually wear underwired bras as it has soft, natural shaping with seamfree cups, is extremely comfortable and safe to wear, and also offers incredible support up to J cup.
All of our bra-fittings are free-of-charge with no obligation to buy. We stock a range of brands and styles, and whilst we’re confident that we’ll be able to find a bra that suits your needs, if for any reason we can’t, we’ll never try to sell you a bra that we’re not satisfied will fit you properly or do what you need it to. We are a small, independent business run by two local mums, and we rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, so we want you to be happy with what you’ve bought. We also realise that decent bras can be quite a considerable financial investment, so we want you to get plenty of wear out of them! You can come in at any time for a fitting (no appointment necessary), and pop back as many times as you like to check you’re still in the right size. We can also offer support and advice about anything to do with bra-fitting or maternity and nursing wear over the phone or by email or Facebook message, so feel free to contact us any time you want to and we’ll do our very best to help.
For a chance to win a bra of your choice after a specialist bra fitting at Expecting Mum & Baby, enter the York Mumbler Pregnancy Special Big Prize Draw (closing date 30th September 2017)
Expecting Mum & Baby
T: 01904 466511
Shop online: www.expectingmaternity.co.uk (Free UK P&P over £25)
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