Tips for Buying a Nursing Bra: Breastfeeding 101

Tips for Buying a Nursing Bra: Breastfeeding 101

Apr 22, 2018

As if bra sizing and shopping isn't already complicated enough, during pregnancy and breastfeeding you’ll need special bras to accommodate your baby's frequent need to access your size-fluctuating, leaking breasts. Breastfeeding can be challenging enough, so having the right support will make a significant difference in your comfort. Here are a few things you need to know about how to buy a nursing bra.

Timing is Everything

You may be tempted to excitedly buy up cute nursing bras as soon as you find out you're pregnant—or on the flip side, wait until the baby's here so you know what size you'll be—but the perfect timing to purchase your nursing bras is about eight months' gestation. By this time, you'll have gained about as much weight as you're going to gain, and your breast size will have changed to prepare for lactation. You'll want to have them on hand when your baby is born, so you're not dealing with bra shopping while newly postpartum.

How to Size a Nursing Bra

It’s always a smart idea to get professionally sized, either through a maternity boutique or at a department store. Try to have a bra fitting around your 36th week of pregnancy, so you'll have a better idea of what you’ll need while breastfeeding—if you’re bulging out the top or the sides of your bra, you’ll need a larger cup size. Also, your rib cage is extended right now to accommodate your baby in your torso, so get a band size that fits you on the loosest setting right now. Once things start to return to normal postpartum you'll be able to wear the band on the tighter settings. Test out your bra for 5 minutes in the store to see if there’s any pinching, sagging or bunching. Be sure to also pick up a couple of stretchy, sports-style nursing bras to help you with all those in-between-sizes moments too!

To Underwire or Not to Underwire

Should you get nursing bras with underwire? That is up to you. If you're accustomed to wearing underwire, especially if you have large breasts, you might feel uncomfortable or miss the support with a wireless bra. However, your breasts may be pretty sore temporarily after giving birth, and your comfort is paramount. Some moms have also reported clogged ducts from the pressure of the wires. You may want to consider getting a few nursing bra with and without an underwire so you can see how they make you feel.

How Many Nursing Bras Do You Need?

A good start on nursing bras might include at least two sturdy and comfortable everyday bras, two stretchy cotton bras for lounging and sleeping, and maybe even something a little lacy for when you're ready to bring sexy back. If you are a heavy leaker, you should consider stocking up on a few more to avoid wearing wet bras—if you have one in the washer, one in the dryer, and one on you—you'll need a backup, just in case!

Nursing bras don't really have to be any more mystifying than regular bras. Purchasing good quality nursing bras toward the end of pregnancy can save you a load of problems and you'll save yourself a lot of frustrating trips to the store with your newborn in tow. Some of our favorite brands include Cake Maternity and Bravado Designs paired with a Naked Tank nursing tank. A great breastfeeding bra will be the workhorse of your wardrobe in the coming months, shop around!

Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.