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Shopping for a bra is not a favorite pastime. It’s often a frustrating and time consuming process to find a comfortable bra that fits well especially during pregnancy and/or when chest/breastfeeding or pumping. It’s even more daunting when one is expecting and trying to figure out what bra to get. Or for a mom who has delivered her baby and has found that the bra she wore during pregnancy no longer fits. In addition, many people wind up wearing the wrong bra size and for chest/breastfeeding parents, getting a bra that fits correctly is really important for comfort and success in chest/breastfeeding. An improper fit only leads to an uncomfortable bra that could lead to plugged ducts and mastitis! Here is our expert advice for shopping for a maternity or chest/breastfeeding bra. 

When To Buy A Bra And Why

Moms start making milk in their breasts around 14 weeks into their pregnancy. Some moms will see growth in their breasts as early as this time. As they progress through their pregnancy, they can continue to change both in band and cup size until after pregnancy. After pregnancy, their band size will likely also change along with their cup size. Mothers can buy a bra during their pregnancy that they can adjust as their band size changes. Moms should never be uncomfortable! It can be helpful to use a bra extender and consider buying a seamless bra to maintain comfort throughout pregnancy and the postpartum stage. We have two breastfeeding centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and invite local parents to come to our breastfeeding center at 11-12 weeks postpartum for a bra that is more cup fitted with a personalized bra fitting. We recommend that moms have at least three chest/breastfeeding bras so they have one to wear, one in the wash and one ready to wear in the event of leaking-which is a common and normal thing when breastfeeding!

Getting The Right FIT

You’ve got to try it on as there is really no other way to tell if a bra will fit you unless you try it on. Some bras are more narrow in the front while others fit wide under the arm. The difference in how a bra is cut has a large impact in how much support you get, and how well you are supported. This applies to both fitted and seamless bras. It’s best to be measured when you go to try on bras to ensure that you are looking at the right sizes. We recommend going to a store that carries a lot of different brands so you can try them on. Healthy Horizons has the largest nursing bra selection in the Bay Area, so if you are local, there are many to try on and if you are not local, we have many styles and brands on our website.

The Materials

Not all bras are made out of the same quality material. Less expensive nursing bras are made from either spandex or a spandex/nylon combo for a low price. These bras tend to be uncomfortable when worn for a long time. They also don’t have much support under the cups so the band tends to roll up when being worn. Sometimes a mom might get great support when the bra is new, but the spandex stretches out quickly over time and the bra is unable to give her the support she needs. A bra that has a U shape rather than an H in the back helps the straps sit better on the back and prevent a squashed in look. Lastly, these inexpensive bras don’t always breathe well, which can make the bra feel clammy and even more uncomfortable. An example of a staple seamless nursing bra is the Bravado Silky Seamless which is made up of 100% elastane or 51% Nylon, 42% Polyester, and 7% spandex. 

Clasps, Buckles, and Padding

Bras like the Bravado Silky Seamless or Rock Candy Cake Bra have a lot of clasps in the back, which can be worn through the end of their pregnancy and well into the postpartum weeks. These bras also have light padding in the cup that can easily be removed. Sometimes breasts are more sensitive and wearers find it helpful and more comfortable to have that extra cup. Moms have also requested bras with the cups because they help maintain a shape while wearing nursing pads. Finding the right nursing bra is essential to ensuring that your bra gives you the right support in the long run, is comfortable, and won’t cause problems down the road. Ideally, to ensure that you’re getting the right bra, it is great to try it on. At our Healthy Horizons Breastfeeding Centers, we offer complementary bra fittings and carry several brands of nursing bras to try on. Some of the brands we carry are Bravado, Cake Maternity, Anita, Medela, Cache, Le Leche League and Boob Sport Bras. We invite you to come by our center to find the right bra for you or check out our web store!