Shopping for Maternity Bras

Your bra needs will change throughout pregnancy

Maternity bras should provide comfort and support throughout your pregnancy.

Becoming a mother is one of the most life-changing things I ever did and not just because I ended up with these delightful little people in my life! Pregnancy will forever change how you view your body – and your breasts.

Pregnancy changes may both delight and surprise. It’s not just the standard jokes about not being able to see your feet – although that’s a real shock when it comes! Hormones will do all kinds of things to you – not all of them pleasant. For instance, in the early stages of pregnancy, some women experience tender, even painful breasts. When your breasts are tender, you may prefer more support to reduce movement and strain. In my case, I found myself wearing a sleep bra at night because it was uncomfortable to leave my bust completely free.

Of course, breast tenderness is only the start of the changes for your breasts. Virtually every woman will have at least one cup size increase over the course of 9 months. It’s quite normal to increase as much as 2 full cup sizes. (I did!) Very petite women can find this quite astonishing – and even a real benefit of pregnancy and nursing. Expect to see changes in the size of your breasts beginning somewhere between the fourth and fifth month.

When it’s time for that first maternity bra, don’t skimp and buy something that fits poorly just to save a few dollars. Instead, get a properly fitted bra that will provide good support to your changing breasts. While you might want to buy cheap (and here at BraWise, we respect a value shopper), poor fit is never a bargain.

One special tip on fitting during pregnancy: unlike regular bras, where you should fit initially on the basis of the loosest hook setting (so you can tighten it up as the bra ages), you should fit a maternity bra on the tightest set of hooks. If you buy a bra that fits on the tightest band hooks, it can ‘grow’ with you as you gain weight until you need a larger cup size.

Women who go through large weight gains as a normal part of their pregnancies should be prepared to change bras more often. Large weight gain will affect both band size and cup size!

However, there are tricks to save yourself some money. One option when considering a maternity bra is to buy a nursing bra. I can hear you now: “A nursing bra?!” While breastfeeding may seem a long way off when you hardly have a pregnancy bump to speak of, most nursing bras will have the right support and cup design to hold the breasts without pinching or binding. This is important both for nursing later and breast health now. Also, as your baby weight comes off, the bra size you are wearing at the beginning of your pregnancy will likely be your size again – and that can happen while you are still nursing (especially if you nurse beyond six months). So, a nursing bra now can save you money later.

Another way to cope with your rapidly changing body is to look at getting less structured bras with more stretch. Maternity and nursing bras from brands like Bravado allow you to buy a bra that fits a range of band sizes and cup sizes in a single garment. While you won’t want these unstructured garments to be your only bras, they do allow you to have lingerie that will work with you now and will still be working for you after the baby arrives. I had four or five of these, purchased later in my pregnancy, that took me right through the first months of nursing. (Bravado’s fun colors and prints also help make these bras appealing.)

Be prepared for your changing moods. Pregnancy hormones really can do all sorts of things to you. This can include a heightened sense of your sexual drive – usually a combination of those hormones and the lack of need for birth control. In other words, just because you are pregnant, doesn’t mean that you cease to have a sexual side. Buy bras that help you to enjoy and appreciate that new body of yours – including your improved cleavage (which your beloved may also appreciate.)

As in all other phases of your life, it is recommended by experts (including BraWise) that you buy a few different types of pregnancy bras. Your taste in fashion doesn’t just disappear because you happen to have a baby on board. One day, you’ll feel like wearing an underwire bra, while other times you’ll want the comfort of a soft-cup bra. Just remember – always check the fit of a bra as you put it on. We can’t stress enough that you need to avoid binding or pinching.

Hey – if your bra is pinching, you have a perfect excuse for bra shopping!

Looking for more information on post-delivery nursing bras? Check out our article on choosing the right nursing bras!