Advice on choosing maternity and nursing bras to help keep you supported throughout pregnancy and beyond.
One of the first changes many women notice after they fall pregnant is an increase in the size and sensitivity of their breasts. This enlargement and tenderness is thanks to the influx of hormones that are helping your body to prepare to carry and nurture your baby and your breasts to prepare for breastfeeding once your baby arrives.
Wearing properly fitted maternity bras throughout pregnancy is essential in preventing your breasts from drooping and the skin sagging as your milk ducts develop and gravity takes its toll. Breasts are particularly susceptible to hormonal changes as they are made up of ligaments (which tend to soften and stretch in pregnancy anyway) rather than muscle. While this may mean saying a temporary goodbye to the cleavage enhancing numbers you may have favoured while you were trying to conceive, its well worth it in the long run!
It is likely that you will need several different maternity bras throughout pregnancy as you may go up anywhere between 2 and 4 cup sizes during the nine months. Regularly checking that your bra fits properly (and investing in a new one when it becomes a bit of a squeeze) will ensure that you're comfortable and your breasts have the support they need.
While it is advisable to go and get properly fitted for your maternity bras, it is possible to work out your size for yourself. Here's how......
- To work out your band size (the number part) take a tape measure and place it around your body so that it lies flat just under your bust. Take this measurement in inches, rounding up if the circumference comes out as an uneven number (i.e. if the actual measurement is 37" your correct band size would be '38'). You now have your band size.
- To work out your cup size you should take the tape measure and place it around the widest part of your bust whilst wearing a well fitted, unpadded bra. Again, take this measurement in inches. You will then need to work out the difference between this measurement and your band size to find out your cup size. Every inch of difference between these two measurements is equivalent to an increase of one cup size.
e.g. Say your band size is 36 inches and your bust measurement is 39 inches, the difference between the two is 3 inches. Using the table below you can see that this is equivalent to a C cup size, so your overall bra size would be 36C.
Tips on choosing a maternity bra
|Bust measurement||Cup Size|
|1" - 2"||A|
|2" - 2 1/2"||B|
|2 1/2" - 3 1/2"||C|
|3 1/2" - 4 1/2"||D|
|4 1/2" - 5"||E|
|5" - 6"||F|
|6" - 7"||G|
- To minimise irritation look for bras made largely of cotton without seams over the nipples.
- Check that the front of the bra fits flat against the breastbone and that the back of the bra sits at the same level as the front and doesn't ride up.
- Try and avoid underwired maternity bras as there is a possibility these could interfere with blood flow and developing milk ducts.
- Choose bras with as much fabric covering the breast area as possible as these provide more support.
- Ideally you should choose bras with wide straps, deep sides and a supportive under bust band to minimise movement
- You may want to check that there is a little room to grow so if you seem to be in between sizes its usually better to round up so that you have room to expand.
- Try to choose a maternity bra with several sets of hooks and eyes on the fastening - if you are in the earlier stages of pregnancy you should check your bra fits comfortably on the tightest setting to begin with, and if you are in the later stages choose one that fits on the last eyes so that you can make it smaller after you have had your baby and your rib cage decreases in size.
- In the later stages of pregnancy it can be good value to go for a maternity/ nursing bra with clips or opening cups that can be used for convenient breastfeeding after you have your baby.
There are a huge range of maternity bras available in different styles, shapes and colours so whether you prefer pretty pastels or daring animal prints you can be sure you'll find one that is right for you so that you stay comfortable and supported throughout your pregnancy.