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When you first become pregnant there are so many things that you need to consider for you and your baby. Who would have thought that you should be thinking of buying a nursing bra as soon as you pee on a stick?! But how is a nursing bra different and why can’t I keep on wearing my regular bra? Let’s break it down.
How is a nursing bra different from a regular bra?
A regular bra is specifically made for a body and breasts that are going through minimal changes – think the monthly changes that come along with your cycle. The wires can be hard and rigid, the cups can be stiff and strong (sometimes even pushing in your breasts like a corset), the straps can be stretchy and thin. This is fine for non-lactating breasts, but it absolutely won’t cut it for developing breast tissue.
Aside from these factors, the only real difference between a nursing bra and a regular bra is the ability to nurse. This can come in the form of drop down nursing clips or pull aside cups. If you want to make your breastfeeding experience as seamless as possible, there are a few other features you should look out for. These include:
- Constructed slings – either an A-frame or folded edge side sling. These are designed to keep your breast in place when the cup is dropped down.
- If there are any wires, ensure they’re flexible ones with a wide “smile”, to ensure they don’t encroach on your precious breast tissue.
- Cotton lined cups for breathability, and because most babies are messy eaters.
- Reversed cup seams or moulded cups, for less irritability against your nipple.
- Wider straps for better support for your heavy, milk-filled breasts.
Did you know: A breastfeeding breast is approx. 33% heavier than a non-lactating breast of the same size?
- 6 hooks and eyes for rib cage expansion and contraction. That way you can let your underband out during pregnancy as your rib cage expands, then bring it back in postpartum as it contracts.
When should you start wearing a nursing bra?
You only need to start wearing a nursing bra when you are nursing, but usually what you’re looking for in a nursing bra will also be in your maternity bra in relation to comfort, breathability and support. Plus, if you start wearing your nursing bra when you are still pregnant, you will be a pro with the clips before you actually start breastfeeding.
As soon as you become pregnant, you should stop wearing your regular bras, especially if they are wired, because they may very quickly stop fitting you. When you are wearing a bra that is too small for you during the stages when your breasts are quickly fluctuating, the bra can restrict your breast tissue. When this occurs, problems may arise such as blocked ducts and other uncomfortable issues.
It is recommended that you don’t wear a flexible wired bra for the first trimester and for the 4th trimester, aka the first 6-8 weeks of breastfeeding. For these stages, where sudden growth can occur, we suggest a seamless bra.
Look for a seamless bra that has the following:
- A double layer, so that it’s more supportive and durable.
- Moulded cups for depth, and to allow for fluctuations without restricting or flattening your breasts.
- High elastane content so that you can wear your bra all day and night.
In all other stages of pregnancy (trimester 2 and 3) and breastfeeding (after the first 6-8 weeks when your milk has regulated) a flexiwire bra is ok as long as it’s your correct size.
How many nursing bras will I need?
Of course this depends on your means, but as a minimum we recommend mamas have three. That way you have one in the drawer, one on, and one in the wash.
There are so many different nursing bras out there that will be perfectly suited for your pregnancy and nursing journey. So, whatever your style, preferred colour or desired support, there is something out there that will be sure to help you transition smoothly and comfortably into being the awesome mama that you will be.
Katie is the proud mom of two beautiful girls and has been responsible for all the designs, style and fit at Cake Maternity for over a decade now.
Just like I am the expert in my field of breast pumping, Katie is a nursing bra specialist and a fit, pattern and grading technician! She is passionate about breastfeeding and the many benefits it offers to both mom, baby and the environment.
She is determined to make the breastfeeding journey a comfortable, supportive and beautiful one for all moms, understanding that it doesn’t always come easy to everyone. That’s why she has made it her mission to empower women as they mindfully navigate the world of motherhood and help make breastfeeding easier, through experience-driven innovation.
I love to support you on your breast pumping journey and I love being able to help you connect with like-minded woman who dedicate their life to your better pumping/nursing expirience.