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What Is A Nursing Bra?

Let's get educated on all things Nursing Bra's!

Belle-Lingerie13 April 2023

What Is A Nursing Bra?

If you're pregnant and planning to breastfeed or if you're nursing for the first time, you may have questions about nursing bras. In this post, we explain the benefits of these types of bras and provide you with useful tips for choosing the right nursing bras for you. But first, let’s take a moment to understand what exactly a nursing bra is.

What Are Nursing Bras?

Simply put, a nursing bra is one designed to be used while breastfeeding. Typically, nursing bras feature drop cups. This is where the cups are attached at the top to the straps with a clip. Undo the clip and the cup can be opened up to give your baby easy access to the nipple. Of course, in most cases, you’ll still need to move aside your top as well, but wearing a bra with drop cups helps to make the process easier. When you get a new nursing bra, Undoing the clips on a nursing bra can be an unusual experience at first, so it’s a good idea to practice undoing the clips with one hand so you can be confident when it’s time to feed - especially if you’re new to feeding in public.

But ease of access isn’t the only benefit of a nursing bra. When breastfeeding, lots of women find that their breasts feel heavier - particularly in the early days - and wearing a bra that doesn’t give the proper support can lead to back and neck pain as well as poor posture. Nursing bras are specially designed to give new mothers the comfort and support they need with minimal seams to avoid irritating sensitive skin.

They’re usually made out of soft, breathable fabrics that allow you to stay cool and comfortable all day long. However, this doesn’t mean every nursing bra is right for you. If you find certain fabrics irritate your skin in your everyday bras, steer well clear of them for your nursing bra. Many women find their breasts are more sensitive than usual during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so comfort should be a priority.

Some nursing bras have additional features you might want to consider, such as adjustable or non-slip shoulder straps, wide-cut bands, and different levels of padding. You might also prefer styles where the cups open from the center of the bra rather than the top of the cup.

Top tip! Many maternity bras double as nursing bras. Just look for detachable cups

You can also get nursing bras designed specifically for nighttime. These tend to have room for you to insert breast pads in case your breasts leak in the night, helping you to feel fresher and more comfortable. This can also help you to fall asleep easier without worrying about leaking. You may wish to start wearing these before the birth of your baby or start when you begin breastfeeding.

Can You Wear A Wired Bra When Breastfeeding?

You might have heard that it’s not advisable to wear a bra with an underwire while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, it can be okay to do so if you make sure you’re wearing a properly fitted bra that doesn’t dig into the breast at all. If it does, this could lead to blocked ducts and even mastitis, so it’s best to avoid tight-fitting bras.

Even if you wear a well-fitting underwired bra, you might still find that it’s not as comfortable as you’d like. Some women prefer an underwired nursing bra for added support, whereas others don’t. In some cases, you can get nursing bras with softer, more flexible underwires. These won’t dig in so much, so they’re often more comfortable to wear and pose less of a risk in terms of blocked ducts

Many nursing bras are non-wired bras to allow for maximum comfort, but this isn’t your only option if you want to avoid an underwire. If you don’t need the extra support a nursing bra provides, you could opt for a loose camisole, crop top, or bralette instead. Alternatively, some women prefer to go braless at this time.

How Do You Know What Size Nursing Bra To Buy?

It’s important to get yourself measured and fitted for bras regularly, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most women find their old bra size is no longer the right one for them during these times. Your breasts will change in size throughout the course of your pregnancy, so what fits well in the first trimester usually isn’t right for the third trimester and afterwards. If you’re looking for a bra to wear during breastfeeding, try to get measured and fitted in the last two or three weeks of your pregnancy. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll grow more before you get to wear the bra.

Choosing the right nursing bra is similar to choosing the right size maternity bra, except for one key difference. When looking for a bra to wear after your baby is born, it’s a good idea to opt for one that fits well on the loosest catch. This is because women often find that their band size decreases over time after birth. By choosing a bra that fits well on the loosest setting, you can then tighten it as needed, meaning you can wear that bra for longer before it’s time to get a new one fitted.  

Lots of women opt for nursing bras during their pregnancy too as they share many of the same features as maternity bras. If this is the case, you should opt for a bra that fits well at the tightest setting. Then, as your breasts grow and your ribcage expands over the course of your pregnancy, you can switch to a looser setting to stay comfortable.

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