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For starters, nursing bras are specially designed for pregnant women and lactating mothers. They’re are brassieres that provide protection and easy access while breastfeeding the baby without having to take off the bra completely.

What is the difference between a normal bra and a nursing bra?

A nursing or a maternity bra is just a modified version of a normal bra that is designed to facilitate the growing breasts comfortably as they increase in size during pregnancy and lactation. In a nursing bra, you will find that the straps are wider, the inner lining is of a comfortable cotton fabric and it also comes with extra hooks. This fulfills the purpose of it being extra support for the breasts and also the back so it does not hurt. the most important feature that you cant find in a normal bra is that the nursing bras contain a front clasp or a detachable cup of the bra that allows easy access to the breast while breastfeeding and you do not have to take the whole bra off.

When do I need to start buying nursing bras

If you buy nursing bras right along the first trimester of your pregnancy, it is possible that your cup size might increase a number or two by the end. If you want to buy at the start, try buying a number more than yours. It is advisable that you wait at least till the second trimester. All pregnancies are different and they breast growth is different in different pregnancies. Sometimes you might increase on the cup side after the first trimester and not increase at all late or you might increase a number or two until the end of the second trimester. So always wait so you can be sure.

You might feel the need to invest in more than 2 nursing bras but it all depends on your budget. If the budget is tight, invest in bra extenders that are attached to the back side of your bra and add extra length to it because as your pregnancy ends you grow another cup size during lactation.

So it is advisable you buy your nursing bras at the end of your pregnancy and you will know for sure which size you need to buy more of.

Take Your measurements Yourself

Now that you are pregnant and would be repeatedly investing in nursing bras or maternity bras, it is good to know how to measure your own bra size. Buy a flexible measuring tape and place it underneath your breasts, just around the torso, and under your arms. Whatever number you get or the pointer points at is the bandwidth which denotes how big the band under your breasts will be. When you have the number, add 3 inches into it for a perfect fit for you. If your bandwidth number is an odd number, choose the closest (usually higher)  even number.

To get an accurate measure, use the same measuring tape and measure the width around the back as well and to the fullest point of the breasts. If the inch difference is 0-1.5 you are a size A. if it’s 1.5-2.5 the size is B, 2.5-3.5 the size is C and so on till DD which is 5-6, DDD 6-7, G is 7-8 and so on.

If you are facing difficulty with this, try an online bra size calculator or go to a maternity clothes store and ask the staff to help you out. Once you know your perfect size you can order online easily

Carefully examine the material and build of the Bra

While buying your nursing bra, carefully examine the bra strap to make sure that it is wide enough. Thin bra straps leave marks on your skin and can be very painful and uncomfortable to wear. A wider bra strap easily distributes the weight of the bra and adds to your comfort.

Buy a bra that is made of either cotton or a very breathable light material that will maximize the flow of air. A bra that is padded or of some other material will trap air, make it humid, encourage the growth of bacteria and your skin will either get really itchy or produce sores.

Check flaps thoroughly

Since the nursing bras contain flaps that open and close on the bra, before buying you need to check if the flaps are soft and not too hard for you to open or close with one hand. While feeding the baby, you will only have one hand free so it is important to check if the flap opens and closes easily.

Check For Comfort When The Flap Is Open

You’ve worn the bra, checked the material and opened the flaps with one hand. Everything is working out but wait! Be sure to check if the bra does not poke into your skin or your ribs while the flap is open. Some bras may seem perfectly fine when the flap is closed but as soon as you open the flap, it pokes into the ribs and is very uncomfortable especially if you are feeding and have a baby in one hand.

Mistakes To Avoid

We have covered the part where you understand what to look for, now comes the part where you remember the things you need to avoid;

  • Buy a well-fitted bra. Since you will buy your bra at the end of your pregnancy it is advisable that you buy a well fitted one. Loose fit bras do not tend to support your breasts properly causing backache
  • Buy bras that have at least 3-4 hooks on the back and at least 3-4 eyes. Hook the bra on the loosest hook, it will provide you with space to tighten it when your rib cage contracts again after pregnancy.
  • Invest in a seamless bra. Your body for at least 7 weeks will keep changing post pregnancy and seamless bras help adjust to your increasing or decreasing cup size.