This may come as a surprise to you but you’re most likely wearing the wrong size bra! Due to outdated measurement techniques, up to 80% of women are walking around with ill-fitting bras.
Back in the 1930’s, bra sizes only went up to a D cup (and that was considered BIG). Now cup size measurements can go as high as N (which is equivalent to a British JJ). There tends to be a big variation between manufacturers because no international standards exist.
This guide will help you understand more about bra sizing and what to look out for when choosing a bra for pregnancy or breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, your breasts will get bigger and your rib cage may expand so you’ll need to look at getting some new bra’s. A good bra should feel supportive and not squash your breasts or compress any milk ducts. Your breasts will be more sensitive during pregnancy and breastfeeding and a properly fitting bra can make all the difference.
There is a fantastic resource online for finding your correct size. You might be in shock what your bra size actually is. Head to A bra that fits calculator and then be pleasantly surprised by what a well-fitted bra actually feels like!
Keep in mind that your breasts will change a lot in pregnancy and then again after birth when your milk comes in. So, you will need to measure a few times. Any time you notice a change or your bra feels uncomfortable, use the calculator again.
Maternity bra’s have more hooks than a normal bra so that they can be easily adjusted. Look for bra’s that have 6 rows of hooks on the band. This way you can more comfortably adjust your bra as your rib cage and breasts change in pregnancy.
You can use ‘bra extenders’ to widen the band a little and accommodate changes. When buying a bra during pregnancy, it’s good to find one that fits on the tightest hook so that you can loosen it if your rib cage expands. Overall, make sure it is comfortable!
You’ll notice that nursing bra’s have clips that allow you to open and close the cup. This allows you to discreetly breastfeed without having to remove your bra.
Your nipples will feel more sensitive during pregnancy and lactation so you might prefer softer fabrics like cotton or bamboo. You may even like to look at getting a ‘nursing tank top/singlet’ as these can be more comfortable.
Look for bra’s that don’t have underwires in them. These are best for pregnancy and lactation as they won’t put pressure on the milk ducts. If you wear an underwire bra that doesn’t fit properly, it can compress milk ducts and lead to blockages or mastitis.
If you like under-wire, make sure you are definitely wearing the correct size bra. You can also find bras that have ‘flexi-wire’ which are designed to flex with your body as your breasts increase and decrease (due to milk production).
It’s best to wear a bra with soft cups (no wire) in the first weeks of postpartum when your milk supply is establishing and your breasts are changing size the most.
The band should feel firm and comfortable and not ride up the back. After doing a ‘swoop and scoop’ (google it!) all the breast tissue should fit well inside the cup with no bulging over the top or sides. The straps should not dig in or slip off the shoulder. The breasts should be supported primarily by the band, rather than the straps. You should be able to breathe and move easily.
There are many different brands of maternity and nursing bra’s. You may like to check out: Anita, Cake, Bravado, Hotmilk, Freya, B free, Bonds, Thirdlove and for pumping bra’s try Medela or Simple Wishes.
Now, go use ‘A bra that fits’ calculator and discover how amazing a properly fitted bra feels!
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