Start your breastfeeding off right with helpful information from non-profit Best for Babes.

Maternity Bras vs. Nursing Bras: What’s the Difference?

Maternity and Nursing Bras

by Leading Lady

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Before most women even know they’re pregnant, their breasts begin to change, sometimes without them even noticing. But before long, those pre-pregnancy bras are going to start feeling uncomfortable or tight. For some, it may happen early in their pregnancy, for others it may happen towards the end of those forty weeks. Either way, it’s important to wear a comfortable bra that offers support and room for growth.

There are a few differences between a maternity and nursing bra.  A maternity bra is designed to be worn during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, you can expect your breasts to grow anywhere between 1 to 3 cup sizes. Every pregnancy is different so it is hard to gauge just how large your breasts will get until you’re there. A maternity bra is very supportive and is usually designed with stretchy fabric, adjustable straps and additional hook-n-eyes in the back closure to accommodate your changing size. (If you can’t find a bra labeled for “maternity,” just find a well-fitting bra that has these features.)

nursing bra is designed for breastfeeding. Although many women purchase and wear a nursing bra in the last trimester, the design is a little different than that of a maternity bra. The cups of the bra drop down from either a clasp or hook to expose each breast for easier nursing.

Sport Wirefree Nursing Bra

It is very important to have a good fit in a nursing bra. Your breasts may get a little fuller in the early weeks of breastfeeding.  Sometimes a sports-style nursing bra or leisure-style nursing bra offer more flexibility for the breast to grow during early nursing.  After the first month of breastfeeding your breast size won’t fluctuate as much and you can switch to a more structured bra that may give you more of an exact fit, not to mention, better support.

How can you tell it’s time to switch to a maternity bra?

  • If you consistently wear your bra on the first or last hook (the ideal hook is the middle one).
  • If you notice the elasticity has stretched to the point that your bra has lost its shape.
  • If the straps are digging into your skin or slipping off your shoulders despite any adjustments you make. (If straps are a persistent problem for you, try bras with padded straps for added comfort.)
  • If your breasts are poking above the neckline of your cup, spilling out of the sides of your bra or if you are using any of the underbust elastic as part of the cup.

It is extremely important to the health of your breasts, as well as your back and shoulders, to wear a properly fitting bra. As usual, it is recommended you have a minimum three bras: one to wear, one in the wash, and one in the drawer.

Since everyone has their own preference as to what is comfortable, try on several different styles of maternity or nursing bras. Comfort and support are key to finding a good bra, especially during pregnancy and the upcoming months of breastfeeding.

About Leading Lady

Leading Lady is a premiere nursing bra and intimate apparel company. From pregnancy through breastfeeding, Leading Lady’s family of designers and experts are dedicated to outfitting new moms with the advice, style and support they need to nurture their babies from the intimates, out.

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