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How To Choose The Correct Maternity And Nursing Bras

Your belly isn’t the only part of your body that’ll increase in size when you’re preggers. Chances are that your bras will start to feel too snug even before your bump begins showing, usually at the 10 to 12 week marker. While it may be tempting to continue squeezing the girls in your favourite undergarments for as long as it’s physically possible, all you’ll gain in return are backaches, sore breasts and terrible support. If they don’t fit, it’s time to ditch!

For first time mums especially, making the shift to maternity and nursing bras can be confusing. What kind of undergarments should one pick, what’s the actual difference between a maternity and nursing bra, and why can’t mums-to-be just buy their usual lingerie in bigger cup sizes? We answer your questions.

Q: When is it time for a new bra?

Simple, when your bra becomes too tight. If you notice indentations from the band and straps, have excess breast “spillage” out of the cups, or when it feels uncomfortably snug, it’s high time for a new bra!

Like every unique pregnancy, our bodies and the way it changes during the process is different for each individual. Some mummies-to-be see a sizeable difference from the first trimester and not much change till toward the last few months, while others see increasing cup sizes throughout. Just be prepared for multiple bra shopping trips during your pregnancy.

Q: What’s the difference between maternity and nursing bras?

There’s one major difference: nursing bras are designed for breastfeeding, and have inbuilt panels or clasps that allow easy access for breastfeeding. Beyond that, both have similar features: soft cotton lining offering comfortable support for growing breasts, wider straps and extra hooks on the band.

The type of bra you pick really depends on individual bodies and preference. Some mums choose to rock maternity bras during the first two trimesters, and switch to nursing bras during the third trimester. For mummies who opt to buy nursing bras for pregnancy wear, ensure that you are given room to grow, especially since cup sizes may increase after milk comes in the later trimesters.

The bra “journey” doesn’t stop there! Once you’ve started breastfeeding, your breasts might become a little fuller in the first month or so. Ensure that your nursing bra fits properly even if you’re planning on switching out to normal undergarments.

Q: What other styles of bras should I look out for?

Sleep bras and maternity sports bras. The former provides gentle support for tender breasts while you sleep, and makes it convenient for night nursing. And sports bras provide support during workouts with special fabrics, inbuilt support and comfy padded straps.

Q: How do I know if it fits correctly?

The best way to know for sure if you’re getting the correct size is to get fitted by a professional at a maternity store or at the lingerie department.

As a rule of thumb, make sure that the cups fully cover your breasts without having anything spill out, and that the band stays level without riding up in the back. Also make sure that it is adjustable, offering at least four hook positions so you can adjust your under band when needed.

While you’re in the fitting room, make sure there isn’t any bunching, pinching, or odd sliding anywhere. Make sure that it fits comfortably – any “tiny” problem areas that you spot in the fitting area will definitely be magnified during everyday wear. Also, don’t just buy bigger fashion bras that may fit, but don’t offer the support a pregnant or nursing mum may need. Don’t rush the process! You’ll eventually find the right fit.

There’s also the question of underwire. Some consultants may recommend mothers go without underwire as the pressure on your breasts may lead to blocked milk ducts. However, if you’re used to wearing underwire in normal undergarments, experts say that it’s all right to try it out in your maternity bras – just watch out for signs of discomfort that may suggest a change in bra style.

Q: How many maternity or nursing bras do I need?

It really depends on your budget, but it’s recommended to keep two to three maternity and/or nursing bras on rotation. If you’re not ready to buy new bras, bra extenders that add length to the band are an affordable way to extend (no pun intended) the life of your bras.

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