If you recently just took a pregnancy test and the results came back positive, you need to start equipping yourself with the necessary tools that will ensure a hassle-free delivery as well as a no-fuss post-pregnancy nursing experience.
One of the many tools that you should include in your hospital bag is a nursing bra, which doesn't look much different from a regular bra, but comes with additional features that make it ideal for nursing moms.
Simply put, these are bras for nursing moms, so when it comes time to breastfeed your baby, a nursing bra makes the process a lot smoother than if you were wearing a regular bra.
The significant design difference between nursing bras and regular bras is that the former has cups that can drop down to fully expose your breast while the latter purely functions to cover your breasts.
There are a wide variety of nursing bra styles to choose from, and each has a unique closure system in which you have the option to unzip, unhook, pull aside, or even unsnap the cup section, so your baby can easily access your breast for milk.
Keep in mind that regardless of the style you ultimately decide on, your number one priority should focus on the comfort levels the nursing bra provides since that plays a direct role into whether or not the bra proves to be a proper fit.
Nursing bras are relatively straightforward to use, but if you've never made use of one before, it'll take some getting used to before you feel comfortable wearing a nursing bra in public.
In regards to how nursing bras function, all you have to do is put one on as you would a standard bra, but that’s where the similarities between the two end.
When it comes time to breastfeed your baby, a nursing bra features two cups covering your breasts that can open on command depending on the closure system implemented within the bra’s overall structure.
This quick operating closure system leaves ample room for your baby to experience skin-to-skin contact and satiate its hunger, which is beneficial for your baby in the long run.
Knowing when to buy nursing bras is a tricky process, so it's no surprise that a majority of women mess up this part of the nursing bra buying endeavor. Expectant mothers assume that their breasts are going to grow once post-pregnancy hits since that is when the milk starts flowing through your breasts.
Unfortunately, no one can tell the future, so a large percentage of expectant mothers end up purchasing nursing bras that run too small in regards to size. This occurs because women truly have no clue as to how large their breasts will become.
A general rule of thumb pregnant women adhere to is to go one or two sizes up your typical bra size when you're buying a nursing bra while you're still pregnant. You still run the risk of choosing an incorrect size since the only time you'll know your real nursing bra cup size is when the milk has appeared and settled in your breasts.
Maternity experts recommend choosing a nursing bra that features transitional sizing capabilities, so it can stretch to accommodate your constantly changing bust size.
Keep reading to inform yourself on various types of nursing bras, and we'll make sure to give you the run-down on styles that cater to a variety of bust sizes.
Before you go ahead and start browsing through the thousands of nursing bras available online, you need to familiarize yourself with the various types of nursing bras because one will stand out and cater to your particular needs.
Out of all the types of nursing bras, the underwire style is the least likely one you’ll ever see manufactured since it’s not ideal for breastfeeding purposes. While an underwire is commonly seen amongst regular bras, a nursing bra with an underwire will cause you to feel uncomfortable and as if you were suffocating.
On the other end of the nursing bra spectrum rests wireless nursing bras, which are a much more popular choice amongst mothers when compared to underwire nursing bras. Wireless nursing bras are well-known to provide ultimate levels of comfort will still ensuring that your breasts receive proper support.
These types of nursing bras make up for the fact that they don't have a wire since the foam inserts that function to cover your breasts also provide the support your breasts require.
The only thing mother's hate about wireless nursing bras is that the shape of your breast ends up not looking the way it normally would if you were wearing a standard underwire bra.
You have the option to choose a wireless bra that comes with a cup that's structured to suit a set shape, which causes your breasts to appear perkier in shape that will make your chest look more appealing than the alternative.
When it comes to sports nursing bras, there are two types of bras to choose from which include seamless sports nursing bras and spacer sports nursing bras.
If you plan on performing light exercises such as yoga or pilates, the ideal sports nursing bra that will ensure comfort will be a seamless one. Seamless sports nursing bras function best for low-impact physical activity that requires some freedom on your part to effortlessly move from one position to the other.
Spacer sport nursing bras consist of spacer fabric, which is known to be incredibly durable and guarantees high levels of protection and support.
If you expect to engage in high impact sports, you need to wear a spacer sports nursing bra because your heavy breasts will endure ligament damage if you don't wear a bra that provides ample support.
If you're impatient and want to buy a nursing bra while you're still pregnant, a sleep nursing bra is your best bet for a properly fitted bra that will still function for post-pregnancy purposes.
Sleep nursing bras have the simplest sizing system since it ranges in size from extra small to extra large and so on. This means these nursing bras don’t adhere to a particular cup size, which proves that sleep nursing bras have a much more stretchable quality to them that’s uncommon amongst other nursing bras.
These bras are meant for sleeping, so before you head off to bed, you need to make sure to put on your sleeping nursing bra to prevent milk from leaking from your breasts as well as to ensure your baby has easy access to your breast when it starts crying in the middle of the night.
Health experts advise mothers to decide on a sleep nursing bra that consists of natural fibers, which can be anything from bamboo to cotton. Natural fibers are proven to prevent moisture buildup, so your skin doesn't become irritated, which is common with nursing bras made from synthetic materials.
For mothers who prefer a more discreet nursing bra style, you should consider nursing tanks since they are tank tops with nursing bras built into them. These nursing bras typically come with unnoticeable nursing clips that permit quick breastfeeding action.
You could take advantage of nursing tanks when summertime comes along, and you don't want to layer a nursing bra underneath a separate shirt, so a single layer nursing tank ends up being the more comfortable option.
Sometimes babies have trouble latching onto a mother’s breast and cannot receive any milk on its own, so this is when breast-pumping nursing bras come in handy.
These nursing bras can transform from a regular bra to one that allows you to pump milk out of your breasts and into a bottle in which your baby can drink out of.
Before you confidently start searching the internet for nursing bras since you got a brief overview of the various types, you still need to understand other design aspects in regards to nursing bras.
Only after thoroughly comprehending all the minor nursing bra design details can you make an expert decision as to which nursing bra best suits both your needs as well as your child’s needs.
To figure out your nursing bra size, you first need to understand that nursing bras follow a different sizing chart that doesn’t correlate with your standard bra measurements. This means that if you’re a particular bra size according to a certain brand, you can’t use that as a guideline for a nursing bra size.
Nursing bras vary in size and can reach measurements as large as 46G while some manufacturers produce bras that can reach even higher cup sizes.
If you want to measure yourself, you can one hundred percent do so in the comfort of your home, but the only thing that’ll be a requirement on your part would be a soft measuring tape.
One of the initial measurements you'll be recording will be your band size, which is the area under your bust and around your ribcage. You'll want to pull the measuring tape, so it rests tightly around your body, which allows you to take down the measurement of your band area.
You’ll want to round your band size up to the nearest inch and then adhere to a simple formula that nursing bra manufacturers have come up with to help you estimate the size you’ll be expanding to.
For example, if you have a 34-inch band size, you'll have to add four inches to the measurement, and that'll be the post-pregnancy band size that'll properly fit your chest.
The second area you'll need to measure is your bust, which encompasses the fullest part of your breast. When measuring your bust size, you want to avoid tightly wrapping the measuring tape around your body since this section is the one that will experience the most growth.
Don’t forget to wear a non-padded bra when you’re attempting to figure out your bust size because the additional padding of a bra will mess up your final measurements.
As a side note, make sure to round up to the next whole number since that’ll be your final bust size measurement.
Once you figure out both your band size and bust size, you'll have to subtract the bust from the band, and the resulting number will specify the appropriate cup size.
For instance, if your difference ended up being 2, the equivalent cup size out be a B. If the difference ended up being 7, then the cup size would be a G.
One thing nursing bras have in common is that they should consist of a stretchable material since that's the only fabric type that will allow the bra to perform its necessary duties. During post-pregnancy, your breast size will fluctuate by the hour, so it makes sense that nursing bras feature materials that cater to a changing breast size.
Other than being stretchable, the fabric of a nursing bra should also easily circulate air, so no moisture ends up being locked between your breasts and the bra.
Ultimately, the durability of a nursing bra, as well as its comfort levels entirely, depending on the material the nursing bra is made with.
One of the optimal nursing bra materials you could choose from is hands down cotton since maternity experts everywhere agree that it is the healthiest material out there. Cotton’s lightweight and breathable quality combined with its durable nature allows air to flow in and out of a nursing bra, so you never have to put up with one layer of sweat.
Cotton isn’t as stretchable as other synthetic materials, which is why you’ll notice that cotton is typically combined with a variety of synthetic materials to exhibit increased elasticity.
You can't go wrong with buying a spandex nursing bra since it's known to be extremely flexible, so it can readily conform to your ever-changing bust size. Unfortunately, spandex isn't as breathable as cotton, so it's not recommended to wear a spandex nursing bra for more than a couple of hours.
Depending on the material of your nursing bras, some are machine washable only in cold temperatures, but you can forget about drying them in your dryer. If you follow the proper washing method dictated by the nursing bra manufacturer, you can make your nursing bra last you several years rather than a couple of uses.
You may think that nursing bras and maternity bras refer to one another, but that logic is entirely false. Nursing bras offer their particular purpose that aids during the breastfeeding process while maternity bras primarily come in handy during the actual pregnancy.
When you picture a maternity bra, the image of a bulked up regular bra should come into mind since a maternity bras primary function is to support your steadily growing breasts during the pregnancy portion of motherhood.
Maternity bras typically come with unique design elements that include wide straps, additional hooks, and clasps, as well as cotton lining to promote the feeling of extreme comfort. Don't expect to find underwire cups when you're looking for maternity bras since they prove to be too constricting.
Nursing bras are similar to maternity bras in regards to everything except one particular design aspect which involves nursing bras having clasps over its cups that permit your baby to full breast access for breastfeeding purposes.
Maternity bras also come with two cups, but you cannot open and drop down the cups for breastfeeding access.
Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of minor design details in regards to nursing bras, you can confidently start to expose yourself to nursing bra manufacturers that are well-known to produce professional-quality bras that will appease both your child as well as yourself.
For over 25 years, Bravado! Designs has constantly been revered as a leader in the maternity wear industry, and it all started when it initially made its mark with the release of Bravado! Designs Original Nursing Bra around the early 1990's.
Bravado! Designs received massive acclaim for its production of Bravado! Designs Original Nursing Bra since it was one of the first nursing bras to function as both a regular bra as well as a breast-pumping bra.
You'll know when you see a Bravado! Designs product when a bra conversion kit is included with your order because no other brand goes to those lengths to accommodate to post-pregnancy mothers.
The brains behind Hot Milk consist of two mothers who wanted to provide a solution to an industry that offered close to no variety in regards to fashion-forward maternity lingerie. Hot Milk incorporates the aspects of upscale, luxury lingerie and applies them to nursing bras to create a product that has mother's lining up the street.
In fact, Hot Milk has gained international recognition to the point that over 25 countries that span across six continents have Hot Milk products in circulation. Mothers everywhere are astounded how their inner fashionista doesn’t have to settle for less, which was common before Hot Milk came around.
Elomi is part of a massive lingerie company named Wacoal Europe, who dedicates its time to producing lingerie that makes a woman feel confident and classy while still being pregnant or nursing.
Out of all the nursing bra manufacturers, Elomi offers some of the largest cup sizes that reach up to a J cup, which isn't typical of the brands discussed above. Keep in mind that Elomi specifically produces lingerie for pregnant and full figured women while Wacoal Europe's other lingerie brands cater to other body types.
For those who love department stores, Kohl's is well-known to sell a large variety of clothes that includes maternity wear. Recently, Kohl's collaborated with Lauren Conrad to release a new maternity line that includes fashion-forward nursing bras that are rising the ranks as being a best-selling maternity line.
Hailing from Australia, Cake Lingerie came into existence around 2007 for the sole purpose of producing practical yet stylish maternity wear that would have mothers walking around with the same confidence that they had before giving birth.
Cake Lingerie goes above and beyond to cater to the various need of mothers to the point that it produces all the types of nursing bras that were discussed above.
When it comes to taking care of your nursing bras, it’s safe to assume that the more effort you put into maintaining the bras, the longer they’ll last, which means you’ll get the most out of your money.
First and foremost, it's recommended to hand wash nursing bras even if the manufacturer says it's alright to machine wash them.
Nursing bras are too delicate of an article of clothing to withstand the high water pressure environment of a washing machine, so your best bet for thoroughly cleaning your nursing bras without damaging them would be to perform the hand washing method.
You'll want to make sure not to use any abrasive detergents to wash your nursing bras since they will distort overall supportive and comforting shape that's unique to nursing bras. Since your baby's skin will come into contact with your nursing bra, an ideal detergent would have to be one that is dye-free, perfume-free, as well as soap-free.
When it comes to drying the nursing bras, you’ll only want to line dry them since a drying machine will most likely cause the bras to shrink or to disfigure, which defeats the purpose of buying a nursing bra in the first place.
Hopefully, you now have a deep understanding of specific design aspects as well as features that you need to make a note of before you finalize your nursing bra decision.
The manufacturers mentioned above are an excellent introduction to the maternity wear industry, and we'll be going into more detail regarding these manufacturers over at our buying guide.
Last updated on January 29th, 2019 at 08:34 am