Whether it’s your burgeoning bump or your post-birth changing figure, you should make sure your smalls are up to the task, says Tiffany Karam, maternity underwear expert for K-Lynne
At what point in your pregnancy should you start considering buying nursing bras?
As soon as you notice the under band getting tighter on the bras you currently wear, it is time to invest in a more supportive bra. Most women think that buying one size up of what they’re currently wearing will work, but if the bra you’re wearing to begin with is a wrong size, you won’t be doing yourself any favours! We highly recommend getting fitted as this will change the way you feel about wearing bras. Particularly when you’re pregnant, breasts can be very tender and sore, so a proper bra fitting will leave you with a supportive bra that will prevent discomfort and unnecessary strain on your neck and shoulders. For nursing bras, it is best to wait until your eighth month to buy one, since your bust size should stabilize by that time. Buy one cup larger than your measurement at eight months to accommodate extra room once the milk comes in after birth.
What are the things you should look for in terms of practical considerations?
For pregnancy, look for a comfortable bra to wear that has wide side bands and shoulder straps to support growing breast tissue. Shoulder straps should have some cushioning and not stretch. Find a bra with three or more levels of back closures to offer the most flexibility in fit. Make sure to fit the bra on the tightest hook when you buy it – this will allow you to loosen the band as you grow. Bra back extenders are a good option, too. These hook onto your bra and provide extra room.
Make sure the cup gives you the right amount of coverage and depth. If the cup is not large enough for proper coverage, some of the breast tissue may spill out on top and under the arms, resulting in inadequate support.
If you are pregnant during hot summer months, or you find yourself getting hot easily, look into bras made of wicking microfibre to stay cool.
For nursing bras, look for something that provides convenient, easy access and allows the cup to be opened with one hand, which can be helpful when you’re holding your baby and preparing to breastfeed. Fit the nursing bra on the widest hook because after birth, your band size will get smaller.
Some nursing bras these days are padded and underwired like normal underwear. Is it advisable to opt for these kind of styles?
As long as the bra is properly fitted, it will not cause any problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding. That being said, soft cups or wireless bras are usually more comfortable when breasts are at their fullest, so the choice is totally up to you. If you do choose to wear an underwired bra, it is imperative that the wire fits well under and behind the breast tissue.
What to look for when trying on bras
• Cups should fit snugly and smoothly. The fabric should not pucker (cup is too large), or allow overflow (cup is too small – we call that the ‘double-busting’ effect).
• Centre part should lie flat against your skin. Easiest test is to raise your arms: the bra should stay perfectly in place.
• Straps should be just tight enough – not too tight that they leave red marks or indentations and not too loose that you have to keep putting them back in place. A good fact to remember is that straps should only give 20 per cent of the overall support.
• The underband gives 80 per cent of the support, which is why it is so important to be properly fitted into the right size. We’ve seen so many women whose bras ride up their backs (they usually need a smaller band size). When you look at a profile view of yourself in the mirror, the band should form a straight horizontal line all the way around.
• For wearing a nursing bra at night, this is generally recommended if you are breastfeeding, since you can insert breast pads that will soak up any milk or leaks while you’re asleep. We do recommend that these bras are wireless as a wire will move around with you and may poke the delicate breast tissue.