Some people claim that wearing a nursing bra will help support your breasts so that they won’t stretch and sag. Although this may sound reasonable, there is no evidence to show that a nursing bra will prevent droopy breasts. So, if you buy a nursing bra, do so with the knowledge that it will not necessarily help you retain your pre-pregnancy shape. More importantly is the fact that a nursing bra will allow you to breastfeed your baby in a discrete and manageable manner. [Photo: Anita 5064 Nursing Bra from amazon.com ]
Do you really need a nursing bra? You don’t need a nursing bra but I suggest that you get one anyway and here’s the reason why. Your breast will increase in size as you progress in pregnancy and especially when your milk comes in. You’re going to need to buy a new bra anyway, so you might as well buy one that you can use during breastfeeding.
There are a variety of nursing bras and the ones you see will depend on where you shop. Large department stores will have some nursing bras but they tend to look somewhat utilitarian and old fashion. Large department stores cannot keep up with the current trends and will most likely carry a basic collection.
Shopping online is nice because you can see a variety of styles. Good web sites will list the features of each bra so that you can be informed before you buy. Browsing online is far easier than tracking down a sales clerk who may not know much about nursing bras anyway. If you choose to buy a nursing bra online, be sure to follow the guidelines as to how to measure your size. As well, read the return policy to see how you may return the bra if it doesn’t fit.
If you have a maternity specialty shop near you, this is your best shopping option. The staff there is knowledgeable and can tell you the pros and cons of each bra. You can try the bra before buying and it’s fast: you don’t have to wait for shipping.
We suggest buying 2 nursing bras (3 would be better) so that you always have a clean one ready to use. If your bra gets wet with leaked milk, it is advisable to change & wash it instead of waiting for it to air dry. Breast milk is nutritious and will cause bacteria to grow – this in turn may cause a breast infection (mastitis).
There are two basic types of nursing bras: ones with snaps and ones without.
Bras with No Snaps
These bras are best for women with small to medium sized breasts. The bra is made of a soft flexible fabric such that you can push the bra to the side and expose the breast for breastfeeding.
This type of bra is most affordable (less than $20) and can be quite comfortable. Some women choose to sleep wearing this type of bra. However, this type of bra does not provide a huge amount of support. Thus, women with large breasts should try nursing bras that have snaps. See more nursing bras here.
Bras with Snaps and Flaps
Here, the bra is made like a support structure (or framework) and there are flaps where the cups would be. When the flaps are unsnapped, the breast is exposed for breastfeeding but the bra’s framework is still there to support you. When the flaps are snapped closed, the bra looks like a regular bra.
The snaps can be located up near the shoulder or in the middle of the chest in between the two cups. Some nursing bras will have Velcro snaps. Some women find the Velcro much easier to manage than snaps, but velco tends to wear out after a few cycles in the washing machine. If possible, try the different types of snaps and see which one is easy to open & close. See more nursing bras here.
Bras with snaps and flaps have better support but they are also more expensive (over $40). Some have an underwire to give even more support. If you chose a nursing bra with an underwire, be sure that the wire does not pinch your breast and disrupt milk flow. Pinching and restriction of the breast will cause blocked milk ducts which, in turn, may cause breast infections.
For small and medium sized breast women, a basic nursing bra is fine. But for women with large breasts, there are other features to consider.
- Wide and/or Padded Straps. Breasts filled with milk can get very heavy so some manufacturers have designed bras with wide shoulder straps or padded straps. These help distribute the weight so you won’t get welts across your shoulders due to the weight of your breasts.
- Hooks. Some nursing bras will have 3 or more sets of hooks on the back strap. If you choose a bra that fits using the middle set of hooks, then you can loosen or tighten the bra strap as your breast size changes.
- Bra getting to tight? Don’t worry, you can always buy bra extenders. These are strips of fabric with hooks and eyes sewn into them. So you don’t need to buy a whole new bra, just buy the extenders for about $5 or less.
- Colors and Patterns: Although colors and patterns do not affect the functionality of a nursing bra, many women choose colorful bras. Some come in floral or animal prints and some come with lace, satin or bows. If you are going to buy a nursing bra, why not buy one that’s got a splash of spice?
Read about other breastfeeding tools:
- Nursing Clothing
- Nursing Pillow (Boppy)
- Good Breastfeeding Books
- Breast Pads and Breast Shields
- Lanolin Cream
- Slings and Baby Carriers
- Bassinets and Bedside Cribs
- Rocking Chairs and Gliders
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