Having a nursing bra that supports you, makes pumping or nursing easy, and is comfortable is key. When do you need to buy a nursing bra, and what should you look for?
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When to shop for a nursing bra
Finding the right fit is important, so you don’t want to buy your bras too early. Your breasts may grow throughout your pregnancy, and they will likely change after your baby is born and your milk comes in.
In general, it makes the most sense to buy your first nursing bras in the third trimester, before your baby arrives.
After you have your baby, your breast size may fluctuate when your milk comes in or after your milk supply is established. You may want to measure yourself or get fitted again if:
- Your nursing bras have become uncomfortable
- You keep getting clogged ducts in the same spot on one of your breasts
- You need to buy additional nursing bras
How many nursing bras do I need?
You won’t want to have just one.
When your milk comes in, you’ll likely experience your breasts leaking, and you may want to change out your bra when that happens.
When it comes to how many nursing bras you should have, the recommendation is three:
- One to wear
- One to wash
- One spare
Another thing to consider is that there are different types of nursing bras. In addition to your everyday, “regular” nursing bra, you may want to get the following, based on your situation:
- A sleeping bra
- Nursing sports bras, if you like to work out
- Bras that allow you to pump hands-free
Types of Nursing Bras
What to look for in a nursing bra
A nursing bra is designed to make breastfeeding easier by allowing you easy access when it’s time to nurse or pump. It should also be comfortable and supportive.
In addition to thinking about the type of nursing bra that you might need (everyday, sports, sleep, etc.), getting the right fit is important.
Things to look for in fit include:
- Cups that fit correctly, covering your breasts completely and without gapping.
- Cups with clips that easily open make feeding go smoother. You may want to test the clips to make sure you can open and close them with one hand.
- Most nursing bras don’t have an underwire, but if yours does, the underwire should lay flat against your breasts, under your chest.
- The center between the cups should lie flat against your chest.
How to shop for nursing bras
One option is to go to a maternity store that offers fittings and get professionally sized.
You can also shop online. Many retailers offer detailed instructions for measuring yourself, or fit styling guides/quizzes to help you.
You can see some of our favorites here!
What if you are on the bustier side?
Because many nursing bras are sized S/M/L/XL rather than using band and cups sizes, it can sometimes be more difficult for women with larger breasts to find nursing bras that are correctly sized for them.
One option that a lot of bustier women in our Facebook group seem to like is Kindred Bravely bras – they offer special busty sizes for cup sizes DD/E and up.
Saving money on nursing bras
Buying a lot of bras can be expensive, especially when you’re only going to be using them for about a year.
In addition to other breastfeeding medical supplies, some combination nursing and pumping bras are eligible for FSA or HSA reimbursement, which can help you save money on this expense.
I hope that helps give you a good idea of when to buy a nursing bra and what to look for! If you’ve bought a nursing bra, feel free to share your experience in the comments!
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