One thing that you can pretty much guarantee during pregnancy, is that the size and shape of your breasts is going to chance significantly, particularly as you reach the third trimester. From those early pregnancy tell tale signs of tender breasts and sensitive nipples, to your body preparing for the onset of breastmilk, it’s fair to say that your existing underwear is unlikely to stay comfortable for long, especially as your due date fast approaches.
Whilst I will always say that you don’t need to invest in an expensive maternity wardrobe (you can easily buy non maternity clothing that adapts to your pregnancy shape and beyond), a comfortable maternity bra is pretty much a pregnancy essential.
So, what do you need to think about when finding the perfect maternity bra?
When to buy your maternity bra
First of all – it is worth noting that you shouldn’t buy your maternity bras too early, as your breast size and shape is likely to continue to change in those last few weeks of pregnancy. Buy towards the end of your pregnancy (from around 34 weeks onwards) or earlier if your current bras are causing you discomfort.
Once your baby is born, you may wish to switch to nursing bras, which offer convenient easy access for feeds. Cluster feeding is likely to be a pretty common occurrence with a newborn, and the last thing you need is to be battling to gain access whilst your baby’s crying gets increasingly louder!
What is special about a maternity bra?
Whilst there is nothing to say that you can’t stay in a traditional bra during the late stages of pregnancy, you may find that elements such as underwire and/or boosted support may become uncomfortable and dig in as your breasts start to grow and chance shape. Your cup sizes can also change pretty rapidly (as many as 2-3 cup sizes more than your original!) meaning that your normal bras may quite quickly become too small.
Unlike traditional bras, maternity bras are made from flexible materials which can adapt and accommodate the changes your breasts might experience throughout your pregnancy (or even throughout each day!)
A good quality maternity bra will have multiple hook and eye fastenings for different levels of support and allow you to easily adjust or loosen the tightness as required.
Maternity bras also offer more support, with fuller cups, a deeper center and wider straps and are made from breathable fabric such as cotton. This can help keep your body temperature under control, helping keep your skin cool and allow it to breathe more easily.
This additional coverage can also stop the feelings of sensitivity you may experience in a traditional bra.
Why should I change to a nursing bra when my baby is born?
When your baby is born, you may also want to move on to some nursing bras to make breastfeeding a little more straightforward. Unlike maternity bras, nursing bras have drop clips and retainer straps, with the option to open and close the cups with one hand. This means you can easily unclip and gain access to your breast as required whilst still holding your baby – a real help when you are feeding on the go with a fraught and hungry newborn!
What else should I bear in mind when choosing my maternity and nursing bras?
For me personally, one thing I didn’t fully take into account was the thickness of the materials. I opted for some very lightweight maternity and nursing bras, being attracted to their feminine and sheer designs. However, it is worth remembering that you area likely to want to wear breast pads when you start feeding, and that these of course may be visible through thinner materials and lighter colors. For that reason, I would consider slightly thicker and darker shades, particularly for your nursing bras.
Finally, you may also want to consider a soft cup nursing bra to wear whilst you sleep. Whilst you may not normally wear underwear at night, sleep bras help keep pads in place during the night) and are generally very comfortable!
Did you find the perfect maternity bra? Tell us about it!