In a world that is focused on health and well being our main focus during pregnancy tends to be about our fitness and the food that we eat. Sometimes, we forget about the importance of the clothing that we wear.
During pregnancy our bodies go through an enormous amount of change and stress. Our breasts go through substantial change during and after our pregnancy. They increase dramatically in size over a short period of time as they prepare to produce milk to feed our children.
Larger breasts mean heavier breasts and during this time it is more important than ever to maintain good breast health. Supporting your breasts during and after pregnancy is important for your comfort and for maintaining good breast health.
Types Of Bras:
The bras we wear before pregnancy are not suitable to wear during pregnancy or nursing.
Regular bras are designed for support and usually have a heavy gauge wire that is ridged and can at times be uncomfortable after a long day.
Regular bras often contain lace that sits directly on the breast tissue. Laces are made from synthetic materials and can be itchy. Although these bras can be designed to look pretty and provide support to heavier breasts, they are not designed to support the changing nature of your breasts during pregnancy, post-partum and while nursing.
Maternity Bras/Nursing Bras:
There are many differences in the design of maternity/nursing bras compared to regular bras.
Maternity and nursing bras are designed to contain and support breast tissue that is fluctuating in size. The fabrics selected for these bras are more flexible and have more give, especially in the top cup. This allows for movement as the breast increases in size during pregnancy, post-partum and nursing as the breasts fill and empty several times per day.
The shape of maternity and nursing bras are different as well. They cover a larger surface area of the breast which provides greater support, security and comfort.
The materials used for maternity/ nursing bras are generally much stronger because of the reinforced straps and double lined back band. These extra features make a comfortable, strong and durable bra.
Some maternity and nursing bras contain wires. These wires are known as flexible wires and are soft and malleable. They are less rigid and tend to move and flex with your body, giving you that desired rounded shape that you get with your normal bras.
Most maternity and nursing bras offer drop down cups. A drop down cup is attached with a feeding clip that can be easily detached for easy access to the breast for nursing.
A quality maternity/ nursing bra will have an A frame sling inside or a side sling support. This provides discretion while feeding and increases the level of support from the bra.
Maternity bras should be purchased early in your pregnancy. At approximately 6 weeks of pregnancy most women notice a tightening and increase in their breast size.
Visit Cheeky Monkey or your local boutique with a bra fitting specialist to be measured and properly fitted. You will find that even this early in your pregnancy, your regular bras will no longer fit correctly or comfortably.
- A maternity bra should fit comfortably and cover your breasts sufficiently. The breast should not be bulging out the top, side or bottom of the cups.
- If the bra contains a flexible wire, make sure the wire sits neatly around the side of your breast. It should not dig into the breast tissue anywhere.
- Fit the back band to the tighter hook and eye adjustments. This way you have plenty of room for expansion as your rib cage continues to grow during your pregnancy.
- The cups should fit smoothly against the breast and there should be no wrinkles.
- The back band should sit horizontally across your back. It should not ride up your back or fit too tightly.
- The straps should sit comfortably on your shoulders. They should not dig in or strain on your shoulders.
In order to properly support your growing breasts, it’s important to purchase a bra that fits properly during every stage of your pregnancy. Your breasts will not be properly supported if you purchase a bra that is too large in the cup thinking you will “grow into it”.
Bras For Different Stages:
Seamless bras are ideal for periods when you are experiencing a lot of growth or fluctuation in the breasts. For example, you will experience a lot of breast size fluctuation during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy and the first 8 weeks post-partum when you begin to breastfeed.
The beauty of a seamless bra is the simple sizing: XS-XXL. Seamless bras are not cup specific and will fit a range of cup and band sizes, providing you with flexibility as your breast shape and size changes.
Ask a Cheeky Monkey bra fitting specialist to help you or read the size chart to determine which bra size is best for you. The correct bra size will provide you with a proper under-band support and the cups should stretch and grow with your changing body without restriction.
TIP: Seamless bras should be extremely comfortable and can be worn both during the day and during sleep.
Cup Sized Bras:
Cup sized bras come in many different styles such as: contour bras, flexible wire, non-wired, sports, spacer, soft cup, fashion, t-shirt, plunge and fuller bust.
When selecting your bras consider your lifestyle and the type of bras that you will get the most use out of.
A cup sized bra should only be worn once your breast growth has stabilized at approximately 3 months of pregnancy and/or 8 weeks postpartum. Trying to wear a cup size bra during periods of rapid growth and fluctuation will be restrictive, uncomfortable and potentially harmful to your body for example, increasing the risk of mastitis.
Mastitis is a condition some women get early on in their breastfeeding journey. It is sometimes caused by compression and a poor fitting bra.
Things To Remember:
Look after your breasts, they will change in size and shape throughout your lifetime. Change can occur with weight fluctuation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and with aging. Should your bras start to feel uncomfortable, it’s time to get professionally fitted again and to replace those old bras.
Invest in quality products and avoid the temptation to purchase cheaper bras. These bras are often made from lesser materials and may not provide you with a good supportive fit that is necessary to help avoid premature ligament damage, tenderness and or mastitis.
Visit Cheeky Monkey or your local bra specialist to be properly fitted for your maternity and/or nursing bra. Try to avoid purchasing online because it can be hard to determine your correct size and get the proper fit.
Replace your bras frequently to ensure that your breasts are supported properly and you are comfortable. A good bra will last approximately 6 months if worn frequently. Eventually, the elastics and fabrics will start to give and to stretch out. Once this happens your bra is no longer providing you with the necessary support you need and it is time to purchase new bras.
If the bra does not feel comfortable when you try it on, don’t purchase it because you will probably never wear it.
Get professional help, purchase a good bra and then forget about it – enjoy the comfort!
- Tracey Montford, Cake Maternity