Nursing bras are one of those essential things you just have to have if you’re planning to breastfeed. There are a lot of unnecessary baby products floating around, nursing bras are not one of them. Here’s how to choose the right one.

The cool thing about nursing bras is that they give super quick and easy access to the milk machines. And believe me, at least once a day you’ll need to whip them out faster than quick to avoid a baby roar. And we want to avoid the baby roar.

The first patented nursing bra was produced in 1943 as an answer to the post-war baby boom of World War 2. Nothing revolutionary really happened with the design for a long time. But today you’ll find softcup, underwire, seamless, lounging styles, sports bras, padded, built-ins, tank tops, shirts, clips, clasps, squeeze, hooks and everything in between. Typically they all have some kind of flap that is attached and can be folded down.

6 steps to choosing your nursing bra

  1. Comfort & fit – If the nursing bras are too tight it can cause your milk ducts to get blocked and infected. This is very very painful so do your best to avoid it.
  2. Support – If the bra supports the breast from beneath even when it’s open it’ll make the breastfeeding a lot easier.
  3. Functionality – You want to be able to open and close the flaps with one hand. You’ll need the other hand to hold the baby.
  4. Design – Even if you think underwires are more comfortable and makes your boobs look better, try not use them too often. They can block the ducts in the milk-producing tissue over your ribs and up into the armpit.
  5. Fabric – Breathable fabric is a must. Unless you feel like battling bacterias, soreness and fungal infections. Go for cotton or synthetics that is breathable. Try not to wear a bra at night (put a towel underneath you in bed) as your breasts and nipples need to breath as much as possible.
  6. Price – Make sure you know your size before spending a lot of money. At around two weeks after birth your breasts will have adjusted the milk production and settled in size. You’ll need at least three in the end; one to wear, one to wash and one ready in the drawer. Don’t wear each for more than a day or two due to bacterial growth.

Which size to choose

The easiest way to get the right size is to ask for professional help in a store. Most places are happy to help and it won’t cost you anything.

Fitting guidelines

The fitting test – Sit down and stand up while wearing the bra. If there’s no discomfort like pinching straps, bunching or sliding your right on track.

Try to find a bra that fits when you use the middle row of hooks in the back. That way there’s room to grow and to slim down.

If you have large breasts make sure your nursing bra has extra support.

How to measure

Band size – Measure around your back, under the armpits but above your breasts.

Cup size – Measure around your back, under the armpits and around the center of the breast. Be sure to measure at the fullest part. Subtract band size from breast size to get the cup size.

Example – Band size 36, breast size 38 = 2 inches cup size. Each inch corresponds to a letter, A, B, C, D and so forth. In this example we have the size 36B. Choose the bigger one if you end up in between two sizes.

If you want to know even more about measuring check out Cake Maternity’s Fitting room

Different types of bras

  • Comfort bras – Seamless bras in stretchy materials with snap or clasp openings. Usually available in the more flexible sizes small, medium, large, and so on.
  • Sleep bras – Elastic criss-crossed bras with “pull aside” function (you just pull the cup over the breast to the outside). They don’t offer much support and, as the name suggests, are mainly designed for night time or relaxing at home.
  • Sports bras – Provides good support in breathable materials. You can find both clasp openings and pull-aside bras.
  • Underwire and non-wire bras – Almost like your regular bra except for the clasp/snap function. They come with and without padding.
  • Nursing tanks – The nursing tank is like a regular tank with a built-in comfort bra. You can wear a bra under it but it works fine on its own. I don’t think it offers enough support for outside wear but it’s perfect at home as you don’t need to take of/put on your sweater every time your breastfeed.

The best maternity nursing bras

There are tons of great brands and styles out there but if you don’t know where to look it might feel daunting and exhausting. Don’t worry. I got your back. I’ve searched through the internet to find the best ones. Find the top rated nursing bras for sports, sleeping, pumping and everyday wear. Oh, and for when you’re ready to feel a little sexy again. Intrigued? Skip to “Maternity nursing bras“.

How to choose the right nursing bras

If you’ve been skimming the text here’s what you need to know. Don’t buy more than one nursing bra before 2 weeks after giving birth when your boob size has settled. Make sure you find bras that are comfortable, gives easy access, are made of breathable materials and not too tight.