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BRAVADO DESIGNS: The Ultimate Nursing Bra Guide

Buying any bra can be challenging, but buying a maternity and nursing bra given all the changes that come with pregnancy and breastfeeding, can seem downright confusing. That’s why Bravado Designs is here to help answer a few important questions, such as:

  • How many nursing bras do you need?
  • What to look for in a great nursing bra
  • How to fit a nursing bra
  • What’s the right nursing bra for my stage in pregnancy?
  • How to care for your nursing bra

Why a nursing bra?

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, your body goes through a lot of changes that can make your regular bra feel uncomfortable. Nursing bras take these changes into consideration by offering soft and stretchy fabrics that fluctuate with your body. A good nursing bra is key to a much more seamless breastfeeding routine.

How many nursing bras do you need?

Most moms start their maternity and nursing wardrobe with three bras: one to wear, one to wash and one to have (in the drawer). With all those feedings (and hormones!), we know that most moms have, on average, 7 nursing bras, tanks and camis on rotation to help reduce laundry loads and increase time with baby.

What to look for in a great nursing bra:

  • Luxuriously soft and seamless fabric for added comfort
  • 4-way stretch fabric that molds to your changing shape
  • Easy open and close clips
  • Full drop-away bra cups for skin-to-skin contact

How to fit a nursing bra

What you need

  • Have a measuring tape, pen and paper ready to jot down your measurements
  • Make sure you have a mirror handy so you can make sure you’re measuring correctly
  • Wear a non-padded bra that reflects your true shape so you’ll be as true to size as possible
  • Now get ready to measure – you’ll need to determine 2 things: your rib band and your cup size

Rib Band Measurement

To begin: Measure your chest (we know this seems odd, but it works!). Place the measuring tape around your back and under your armpits. Check in the mirror to ensure the measuring tape is parallel to the floor along your back as well as along your breasts. The measuring tape should be placed above your breast tissue and snug around your body – making sure that you don’t have any fingers underneath the tape. If you are in between sizes, make sure to round up or down to the nearest even number. And voila – this will be your rib band size (34, 36 etc.)!

Chest Measurement

Measure around the fullest part of your breasts, over your nipple area. This is a looser measurement than the rib band measurement. Hold the end of the measuring tape at the side of your breast, and while holding both ends of the tape with one hand, use your free hand to press the measuring tape in between your breasts to your chest (this will provide a more accurate cup size measurement). From there, subtract the rib band measurement from the cup size measurement. Now, each number or inch represents one letter. For example, if your rib band is 34 and your cup measurement is 38; 38-34 = 4, 4 equates to a D (2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=DD(E), 6=DDD(F)…). So that means you are a D cup and your nursing bra size is a 34D.

What’s the right nursing bra for my stage in pregnancy?

First Trimester

When you’re in the newly pregnant stage, your breasts are often tender and subtly—or dramatically—fuller, and probably the only part of you that looks pregnant. While every woman’s body changes at a different rate, if your current bras aren’t comfortable anymore, consider getting a stretchier bra at this point that will grow with you throughout your pregnancy.

Our Recommendation: Our Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra offers stretch and support to make your days that much more comfortable. This bra is guaranteed to become your favorite and take you right through your nursing journey!

Second Trimester

In your second trimester, your breasts continue to grow (thanks to increased blood flow and expanding milk glands), and you’ll most likely be craving more support than your regular bras can offer.

Our Recommendation: For moms who are still hitting tree pose, we have a low-impact active bra that’s comfy enough to wear as your everyday bra. With convertible criss-cross straps, a soft, seamless construction, and a sporty heather look, this is the perfect choice to take you from yoga mat to play mat!

Third Trimester

Because your rib cage has expanded to accommodate your baby, your rib band could be one size larger than it will be after you deliver. Your cup size has increased one-to-two sizes from pre-pregnancy, and could go up one more size (really!) in the first days after your baby is born. Bottom line: buy nursing bras where the band fits comfortably on the loosest setting, so you can tighten it after your baby is born, and with stretchy cups that can handle the changes in breast size.

Our Recommendation: To round out your nursing bra wardrobe, consider transitional pieces like our Body Silk Seamless Nursing Cami that you can wear during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The knitted-in nursing bra and luxuriously soft fabric will stretch and grow with you, plus its length makes it versatile to wear under a cardigan or layer under a sweater.

Initiating Breastfeeding

Your changing body has one big finale: your milk comes in during the first few days after giving birth. This can be when your breasts are at their largest, usually one cup size up from your third trimester. Other changes include a higher body temperature and tender nipples, so for breathability and comfort, opt for cotton bras with flexible cups. Most moms feel more comfortable sleeping with a bra at this stage so be prepared with a comfortable and well-fitting bra for sleep and every day.

Our Recommendation: Our new Ballet Nursing Bra combines Petal-Soft™ fabric (our softest yet!) and no back closures for maximum comfort during this time.

Your New Routine

After you and your baby get used to breastfeeding, your breasts will adjust too, going down one cup size from when you were nursing a newborn. You will likely tighten your bra band as your rib cage decreases in size as well.

After breastfeeding has been established, around 6-8 weeks, you can choose whatever bra you prefer, including a professionally fitted underwire nursing bra.

Our Recommendation: Once you’ve established a new breastfeeding routine, its time to make sure you have a bra that supports you and makes you feel most comfortable. Our new Buttercup Nursing Bra looks just like a ‘regular bra’ with the key features that every nursing mom needs – drop-away cups so that the baby has skin-to-skin contact and an easy one-handed clip for breast access!

How to care for a nursing bra

  • To prevent twisting and tangling, close all hooks and clasps before you wash your nursing bra.
  • Wash with like colors —for example, beige with whites and black with darks— to keep the colours true.
  • Hand-wash or machine? Our recommendation is that you always hand wash your bras in cold water. If, however, you are using the washing machine, make sure to place the garment in a lingerie bag. To reduce fading and shrinkage, choose the delicate cycle and cold water.
  • To dry, hang it with the cups reshaped and the back hooked up. Dryer heat may damage the stretch.
  • Avoid bleach as it causes the fabric to lose its stretch. If you can’t get away from using it, choose non-chlorine bleach.
  • Last but not least: don’t iron your nursing bra! The heat damages the elastic and changes the fit.

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