Your special time requires special lingerie

During pregnancy, your breasts undergo numerous changes. They are enlarging and becoming heavier and more sensitive. Especially for late pregnancy, choosing a bra that provides proper support can help you feel more comfortable and less fatigued.

Maternity Bras vs. Nursing Bras

Though these terms are often used interchangeably, a maternity bra is very different from a nursing bra. A maternity bra (or pre-natal bra), worn during your pregnancy, is designed to be stretchy and extra-supportive to accommodate your growing breasts. Many times, they also have four columns of hook adjustments rather than the traditional three. Maternity bras are also worn after pregnancy by women who do not breastfeed.

Maternity Bra FAQs

During pregnancy, each breast becomes 10 to 18 ounces heavier due to increased fluid and mammary gland growth. This puts the surrounding skin and tissue under considerable strain, and without proper bra support, your breasts could become deformed and you may experience significant tension in the neck and shoulders. Most normal bras simply aren't designed with these issues in mind.
There is no standard answer to how much your breast size will change, but most women can expect to increase at least one band size and about three cup sizes. Some women change in size drastically and require several different bra sizes throughout their pregnancy, other women change very little until the baby arrives and milk production begins. The best way to estimate is to ask your mother what her breasts did during her pregnancy. Immediately after the birth, you can expect a surge in your breast size as they begin to fill with milk. After two weeks of nursing, your breasts should re-stabilize to a cup size close to what they were during your pregnancy.
It is recommended that you have at least three maternity bras so that you can wear a fresh one every day. One to wear, one to launder, and one as a spare.
Any one of the techniques we recommend in our Lingerie FAQ section will work for your maternity bras, but you must take extra care in making sure your breasts are placed correctly into the bra. Your body should be bent over while doing this to allow the breasts to fill into the cups naturally.
The right time is as soon as your breasts begin to swell and your existing bras are no longer comfortable, usually around the fourth month. Maternity bras are made to fit comfortably on the first (tightest) hook early in your pregnancy and adjust to the final (loosest) hook by your last trimester. It is not unusual to need a whole new size bra towards the end; most women increase at least one band size and about three cup sizes.
Once you feel you are ready for a maternity bra, identify your most comfortable regular bra and measure yourself as described in our How To Measure Bra Size section.
As with nursing bras, a properly fitted underwire nursing bra should not cause problems during pregnancy and can actually make you feel more supported and secure than a soft cup (wireless) bra. You may find that soft cups are more comfortable when sleeping, and when your breasts are at their fullest, usually during the last months of pregnancy.
Keeping in mind that you will be wearing it for several months during and after your pregnancy, these are the key things to look for in a good maternity bra:

  • Wide shoulder straps and taller side panels to provide comfort and extra support for growing breast tissue. Straps should also have minimal stretch and some cushioning.
  • Three or more back closures to offer the most flexibility in fit.
  • Cups large enough to give you adequate coverage with no spillage of breast tissue, and made of stretchy material to allow for growth and comfort.
  • Regarding fit, the band should lie under the breasts and flat against the rib cage, not creeping up on the breast tissue. Prolonged pressure on the breast tissue could lead to a plugged duct and ultimately mastitis or infection.
  • For women who get hot easily or will be pregnant during the summer, look for bras made of cotton or wicking microfiber.