Oh, Baby! Shopping for Maternity Bras

We talked a little bit about choosing a bra that matches your life on our YouTube channel last week: it’s okay if your size fluctuates a little or a lot over the course of events. You’re human! By far the most-asked “my body changed, now what?” question we get at Underpinnings is about not just your humanity, but growing a second (or third, or fourth) human. Overnight, the shape you’ve known yourself to be changes, and all your go-to clothes are out the window, including underwear. A lot of pregnant and nursing clients come into our store wide-eyed, stammering, and a little lost. “How do I, um?” is a common refrain.

This is a maternity bra. No, really.

This is a maternity bra. No, really.

There are nursing bras and there are maternity bras, and you’re going to need both. Maternity bras are for when you’re pregnant, nursing bras are for….nursing. For your first trimester, your normal bra may fit just fine, but for most people, the first and second trimesters tend to be a time of size flux. We recommend a stretchy bralette or compressive tank top if you can swing it. If you need more support, come in and get fit for two or three stop-gap bras in a non-molded style.

By your third trimester through the arrival of the baby, your cup size and back size will likely be significantly larger than they were pre-pregnancy. It’s hard to predict exactly how much bigger you’ll be, even if you’ve had a baby before. Get a seamless bra that you find comfy and breathable; something too tight or too structured can cause mastitis or disrupt your body’s natural ability to regulate milk production.

The first few weeks after birth are kind of a free-for-all, and your breasts are included in that assessment. When your milk supply comes in and your nursing schedule becomes more routinized, you’ll be a little up and down, so just stick with that third-trimester piece as you recover. For most people who choose to breastfeed, you’ll settle into a rhythm around four weeks post-partum. If you’re feeling up to it, come in for a fitting then so we can get you something that fits your body during nursing (though any time after that is great, too!). We recommend a cup clip you can undo one-handed, a band with at least three hooks, and a removable underwire. Nursing bras are notoriously hard to fit correctly, so this is definitely a time to get an assist from a pro. You’ve got a lot going on, so let someone else figure out this one thing for you.

So is this. Seriously! It is.

So is this. Seriously! It is.

How many maternity and nursing bras do you need? Well, that depends on a lot. Are you heading straight back to work or do you have a longer leave period? Do you do a lot of high-impact exercise? Are you planning to nurse for a long time? How good are you about staying on top of laundry? In general, we recommend three, so you can wear one, wash one, and dry one all at the same time. In any event, invest in something you think is beautiful and fits you well. There’s no reason to torture yourself with ugly pieces you dread, especially if you’re planning to nurse or pump longer than a few months. Life is too short to wear a tattered tan rag and call it a bra.

 

Odds are, when you’re finished breastfeeding, your body won’t be identical to the one you had before, which is normal and natural. If your old bras fit perfectly, great! Buy a lottery ticket; you’re very lucky. If not, welcome to the 99.99% of people we see in our shop. We ask that you wait about six weeks after you’re totally, totally done nursing so your hormones settle and your size stabilized. Once you’re there, we’ll get you set up with some gorgeous new bras and help you donate the old ones to someone in need.

Kirsten Schofield