When it comes to finding a nursing and pumping bra that fits, there are many factors to consider. Figuring out what to look for can help make this process smoother.
As all women know, finding a perfectly fitting bra is challenging. Finding a nursing and pumping bra that fits can be quite a journey because new moms experience extreme size changes from pregnancy to postpartum – and even by the hour – with milk supply fluctuations.
Finding an all-in-one bra that fits and meets your needs in this phase of life can make sleepless nights and chaotic days a little bit easier by allowing you to nurse easily and hands-free pump – giving moms the valuable ability to multitask (but only if she wants to).
Let’s look at some of the basics you need to know before you search for a nursing and pumping bra.
What to look for in a nursing and pumping bra
Everyone will have a personal preference regarding style, materials, and other optional features. Still, some important features span all nursing and pumping bra styles you want to remember.
Nursing bra considerations at-a-glance:
- Consider comfort
- Support is essential
- Easy access is key
- Simple care instructions
- Consider design details
- Your pump type matters
1. Consider comfort
This is a time when you don’t want to sacrifice comfort. You will be undergoing constant body changes, sleep will be hard to come by, and while many things will be out of your control, finding a comfortable nursing and pumping bra shouldn’t be one of those things.
Stretchy fabric that can move around the fullest part of your breasts will be the best option. Something sturdy and reinforced is crucial as it must hold up for all-day wear and adjust to accommodate your evolving size, whether drained or engorged.
You’ll also want extra settings in the hook and eye closure to enable a good fit before, during, and after pregnancy as your ribcage grows and shrinks.
2. Support is essential
There are a variety of styles of nursing and pumping bras, depending on the level of extra support that you will need.
If you are sleeping in your bra, you will want to try and find something that isn’t super tight and supports you but doesn’t feel restrictive and doesn’t have too much hardware.
For a bra to wear during the day, you will want a very supportive band and cups that fit as your body and breast size fluctuate and finds their new normal. Adjustable straps, padding, and underwire can also be very helpful in this department.
3. Easy access is key
Whether you are looking for a nursing bra with a clasp or pull-down openings or need a pumping bra that easily fits your pump, you want to be able to get to your breasts when you are ready for a pumping/nursing session.
The last thing you want to do is to have to fight your bra when your baby is ready to nurse.
4. Simple care instructions
Finding a nursing and pumping bra that is easy to clean and care for will be a huge help when you are in the middle of those early months and need one less thing to worry about and keep track of.
Elastic is very sensitive to heat, so you’ll want to wash your delicate bras in cold water and always use a lingerie bag to avoid snags and pulling off the straps.
5. Consider design details
Just because someone is nursing does not mean they should not have beautiful, well-designed undergarments. Many struggle with their new postpartum bodies.
A pretty, lacy bra can make a big difference and improve a new mom’s mood and confidence. Find something lacy or a bra with matching panties for a sexy-looking set.
Read next: Steps for Understanding and Accepting Your Postpartum Body
6. Your pump type matters
Based on your lifestyle, you may want to consider what type of pump you use with your bra.
There are many options, such as double electric pumps with flanges and bottles, in-bra pumps with a motor and milk collection unit, and even milk catchers that rest in your bra to capture your milk while you nurse on another side.
Many women use multiple types of pumps, so a bra that can support any pump is ideal. Not every bra is designed to accommodate the girth of in-bra pumps (like the Willow), so adjustability is key.
When to shop for a nursing and pumping bra
Now that you know what to look for in your new bra, let’s discuss the best time to shop for your new intimates. Many women prefer to have at least three nursing and pumping bras.
- One to have on
- One to have in the wash
- One to have in the drawer, ready when needed
It will be tempting to want to order and have these on hand as soon as your baby is born; however, except in special circumstances, it is not recommended to pump for the first few weeks of a baby’s life, when the goal is to establish consistent nursing from the breast.
Of course, some moms prefer or need to pump, which is perfectly acceptable.
Either way, it can take your body a few weeks to adjust from pregnancy, so you will notice that your band can shrink and your cup expands with your milk supply.
To get the most support and accurate sizing, it is recommended to order your bras about three weeks postpartum, once your body has undergone most of the drastic changes and your milk supply has become established and regulated.
If you want to have at least one on hand before delivery, you can take a guess that you’ll end up approximately one size bigger in the band and two sizes bigger in the cup.
Keep in mind this is an estimate, and each person is different.
Getting the best fit from your nursing and pumping bra
Finding the perfect fit for your nursing and pumping bra will make it the most helpful and effective during your postpartum journey.
It’s important to remember that not all brands or styles will run the same, so just because you have taken your measurements based on one sizing chart, it could be different for the next site or brand.
At The Dairy Fairy’s website, we offer guides on How To Size and How to Choose, plus we provide visuals of Models in Your Size to help you along the journey.
We know this can be overwhelming, and we want to make sure that you feel confident in deciding what bras will work best for you and find the right size.
Remember that bra sizing is not standardized, and you can’t rely on your worn-out, stretched bra from two years ago.
To get the most accurate measurements, you will want to gather
- Soft measuring tape
- Pen and paper
The soft tape measure helps you to get the most accurate measurements as it can move around your body to ensure you get the right fit.
Standing in front of a mirror helps you see when you wrap the tape around your back to ensure that it goes completely parallel across your back and not scrunching up, which will give you an inaccurate measurement of your band size.
The pen and paper are to keep everything written down so that you aren’t trying to keep track of numbers in your head because nobody has time for that when you are either towards the end of pregnancy or early postpartum.
If you can, try a few different sizes and bra options to see what feels the best. You will also want to move around when trying on your bra.
Move your arms above your head, and try sitting, standing, and laying down.
You will want to make sure it is a comfortable fit without the side of your breast slipping throughout all of the movements you might be doing throughout the day.
A comfortable bra is a game changer for many women to get through breastfeeding.
The best nursing bra is the one that gives you a comfortable yet snug fit, has a back band that sits flat across your back, and that gives you great support.
Whether you’re a larger size or just want an extra lift, find the correct bra size to fit your true shape that works well with your wearable pumps or meets your nursing needs, and many can help you with both.
We hope you found this information helpful and encourage you to check out one of our other blog articles on Understanding the Size and Fit Struggle of Pumping and Nursing Bras
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I always dreamt of having a child but getting pregnant didn’t come easily. With the help of a donor, IVF and years of wishing and hoping, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in February 2012. Having my daughter, Arden Rose, made me realize two things: Being a mom is incredible. But, trying to manage the many moving parts of work, life, taking care of a baby, and staying centered in the midst of beautiful chaos – is hard. Breastfeeding and pumping were my focus in her first year of life – but the logistics and commitment of constantly changing into and out of ugly bras frustrated me. But there was no other way. So, I made it my mission to create one. I felt like I could make a difference. And The Dairy Fairy offered an approach that’s a lot more real and relatable for moms. My priority seemed simple: Make one elegant garment designed for nursing and handsfree pumping, ensuring comfort and fit - that didn’t resemble a medieval contraption. After months and a successful kickstarter campaign, the Arden – our signature bra – became one of the FIRST and best selling breastfeeding and pumping bras on the market. I like to say I gave birth to two babies, all by myself, in one year! Since, it has been TEN incredible years of pioneering ingenious intimates. Starting with one all-in-one style, to now a whole collection of over 10 options for different needs, sizes and budgets. My mission is to be the nursing mother’s first choice in beautiful intimates that do it all and to support all moms, regardless of how or where they feed their babes. With extended sizing and features that answer to any type of nursing or pumping, our collection can truly support moms and their breasts.