FREE POSTAGE on orders over $100 within Australia!
Shop Now. Wear Now. Pay Later with

Bra Fitting Tips for Pregnancy & Beyond

Nothing beats the expert advice that our bra fitters can give you at a Brava store during this precious time in your life. Our bra fitters are all trained in the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and can help you find the right size and style to suit your needs.

However, if you're unable to visit a Brava store the below tips may help you to find the right fit for your changing shape throughout pregnancy and after your baby is born. Brava is with you throughout your many life stages, especially the most important one – becoming a Mum. With the best maternity and nursing bra collection for bigger cups in Australia, you will find one thats perfect for you.

Breast changes

Pregnancy

Your body will change significantly during pregnancy. Your breasts will increase in size (in a short amount of time), and they will feel heavier and more sensitive due to hormonal changes. Your milk ducts are also going through a process of being activated and require unrestricted support to help them function.

0-3 months - Your bust is undergoing the most change during the first trimester, with milk ducts developing and the bust increasing sometimes by 2-3 cup sizes. Your breasts may be very sore and sensitive; so a non-wired, stretchy, seamless maternity bra that is designed to grow with you will provide some relief. When trying on maternity bras during the first trimester the bra must fit well on the tightest hook which allows for the back band to be loosened as your rib cage expands.

3-7 months - During the second and third trimesters your breast growth slows but your rib cage will expand as your baby grows. It's usually during this time you may need to be fitted again especially if the back band is getting too tight! Your breast size should stabilize at around 7 months.

7-9 months - Your bra should be fastened on one of the looser hooks by now. Maternity bras are designed to stretch with your changing shape so ensure there is only enough room in the cup to slip a flat hand in (not a fist). If your maternity bra is fitted too big, it will be unsupportive and uncomfortable. Getting close to the birth you may like to consider a wire free bra for hospital during delivery and for the following few weeks.

Post pregnancy

First 4 weeks - Once your baby is born, your breasts will swell and may become quite hard as your milk comes in. A really comfortable, well-fitted bra is particularly important as mastitis becomes more common. During these weeks we recommend a wirefree maternity bra due to breast fluctuations.

4+ weeks - Your breasts will start to settle down a little now that your milk supply is regulated. You may find that by this stage, you can wear the maternity bras you were fitted in during months 7-9 of pregnancy. At this stage, your bra should be fitted on the loosest hook as you would in an everyday bra.

Now you know about your breast changes, what now?

When do I change to a Maternity Bra?

The right time for you to be fitted into a maternity bra is when your breasts begin to noticeably swell to the point that your existing bras no longer fit or become uncomfortable. This is usually towards the end of the first trimester and about the same time you are busting out of your jeans.

Wire-free Maternity Bras

Many women prefer underwire fashion bras, however they are not recommended during pregnancy or lactation. When breastfeeding, the breasts can fluctuate as milk is produced and removed. Retained fluid in late pregnancy can also cause the breast to swell. A rigid underwire may put pressure on the breast when it is fuller which can lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis and it is for this reason inflexible underwire bras are not recommended. However, there are now nursing bras available that have a flexible plastic support, similar to an underwire, designed to flex and change position with your changing shape and these are less likely to cause problems.

Maternity Bra VS Nursing Bra

In Australia there is no difference between a nursing and a maternity bra, however European women will wear a maternity bra during pregnancy, which is the same as a nursing bra but without the clips.

Why do I need to wear a maternity bra?

Hormonal change during pregnancy can result in rapid fluctuations in your breasts. The skin and tissue are placed under considerable strain. A structured and supportive maternity bra will protect your breasts against ligament damage, it will relieve breast strain, allow for breast growth and give you support and comfort.

Wearing a normal underwire bra during pregnancy can place pressure on your milk ducts resulting in blockages or mastitis (both during and after pregnancy). A maternity bra is designed to cope with rapid change as your body changes.

Maternity bras have multiple rows of hooks and eyes (many more than a normal bra). This design allows room for you to extend the back band as your diaphragm expands during pregnancy, and then allows you to tighten the back band once your baby is born and your rib cage returns to normal. A normal bra usually only offers three hooks and eyes, its unlikely to cater to your growing shape during pregnancy.

Seams and stitching across the nipple area or unlined bras can cause irritation on already sensitive and tender breasts. Most maternity bras have either concealed seams or seams designed carefully to avoid the nipple area and therefore avoid the risk of chafing. Fabrics are carefully selected by maternity lingerie designers to avoid any potential irritation to your skin; most maternity styles feature soft cotton fabric lining.

Wires used in maternity bras are flexible (either a soft plastic or flexible metal underwire, known as flexiwire), and are designed to sit well behind your breast tissue. The Australian Breastfeeding Association has maintained that a well-fitted, flexiwire bra is less likely to cause problems than a normal underwire bra.

What to look for in a maternity bra

There are many types of maternity bras designed to suit different shapes and stages of pregnancy and beyond. It's a personal choice so we recommend that you try on a few to find your preferred style.

Band - Your maternity bra should have wider elastic under your bust for greater support around the diaphragm. Some will have only 3 hook settings, look for 6 hook settings to allow for more growth as its likely a bra with 6 hooks will get you through all pregnancy stages.

Straps - Wide shoulder straps will be more comfortable minimise strain on your back.

Cups - You should be able to slide your hand flat (not your fist) into the upper section of the cup to assess if there is enough room for growth. The lower cup should fit well for support. Although a maternity bra will have your changing needs incorporated into the design, it is important that the one you choose has enough flexibility to allow for breast fluctuations.

Clips - Open and close the clips to drop down the cup to allow for nursing your baby, some are easier to manage than others. Its ideal to be able to do this with one hand while holding your baby with the other.

A-frame or Side sling – A A-frame design provides a triangle around the breast when the cup is dropped down for feeding which offers more coverage and support so tends to be more suitable for larger bust sizes. A side-sling design cradles your bust from the side of the cup during feeding. There is less coverage and side sling maternity bras can be found in most cup styles. They allow more skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby during feeding.

Wire-free Maternity Bras VS Flexiwire

Many women prefer underwire fashion bras, however they are not recommended during pregnancy or lactation. When breastfeeding, the breasts can fluctuate as milk is produced and retained fluid in late pregnancy can also cause the breast to swell. A rigid underwire may put pressure on the breast when it is fuller which can lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis and it is for this reason inflexible underwire bras are not recommended. However, there are now nursing bras available that have a flexible plastic support, similar to an underwire, designed to flex and change position with your changing shape and these are less likely to cause problems.

Seamless, wire-free bras are ideal for the first trimester and immediately following birth as they're ultra-soft and comfortable but can offer enough support without the underwire. Flexiwire bras use a flexible plastic support, similar to an underwire, designed to flex and change position with your changing shape. Perfect for women who prefer to wear underwire bras.

Maternity Bra VS Nursing Bra

In Australia there is no difference between a nursing and a maternity bra, however European women will wear a maternity bra during pregnancy, which is the same as a nursing bra but without the clips.

How many maternity bras do I need?

We recommend you have three maternity bras in rotation. That’s one to wear, one in the wash and one ready to wear. Your breasts may leak milk so they will need to be washed more often.

Can I sleep in a bra?

If you feel more comfortable sleeping in a maternity bra, the Cake Cotton Candy Seamless Bra and the Bravado Nursing Tank are great options – both are supportive, easy to drop down for feeding, and you can easily slip in nursing pads. We do not recommend sleeping in an underwired or flexiwire bra.

Bra Care

Maternity bras should be hand-washed in mild soap, they do not require soaking in bleach or nappy treatment solutions - this will weaken the fabric and may cause skin irritation. Look after your bras and they should last throughout your pregnancy and for several months afterwards.

Our bra fitting tips

  • It's normal for your breasts to increase and your ribcage to expand during pregnancy resulting not only a few cup sizes bigger than normal but also a bigger back size may be needed.
  • At all stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding, ensure you can comfortably run your fingers between your rib cage and your bra band. If the bra band feels too tight, it's better to try a bigger back size.
  • Be aware of breast tissue under your arm. This should be comfortably encased within your bra cup (no wires should press on this delicate area).
  • When trying on maternity bras undo the clips and pull down the cup. This should be easy to do, and your nipple should sit outside of the A-frame or sling.
  • Maternity bras should provide good bust support and not flatten or squash your breast, they should be separated and fit comfortably into each cup.
  • The cups and straps should not slip while breastfeeding.

Brava supports high-quality maternity bra designers who have considered the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and created beautiful, supportive and functional lingerie. Whether you're looking for a plain, pretty or sexy maternity bra, with the best collection in Australia with cup sizes D – K and back sizes 8 - 22, you will find one that is perfect for you.

Read The Bra Fitter blog article on bra fitting for pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond and we encourage you to call us on 1300 4 BRAVA or email us for maternity bra fitting advice, it's important!


Brands we stockSHOP BY BRAND