Pregnancy Bra Fitting Guide
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.
Bra Fitting During Pregnancy & Beyond
If you're unable to visit a Brava Lingerie store to get expert maternity bra fitting service and be tended to by our knowledgable bra experts, the below tips here will help you find the right braf fit for your maternity bra that will support your changing shape throughout pregnancy and even 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 lingerie and nursing bra collections for bigger cups in Australia, you will undoubtedly find one at Brava that's perfect for you.
Breast Changes During 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 Bra Advice
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.
Here are several more questions we get often related to this special time period, and also pregnancy bra types:
I'm Pregnant. 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/Pregnancy 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.
Why Do I Need To Wear A Pregnancy 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 Or Pregnancy 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 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 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 Bras VS Nursing Bras
In Australia, there is no difference between nursing and maternity bras (pregnancy bras). However, usually, most western or European women will wear a maternity bra during pregnancy, which is the same as a nursing bra, but without the clips. The clips help for breastfeeding, but a popular thing that many women do is wear a nursing bra throughout the last few months of their pregnancy. For more questions about this please feel free to call us or email us!
How Many Pregnancy Bras (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 Pregnancy Bra?
If you feel more comfortable sleeping in a maternity bra, the Cake Cotton Candy Seamless Bra is a great option – it's 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.
How To Care For Your Lingerie
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 afterward. Learn more about how to wash lingerie here.
Brava Lingerie Pregnancy 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 pregnancy bra fitting advice, it's important! We can also help you with bra fitting after pregnancy. So do get in touch with our lovely bra experts today!
Shop Brava Lingerie Maternity Bras Here.
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