What are the best maternity and nursing bras?
To select our top maternity and nursing bras, we considered functionality, style, price and overall customer satisfaction according to reviews. W excluded any bras that received low ratings from customers.
What is a nursing bra?
A nursing bra is a specially designed bra that provides functionality to nursing mothers. A nursing bra looks similar to a standard bra but has one key difference: A simple snap or hook closure at the top of the cup allows you to pull down the front panel for easy nursing or pumping. This lets you avoid having to fully remove your bra when your baby is ready to eat.
A pumping bra differs from a nursing bra in that it is specifically designed for pumping. A pumping bra holds pump flanges in place while pumping for hands-free use. A pumping bra is typically designed with slits that let you pull the fabric away and easily insert pump flanges without having to remove your bra entirely.
Do I need a nursing bra?
Nursing bras add an extra element of support for nursing mothers. They’re designed to accommodate changing breast sizes and provide easy access to hungry babies. Some nursing bras are also designed to conceal leaks and hold breast pads. Nursing bras come with a nursing mother’s health in mind — they help support nursing breasts and reduce clogged ducts and mastitis.
Nursing bras may not seem like a necessity, and if you’re pregnant and not planning to breastfeed or just don’t feel the convenience is worth the extra expense, you may not need to purchase a nursing bra. If you prefer to wear a traditional bra or want to keep wearing your maternity bras, these will suffice. You want a bra that fits well, offers support in the right areas for a nursing mom and doesn’t make nursing more difficult than it should be.
Nursing bras have additional
that maternity bras don’t.
Nursing vs. maternity bra: Do I need both?
While similar to a standard bra, a maternity bra is designed with a woman’s pregnant body in mind. The cuts, fabrics and support of maternity bras may differ from a traditional bra. Women often have to purchase different maternity bras during their pregnancy.
Nursing bras have additional functionality that maternity bras don’t. In the later months of pregnancy, a woman’s bust expands as her body prepares to nurse — a good nursing bra is designed to support a heavy bust. The bras use strong supportive straps and added support at the back to support post-pregnancy, fluctuating breasts.
When it comes to shopping for bras during your pregnancy, it is up to you to determine whether you need both maternity and nursing bras or if one type will support you through your pregnancy and postpartum. Many women who plan on nursing and/or pumping choose to purchase nursing bras and wear those before the baby arrives. It is advised that you get fitted for your maternity or nursing bras as your cup size increases, typically around three months. Some women may even experience growth up to three cup sizes larger than their pre-pregnancy size.
Types of nursing bras
Bras come in many shapes, sizes and styles, and nursing and maternity bras are no different. If you’re shopping for a particular look or feel, you’re likely to find it. Below are the most common types of pregnancy and nursing bras.
- Breastfeeding bra: Also known as a nursing bra, a breastfeeding bra is designed for women who are breastfeeding or pumping.
- Pumping bra: A pumping bra is a specially designed bra that can hold pump flanges in place against your breast, leaving your hands free to multitask.
- Nursing sports bra: A nursing sports bra is an athletic bra for working out that also provides the functionality of a nursing bra.
- Plus-size nursing bra: These nursing bras are designed for plus-size women. You should be able to find nursing bras in any size.
- Nursing sleep bra: Specifically designed for nighttime feeders, this type of nursing bra is a comfortable crossover design that is easily pulled to the side for feeding.
- Nursing bralette: A nursing bralette is also the same as a nursing bra. It just references the style of the bra. Bralettes tend to be more lightweight and less supportive than traditional bras. They are unstructured and don’t contain underwire.
- Underwire nursing bra: These nursing bras have additional support from underwire.
- Push-up nursing bra: These nursing bras have additional padding to support breastfeeding breasts.
- Padded nursing bra: Extra padding in these nursing bras provides breastfeeding mothers with added cushion.
- T-shirt nursing bra: These bras are designed to be worn under T-shirts but also have nursing features.
- Nursing lingerie: Many companies design lingerie with nursing mothers in mind. Nursing lingerie functions like a nursing bra.
Our top maternity and nursing bra picks
Gratlin Women's Full Coverage Lightly Padded Underwire Nursing Bra
What we like: This lightly padded, full-coverage bra is an excellent option for nursing mothers and has easy access points for nursing your little one. A wide back band provides additional support for full breasts, and the subtle lace detailing gives this bra a feminine feel.
What to consider: This bra does contain underwire that can cause clogged ducts and is uncomfortable for some women.
What the reviews say: Women who purchased this bra seem to swear by it, and many reviewers said they have purchased multiple due to the comfort and wide range in sizes. Other reviewers found the underwire to be uncomfortable, while others didn’t like the extra padding.
Kindred Bravely Sublime Lace Back Seamless Nursing Bra
What we like: The soft fabric is comfortable against your skin and features an easy pull-on style without the hassle of hooks in the back. Clip-down cups allow for easy one-handed nursing, and the stretch support is great for fluctuating breast size during nursing.
What to consider: The extra padding in this bra cannot be removed.
What the reviews say: This bra is highly rated and loved by the majority of women who purchased it. Reviewers stated the bra is very comfortable and provides the right amount of support. A few women commented that they were unable to remove the padding from this bra and noted that as a drawback.
Playtex Women's Nursing Pullover Sleep Bra
What we like: This lightweight sleep bra is designed for "foggy" feedings and lets you easily get set up for late-night nursing. The light fabric is breathable and soft.
What to consider: This bra is designed only for sleep — because of that, there isn’t much support. It will probably not be your daily wearer.
What the reviews say: Women who purchased this bra consistently mentioned how comfortable these sleep bras are. As your skin is stretching and shrinking with the fluctuation of milk, these bras are a soft and easy solution for nighttime feeds. With the minimal support, however, some women with a larger bust found this bra to be lacking.
Motherhood Maternity Full Busted Seamless Clip Down Nursing Bra
What we like: This seamless bra is great for both expecting and new moms. The soft fabric, seamless design and full coverage provide comfort and support all day long.
What to consider: Seamless bras are known for their comfort, but this may not be the most supportive option for larger-busted women or working out.
What the reviews say: Reviewers of this bra mentioned that it is very comfortable and worked well as a sleep nursing bra. Women who purchased it as a maternity bra found the sizing to be just right as their cup size continued to increase. Some reviews did recommend purchasing up a size in this particular bra.
Playtex Women's Nursing Shaping Foam Wirefree Bra
What we like: The Playtex shaping nursing bra is designed to keep your feminine shape while nursing. The materials in this bra feature X-temp technology designed to keep a nursing mother cool and the Playtex 4-way system for superior support and comfort.
What to consider: The way this bra is cut is more generous than a traditional full coverage bra. It may not fit as expected, so purchasing online can be difficult.
What the reviews say: Women loved that this bra can be worn as a maternity bra or nursing bra. Many reviewers mentioned the comfort of the strap and the nice amount of support it provided. A few women mentioned that this bra runs large and the fit was off.
Kindred Bravely French Terry Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra
What we like: The easy pull-on style with no hooks and clasps makes this sleep bra easy to get in and out of. The gentle support is designed for nighttime and sleep, and the bra comes in a wide range of sizes. The fabric on this bra is sustainably sourced from bamboo, which is exceptionally soft for a pregnant or nursing mother’s skin.
What to consider: The lack of support may be an issue for large-busted women. However, a nighttime sleep bra is designed to provide comfort and light support.
What the reviews say: Moms who love the bra appreciated the soft fabric and said this bra provides just the right amount of support through the night. A few did mention a loss in elasticity after regular wash-and-wear use.
BRAVADO! DESIGNS Women Hands-Free Clip and Pump Strapless Nursing Bra
What we like: This accessory offers convenience and discretion while pumping. It’s designed to provide coverage while using pumping flanges, making it a modest mom’s dream.
What to consider: This is an accessory and must be used with an existing nursing bra. Don’t purchase this item alone, and you need to use it with a nursing bra with top clips.
What the reviews say: Women loved that this accessory could be attached to any nursing bra that you already have on hand without having to fully remove it. Others found adding the accessory to be tricky or cumbersome. Overall, the majority of women who purchased this accessory were happy with it.
Desirelove Nursing Bra 3-Pack
What we like: This three-pack of maternity nursing bras is for both pregnant and nursing mothers. The full coverage of this bra and wire-free support provide a comfortable option to wear around the house or at night.
What to consider: The simplicity of this design may leave some women feeling like they want more support, either from thicker shoulder straps or more support beneath the bust and back strap section.
What the reviews say: Many women loved this three-pack of bras for the price and comfort level. Reviewers noted the practicality of this bra while at home and nursing or for a maternity bra while sleeping. There were a handful of women who felt this bra was of poor quality.
Curve Muse Wirefree Nursing Bra with Lace Trim
What we like: The Curve Muse bra conveniently comes in a double or triple pack and is designed with plus-size women in mind. The true-to-size cotton fabric is soft and has easy-to-release clasps. Lined with lace and available in multiple colors, this bra maintains a feminine look and avoids a maternity feel.
What to consider: With pregnant and nursing women, the skin becomes more sensitive. If you find that your skin is irritated by certain fabrics, you may find the lace on this bra itchy or uncomfortable.
What the reviews say: Women who purchased the Curve Muse bra liked the comfort of the fabric, feminine design and overall quality of this bra. Some women felt that the sizing was on the small side. If you order, check the sizing chart or get measured.
When to buy a nursing bra and other FAQ
- When should I buy a nursing bra?
- Nursing bras can be purchased as early into your pregnancy as is necessary. If you choose to skip maternity bras and go straight to nursing bras, around roughly three months into your pregnancy is a good time to get fitted for new bras. Your body will continue to change, so make sure there is room for growth. If you are holding off on a nursing bra purchase, around eight months is also a good time to get fitted for a new nursing bra.
- How many nursing bras do I need?
- It is recommended that you purchase at least three nursing bras. Nursing bras get a lot of wear and will need to be washed regularly. Be sure to have enough to wear throughout the week and last your entire wash cycle.
- What are breast pads and do I need them?
- Breast pads are disposable or reusable inserts placed in your bra to catch any excess milk that leaks from a woman’s breasts during nursing. Women should buy breast pads after giving birth. Even mothers who do not plan to nurse will need breast pads because their body produces milk postpartum.
- How do you measure for a nursing bra?
- To measure yourself for a nursing bra, start with a soft measuring tape and follow these steps:
- Measure your underbust, the area around your rib cage just underneath your breasts. Your measuring tape should be snug but not tight. Round your measurement to the next nearest inch. This number is your band size.
- Measure your full bust by wrapping the tape around your back and across the fullest part of your breasts. Now subtract the band size from the fullest cup size. Each whole number is one full cup size. For example: If your underbust is 37 inches, round it up to 38 inches. If your full bust size is 42 inches, you subtract 38 inches from 42 inches to get 4 inches, which is a D cup.
- What should I look for when I buy a nursing bra?
- When purchasing a nursing bra, look for these features:
- Fabric: You want something that feels good against sensitive postpartum skin.
- Cut: Nursing bras can come in different shapes and cuts. Choose one that is comfortable for you and offers coverage and support for your size.
- Support: There are many options when it comes to nursing bras, and you’ll want good support. Straps, back band and undercup support are all important factors when determining if a nursing bra provides the right level of support for you.
- What size maternity bra should I buy?
- In order to find the perfect fit maternity bra, we recommend visiting your local maternity store to be measured and fitted. If you are measuring at home, follow the steps above to determine the right size for you.
- Are there pregnancy bras that grow with you?
- There are many types of maternity bras that you can choose from. During your pregnancy look for the following when choosing a maternity bra that can grow with you:
- Adjustable underbust band
- Adjustable straps
- Fabric with give
- No underwire
- Do I need a maternity bra?
- In short, a maternity bra is not necessary. However, your breasts may grow up to three cup sizes larger during your pregnancy, so it is inevitable that you will need some new bras to accommodate the changes happening to your body.
- How many maternity bras do I need?
- At least three maternity bras are recommended while pregnant. Keep in mind that your breast size may fluctuate or increase multiple times during pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to plan for a few maternity bras.
- When should you start wearing maternity bras?
- You can start wearing maternity bras as early in pregnancy as you would like. However, it’s recommended to start once you see an increase in cup size, which is typically around three months. Maternity bras are specifically designed for a pregnant woman's body and are often more comfortable than a traditional bra. It is up to you to determine when you are ready to make the change to a maternity or nursing bra.
- What should I look for when I buy a maternity bra?
- When looking to invest in a quality maternity bra, the three main qualities are support, comfort and adjustability. A bra should be comfortable, supportive and adjustable to fit your changing body.
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