The adage – your body is not your own during pregnancy is so true. If you have experienced pregnancy and motherhood, you know the human body is capable of wild fluctuations. The same goes for the post-partum days and months as a woman can produce the sustenance her newborn needs to thrive. Nursing can be a pleasure, a bonding experience, a challenge, and more. For comfort and convenience, many women choose to wear nursing bras during their breastfeeding phase. Others start wearing them during pregnancy. Clip down, pull down, hands free, let’s investigate.
Pros of Wearing a Nursing Bra
Comfort is paramount when speaking in terms of bra wearing. A bra that feels like you are not wearing a bra is the goal – nursing or not. Certainly, when nursing, your breasts will be larger and heavier than usual due to milk production. Also, increased breast size during pregnancy warrants extra support. More than ever your back will thank you for the extra help.
As a nursing mom, when your hungry baby is screaming for food, you are going to want to be able to provide it quickly and easily. Which translates into how fast you can move your clothes out of the way. Nursing bras come in distinctive styles; cups that open, can be pulled down, or unclipped. These allow easy access, not to mention discretion when and if you need it.
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If you are going to pump, a great invention is the hands-free nursing bra. It has small openings around the nipple that sustains the breast pumping shields for you while you run the pump. This is way easier than sitting and waiting with your hands tied up holding up the pump.
You can choose from a variety of bra types depending on your lifestyle. There are sports nursing bras, soft-cup (seamless) nursing bras, sleep nursing bras, the breast pumping nursing bras mentioned above, tank top style nursing bras, to name a few.
Another advantage of wearing a nursing bra is its design which features a little give in the cup size. Milk production is a supply and demand situation – breasts swell when full and shrink when they are not. Fabric with stretch accommodates these fluctuations and is integral in nursing bra design. Even before nursing starts, cup size that can grow with your ever-changing pregnant body is a plus.
A handy add-on when buying a nursing bra is anti-leakage pads. Insert them into a nursing bra – they work great for overnights. And prevent stains or wet spots from leaking through onto your clothing.
Speaking of Support
The word brassiere is synonymous with support. While caring for your baby is, obviously, the main event, how does nursing affect your breast shape going forward? Is it vain to think in terms of perkiness in the past tense? No! This is a natural concern.
Ligaments that support the structure of your breasts, called Cooper’s ligaments, connect breast tissue to the adjacent muscles. Post pregnancy, and after weaning your baby, breasts may be saggy or look deflated, as these ligaments can stretch during pregnancy and nursing. While being diligent about wearing a supportive bra may reduce stretching, total number of pregnancies, and heredity impact the shape of your breasts. Nonetheless, it cannot hurt to include extra support in your daily life, and even overnight as needed.
First, expect you will need diverse sizes to accommodate personal changes over the course of the pregnancy, and the initial postpartum period. On average, a woman’s cup and band size will increase 2-4 times during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Take your bra measurements during the last month of your pregnancy. Consult the sizing and measuring instructions on the website you are perusing for your nursing bra(s) before clicking purchase. Alternately, get an in-person, professional fitting from a maternity shop.
Buy a comfortable size but ensure there is extra room in the cups as your breasts will swell with milk right after birth. As milk production regulates after the first couple of weeks post-partum, cup size should remain consistent throughout breastfeeding. At this point, you may need to purchase a contingency of nursing bras. Afterall, breast milk leaks, babies spit up, and you’ll want to have (at least) one clean one in rotation.
If your concern is shape and contour there are underwire nursing bras. However, some experts warn against underwire because it can put pressure on milk ducts which may lead to inflammation and blocked ducts.
A word on fit: Nursing bra straps should be wide and should never dig into your shoulders. The band should not pinch, squeeze, or put pressure on your breast tissue. The bra should be comfortable! If it’s not, try another size, style, or brand.
Having a newborn comes with a list of requisite challenges: sleepless nights, yo-yoing hormones, learning to care for your baby, juggling demands of, oh yeah –the rest of your family, and work. But if you live an organic lifestyle, rest assured nursing bras made with organic materials are a thing.
Look for a blend of cotton which will allow any moisture to dry as air flows through cotton, as opposed to a synthetic material that can trap moisture. Think of breathability. Also, pregnancy and breast feeding can heighten sensitivity to synthetic fabrics for some.
The truth is every woman has a different body, and unique experience with pregnancy and nursing. Women who have gone through multiple pregnancies often say each pregnancy is unique including the way her body grew. So, really, the bottom line is you need to experiment and find what works for you. Feeling sexy might matter to you. While others want comfort regardless of what that looks like. Sexy, frumpy, or somewhere in the middle …. the functionality of a nursing bra and ease of use in your routine is what will guide you best.