Attention Pregnant and Nursing Moms: Your Bra Matters
During pregnancy, a woman can expect each of her breasts to become 10-18 ounces heavier due to increases in fluid and mammary gland growth. This puts surrounding skin and tissue under considerable strain, making the right bra essential. It’s time for a maternity bra once breasts begin to swell and existing bras no longer fit—usually around the fourth month onward. Maternity bras, designed to provide extra support, should fit comfortably on the tightest hook early in pregnancy and adjust to the loosest by the last trimester.
When shopping for maternity bras, look for:
- Wide side bands and shoulder straps to support growing breast tissue. Shoulder straps should have some cushioning and not stretch.
- Three or more back closures to offer flexibility in fit.
- A band that lies under the breasts and on the rib cage (not on breast tissue). If breast tissue receives pressure, it could lead to a plugged duct and ultimately mastitis or breast infection.
- Large enough cups to give adequate coverage and depth for your breasts. If the cup is too small, breast tissue may spill out on top and under the arms resulting in inadequate support.
- Cotton or wicking microfiber if you get hot easily or are pregnant during warmer months.
While some women change in size drastically and require several different bra sizes throughout pregnancy, others change little until the baby arrives and milk production begins.
Once baby is born, nursing mothers enter the world of nursing bras—designed with cups that open so baby can nurse while the rest of the bra stays in place. “The rule of thumb is to buy one cup size larger than your measurement at eight months of pregnancy. In general, this is how much a woman's breasts will increase once milk comes in after birth,” notes lactation consultant Phyllis Young, RN. Follow these tips:
- Look for a bra that provides convenient, easy access to the breast. A bra that allows the cup to be opened with one hand may be helpful when you're holding your baby and preparing to breastfeed.
- Choose cotton or another breathable fabric. Synthetic materials trap moisture against the skin.
- Buy a bra with a multi-hook back closure for the greatest flexibility in fit.
- Choose wide, cushioned, non-stretch straps for optimum support.
- Make sure the band of the bra fits comfortably on its widest setting since your band size will start to decrease after birth.
Learn more about nursing. Welcome to Grand View’s informative Nursing Blog at www.gvh.org/nursing.