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The importance of choosing well fitting maternity underwear.

August 18, 2010
bra maternity

Everyday we have questions from expectant or new mums about what they should and shouldn’t be investing in so we thought we’d pass them on to our blog readers. Here is our list of the most frequently asked questions. Hope it helps…

1. When should I be fitted for a maternity bra?

There is no ‘right time’ to be fitted for a maternity bra, but as soon as you feel uncomfortable or sore in your normal, pre-pregnancy bras then we suggest it’s time to get a non-wired maternity bra. Most women find that this happens around the time of their 1st scan – at 12 weeks.

2. How much bigger will I get?

Again, there’s no hard and fast rule on this – every woman is different – but you’ll probably go up 1 or 2 cup sizes and 1 or 2 band sizes as your rib cage expands to accommodate your growing baby. If you decide to breastfeed, your cup size may go up a further 2 cup sizes.

3. Why do I have to by a specific maternity bra rather than a normal soft-cup bra?

The increase in weight and size of the breast will cause the skin to stretch and the breast to drop, and you’ll start noticing that your breasts start to leak a little.  A good fitting, specifically designed maternity bra can minimise or prevent stretch marks and discomfort, keep you cool and absorb any leaking fluid.

4. What are the key things I should look for when choosing a maternity bra?

  • The cups should be lined in cotton or bamboo for hygiene and comfort. Bamboo is bacteriostatic, 4x more absorbent than cotton, and more breathable too. It’s not processed with bleach or chemicals, so it’s great for the environment, and safe against the skin.
  • The fabric should be stretchy but supportive enough to support your growing bust
  • There should be at least 4 rows of hooks & eyes to allow for your ribcage to expand
  • The straps should be wider than on a normal bra to ensure good support
  • You should fit a maternity bra on the tightest hook, so that you can then loosen it as your ribcage expands

5. Do I wear my maternity/nursing bra to bed?

This is down to personal choice. You may feel that you’re more supported in a sleep bra (a simple crop top) or you might find that fabric against your skin is uncomfortable. If you’re breastfeeding you may prefer to wear a bra so your breast pads stay in place and your bust is more supported, or you might find that you relish the chance to feel free!

6. When should I buy my nursing bra?

Your breasts will change size when your milk comes in (approximately 48 hours after the birth) and will continue to change day and night until you’ve established a proper routine. It may be best to leave buying bras until 1 or 2 weeks before your due date for a more accurate fit. Quite a few women prefer to buy a nursing bra instead of a maternity bra to wear during their pregnancy, hoping that they’ll still fit when they start breastfeeding.

7. What should I look for in a nursing bra?

  • no underwire
  • the cups should undo one-handed for easy feeding
  • shoulder straps should be wider and more supportive than on a normal bra
  • the bra should have a soft inner ‘sling’ to support your breast as you feed (a thin tape isn’t enough)
  • The fabric should be stretchy and breathable
  • The cups should be lined in cotton or bamboo to absorb any leaking milk
  • You should fit it on the 4th hook, as your ribcage will fall back to its natural place in the weeks and months after your baby is born
  • You should be able to fit your hand inside the cup so that you have enough space for breast pads

8. Why are nursing bras non-wired?

The underwire can put pressure on the breast which may lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis – a painful infection of the breast tissue. As your breast shape will change throughout the day as milk is produced and emptied this means that even if the wire fits you correctly at one point during the day, it won’t when your shape changes later!

9. How Many Bras Do I Need?

Once your baby arrives, life becomes fairly hectic and despite constantly washing you’ll almost certainly need at least four nursing bras. There’ll be one in the wash, one ready-to-wear, a spare one in case of any leakages and one for night time. Nursing bras need to be washed very frequently due to leaking milk (without fabric conditioners), and hung to dry.

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