Australia’s Lingerie Blog for Women D Cup and Up

Bra fitting for pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond

by Maxine on August 21, 2012 in Maternity Bras, Bra Fitting, Breast Health

Pregnancy usually means your breasts will grow and change shape. It may be a little, it may be a lot, but either way you will become heavier as the tissue stretches to accommodate the new you. Don’t continue to wear the wrong size bra and risk your breasts losing their shape. This causes fatigue and discomfort to your shoulders, neck and back. Get a professional bra fitting to ensure you get the support you need at this very important time in your life.

Most women will go up at least one full cup size during their pregnancy, and usually the rib cage expands which may mean a bigger back size too.  All of your growing is likely to be done by week 16, but there may be a number of changes along the way, and then when the milk comes in there will be more fullness until it settles a little. 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 usually about the same time you are busting out of your jeans. A well fitting, supportive maternity bra will relieve breast strain, allow for breast growth, provide much needed support and help you to feel more comfortable.

Maternity bras are not what they were, thank God! Now they are pretty and supportive, some are even downright sexy… suspenders, anyone? It is however, important that the shoulder straps are low-stretch and comfortable, without digging in.  You can choose an A-frame or an internal sling, both styles should allow for the clip to be undone with one hand for discreet feeding. It’s not essential to purchase drop cup bras during pregnancy, but it often means they are still serviceable for some time after the birth.

Fit to the size you are (just as you would a regular bra) because maternity bras are designed in fabrics that allow for organic change. A significant difference is the number of hooks on the back strap, sometimes as many as 6 rows to provide room for growth.

Underwired bras during pregnancy – how safe are they?

If you’ve been wearing a wired bra everyday for years and every wirefree bra you’ve tried just hasn’t worked for you, listen up because there are advancements in this very complex design area. Some practitioners will not endorse underwires because breasts continually change shape throughout pregnancy. Less flexible and expandable, wired bras are alleged by some to interfere with natural changes, possibly obstruct the increased blood flow and compress the milk ducts.  Ill-fitting bra wires are one of a number of causes of mastitis; others include illness, stress, a skipped feed, and seat belts putting pressure on the breast have also been named as a culprit.

Reputable lingerie specialists have long researched the intricacies of creating a maternity bra with wires that provides the right support, comfort and uplift. There are up to 33 pieces in a regular bra and these things can’t be rushed.

Out of 7 maternity brands we stock, 3 have released a flexiwire maternity bra.

For underwire disciples there are some very effective maternity bras such as Elomi, Anita and Cake Lingerie that sport a flexiwire designed to flex a little with your body as it changes. The most important thing is that it should be fitted properly and if there is any discomfort – don’t risk it – don’t wear it. Some women decide that during pregnancy wirefree is OK for them, and after the milk comes in and they are getting back to wearing normal clothing swap to flexiwire for more bust seperation, definition and support.

Wired bras are definitely not designed for sleeping  in – why would you? You need to move around during the night and you wont be relaxed if an underwire is moving against you and causing discomfort. The best style to wear in bed is a crop-style top or a nursing tank, as they have no hooks to dig in at the back and you can slip nursing pads in easily.

During the past year, we have tried and tested these flexiwire nursing bras with very positive results. We have also spoken with many midwives. The consensus appears to be that as long as they are fitted correctly and you are aware of your changing shape then women can make their own decision, and it is a personal decision.

Many women will need different size bras throughout their pregnancy. You may read different opinions on other websites, however we fit women for maternity bras everyday and we see them return in disbelief that the size of their breast have continued to grow or maybe that once feeding their breasts have deflated quicker than they expected. If only we had a crystal ball!

For more information on nursing bras and breast feeding please take a look at the Australian Breastfeeding Association website.

Brava is with you throughout your many life stages, especially the most important one – becoming a Mum. We have all that you need whether it be a plain, pretty or sexy maternity bra. We have the right maternity bra for you in cup sizes from D – J and back sizes 8 – 22. With the best maternity bra selection for bigger cups in Australia you will find one thats perfect for you.  If you have any questions or comments about nursing and maternity bras, please let us know below!

By Lin Windram.

6 Responses to "Bra fitting for pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond"

  1. Jasmine says:

    I loved my Hotmilk flexiwire bra that I wore whilst breastfeeding my baby. Now I’m finding my breast size is starting to shrink again… hopefully not too much though! Must go bra shopping again soon.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hi, just needed to clarify the size difference on the HotMilk and Freya maternity bras, i am currently wearing a HotMilk bra in 14G, and i want to try Freya maternity bras, what is the equivalent of my size in Freya bras? i have been told Freya bras are a little smaller than HotMilk and have been advised to buy 16G or 16GG, while others have told me to try 14H!! Am a tad confused as to what to purchase, hope you can help me, i am currently 6 months into my pregnancy, and i hope to buy some that will last me through my nursing phase too.

    Also would like to find out if the sizing of Freya maternity bras correspond to their swim wear bikini sizes.

    Thank you!!

    • The Bra Fitter says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      Its a tricky one because even styles in the same brand can differ slightly in size. Yes, some Freya bras can be a firmer fit than Hotmilk but not so much to change your size that much. The best chance of the bra lasting throughout your feeding phase is to stick with the 14G or 14GG (36GG) and buy an extender. If you buy a size 16 you may find once youve had the baby it wont be firm enough around your ribcage. Saying that, I wouldn’t necessarily expect a nursing bra to fit you from early pregnancy to end of feeding because we go through so many changes. I would suggest a 14GG in Freya. Yes cup should fit same as Freya swimwear. We can always exchange if its not quite right. Regards Maxine

      • Stephanie says:

        Hi Maxine,

        Thanks for your prompt reply, now i can go ahead with my purchase with more confidence.


  3. Jacci - mum to be says:

    WOW – what happened to my pert C cups? Now Im E cup and still growing. Loving the Anita with the flexiwire (not ready to forego underwires yet) it gives a nice natural, smooth shape and is really comfortable. Ill be back to Brava in another few weeks I reckon, this time Ill try one of the pretty feminine styles, not sure if Ill still be E cup though!?!

    • The Bra Fitter says:

      Hi Jacci, Yes we find women walk into Brava shell shocked sometimes because they cant believe how much their shape has changed, its usually 1-3 cup sizes. Whether youre a C or an E cup hopefully the maternity range has improved enough over the years so you can find something feminine. As long as you keep an eye on the wires to ensure they do not sit on the breast tissue, then it should be fine. Well see you soon x

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