Nursing bra buying guide
Nursing bras look like regular bras, but the cups open or lower when you pull them aside, or unsnap, unzip, or unhook the closure. It's convenient (but not essential) that you be able to open the cup for nursing quickly and simply with one hand. (You might be holding your hungry baby with the other. If you can close it one-handed, too, that's even better.)
Whichever style you choose, proper fit is the key to comfort. Besides being uncomfortable, a bra that fits poorly may put pressure on your milk ducts, which can cause them to get plugged and lead to inflammation in the breast.
Many women buy the wrong-size nursing bra. A common mistake is to buy a larger band size but the same cup size you wear when you're not pregnant. In fact, some women can stay with their original band size. The rib cage expands during pregnancy, but usually not enough to require a larger band size (although everyone is different). Some women may want to go up a band size for comfort. That's fine as long as your bra has plenty of adjustment hooks in the back.
Most women will need a larger cup size during pregnancy. Wear what you find most comfortable and supportive--either a larger regular bra, a maternity bra, or a nursing bra that you buy early. Just as with nursing bras, an expert fitter can help you with maternity bras.
Depending on the manufacturer, cup sizes can range from A through D, then DD, DDD, E, F, G, H, and I. Another mistake, experts say, is that women may not invest in good-quality nursing bras since they don't think they'll be using them for long. Since this is a time when you most need extra support, it's worth the investment to get something that will help you and keep you comfortable.
A professional fitting will ensure a comfortable fit and the correct size. Try on bras for size and feel, and practice with nursing pads in place. After you've bought one properly fitting bra, you can order more of the same style and size online or from a catalog. Many websites offer competitive deals.
Tempted to use your regular bra for nursing instead of a nursing bra? That's one cost-saving measure you don't want to make. Regular bras aren't designed for nursing and may not give you the extra support you need to be comfortable. And lifting your regular bra up over your breast to nurse can put a lot of pressure on breast tissue.
The best nursing bras are comfortable and offer good support but don't bind breasts in any way that could interfere with milk flow. For optimum support, the band and the straps should be made of nonstretchy fabric. But cups should have some "give" to accommodate your changing breast size at different phases of nursing.
Look for bras that are 100 percent cotton or a blend of cotton and Lycra or other stretchy synthetic. Since the right bra size is important and can help reduce the risk of breast-feeding complications, such as clogged milk ducts, shop at a maternity store or boutique that has an experienced bra fitter.
Your ultimate goal should be to find a nursing bra that gives you good support and feels comfortable. With a little experimenting and patience, your nursing bra will become something you don't think about that often, just like your regular bra.
Do you have any hints about nursing bras?