2023 Figure8Moms Nursing Bra Guide for New Moms - Best Nursing Bras
The lists of best nursing bras are here! We’ve tried on hundreds of nursing bras and heard the feedback of thousands of breastfeeding moms. In a never-ending search for the best, we update our guides throughout the year. Get the low-down on the best nursing bras in each category here:
You might be wondering, why do I need a nursing bra? Can’t I just wear a regular bra?
Here’s where nursing bras differ from regular bras:
Breastfeeding Access: Nursing bras are designed to allow convenient access for breastfeeding. There are a variety of styles of access. See below for an explanation of each type of nursing access.
Support: Nursing bras are specially designed to support your breasts through the tremendous changes that occur during pregnancy and nursing. You can expect a noticeable change in volume! It’s time to let go of your pre-pregnancy underwire bras. Lactation consultants advise that underwires can place pressure on your milk ducts and lead to breastfeeding complications. The best nursing bras offer good support while ensuring that everything keeps flowing. They tend to have wider, more comfortable straps than regular bras.
Comfort and Flexibility: Tender breasts, sensitive and sore nipples, engorgement, and size fluctuation are all part and parcel of pregnancy and the early days of breastfeeding. The best nursing bras are extremely soft on tender skin and breathable. They also are designed to fit a wider size range than normal bras because you really do change sizes in between feeds!
What are the most important features to consider in a nursing bra?
Soft Fabrics & Versatile Fit
Comfort and good fit is more important than ever when you are nursing. Wearing a nursing bra that doesn’t fit or constricts is not just miserable, it can lead to serious complications such as plugged ducts and mastitis. In the early days of nursing your size can fluctuate significantly during the course of a day. It’s best to wear a nursing bra that has a versatile fit so you stay comfortable through these changes. Soft, breathable, non-chafing fabrics are what your tender breasts need.
Lactating breasts are fuller and heavier than non-lactating breasts. Even if you never felt you needed support before, a supportive bra is a must when you are nursing. Good support spreads the weight of your breasts without constricting or squeezing to help keep milk flowing. It takes the strain off your breasts’ supportive ligaments to make you more comfortable and to minimize future sagging.
Convenient Nursing Access
Consider the different contexts in which you will be nursing. Will you often be nursing on the go? Will you be nursing and pumping interchangeably? If you are nursing a newborn or a preemie, maximum skin-to-skin contact might be a priority. See below for an explanation of each type of nursing access and its advantages.
When should I buy a nursing bra?
The answer would seem obvious – when you are breastfeeding. But in actuality, most women start shopping for nursing bras in their 2nd trimester of pregnancy because that’s typically when their pre-pregnancy bras start feeling uncomfortably tight. It is a good idea to start during pregnancy because your rapidly changing breasts need all the support and comfort features of a nursing bra.
How do I measure my size?
How do I decide what size to buy when my breasts are changing so rapidly?
Nursing bras are designed with size fluctuation in mind. Good quality nursing bras utilize fabric that that stretches while remaining supportive. They also feature extra rows of hook and eyes for more band adjustability. During pregnancy and the early months of nursing, we recommend selecting nursing bras that are sized S, M, L, XL rather than traditional cup and band sizes for greater fit versatility.
When shopping for a nursing bra…
During your 2nd trimester, keep in mind your band size at around your 6th month is usually pretty close to what you will be after delivery. Leave room in the cups to grow. Seamless stretch nursing bras are very comfortable for tender breasts and allow room for fluctuations in size.
During your your 3rd trimester, keep in mind your band size will decrease from here after delivery and continue to decrease in your early months of breastfeeding. There should be a little room in the cups to accommodate the increased fullness when you start lactating.
Right after birth, keep in mind your band size is likely to decrease over the early months of breastfeeding. Once your milk comes in, your breast will feel much fuller and firmer. That fullness will fluctuate in between feeds throughout the day. Your nursing bra cups should be supportive and still have enough room to support the fluctuation.
When your baby is a few months old, keep in mind that breast size and fullness typically peaks at about 3-4 months. Engorgement is common in the early months of breastfeeding, but will decrease over time. As you carry on breastfeeding beyond the 6th month, your breasts will start to decrease in size and fullness and will rarely be engorged. This is a good time to shop for traditionally sized nursing bras (the ones that have a band and cup size eg.34E) because your size has stabilized.
What are the basic essentials I should start with?
- 3 Sleep bras
- 3 Everyday nursing bras
- 1 pump bra (if you are pumping)
- Lots of nursing pads
- Nipple cream
I’ve never worn a bra to sleep. Why would I want to start now?
We love sleep bras for two reasons – support and staying dry! With your breasts getting fuller and heavier sleep might be more comfortable with a little support. Sleep nursing bras provide gentle, breathable support without constricting and without any hooks in the back. In the early days of nursing, breasts tend to leak. A sleep bra holds nursing pads in place to keep you dry and your sheets clean.
What are the different styles of nursing access and their advantages?
Drop Open Access
Lift-Up / Pull-Down Access
Drop open nursing access: These nursing bras have a clip on each strap that opens and allows the cup to drop open for feeding access.
Advantage:: These come in a great variety of styles and silhouettes to choose from to match your lifestyle. This option gives you maximum skin-to-skin contact with baby. It's the best option for fuller busts.
Pull aside nursing access: These nursing bras have very soft and stretchy cups that can simply be pulled aside for access.
Advantage: This is the easiest nursing access as there are no clips to deal with. These make very good lounge and sleep bras.
Lift up or pull down nursing access: These nursing bras have very soft and stretchy construction and can be lifted up over the breast or pulled down below the breast. There are no advantages with this type of access, except that this is the only type of access that works for strapless nursing styles. Because of the stretch required, these usually provide light support and work best for small busts.
What is the best kind of nursing bra access for nursing on the go?
It can be either drop open or pull aside, but it’s important that you’re able to open your bra with just one hand so that you don’t have to set baby down each time you switch sides. It might take you a few more days to master one-handed access with a drop open nursing clip, however a good quality drop open nursing bra will definitely provide smooth one-handed access once you get the hang of it.
What is the best kind of nursing bra access for night time nursing?
Pull aside nursing is so easy. No fumbling with clips in the dark, you can do it in your sleep.
What is the best kind of nursing bra best for newborns and preemies?
Select styles that provide maximum skin-to-skin contact with baby. This could be drop open or pull aside, depending on the style of the bra and your breast size. Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact helps newborns and preemies to feed better. The warmth and stimulation encourages reluctant and sleepy feeders to be more alert and nurse longer.
What is the best kind of nursing bra for nursing and pumping interchangeably?
Great news for pumping moms! You don’t have to change bras to pump hands-free. Dual function nursing and pumping bras allow you to interchangeably nurse and pump hands-free. Check out our collections from Rumina and BeliBea for great pump and nurse bras and tanks. Also check out the Bravado Designs Clip and Pump™ Hands-Free Nursing Bra Accessory which allows you to pump hands-free with any drop-open style Bravado Designs nursing bra.