What you need in a maternity bra and when

By Alexandra Whiting

During pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding, your boobs will go on a journey - so will the rest of you, but right now we’re focusing on the boobs. This journey requires extra and different support to what they are used to. So from T1 to established breastfeeder, here’s what you need to know about finding the right bra.

 

First Trimester

Towards the end of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy your boobs will start to grow. Everyone is different, but this is a good time to start considering a maternity bra that will grow with you. “Maternity” bras are meant to be for your pregnancy, and “nursing” bras for your postpartum and breastfeeding time, but most are both. Juem and Hotmilk, our two bra brands, have styles that do both so that you get the most out of them. Juem is like luxury loungewear - soft and flexible but still supportive. Hotmilk designs are more structured for extra support but have soft cups and six sets of hook and eyes to accommodate your pregnancy growth.

 

Second Trimester

Guess what, your boobs are now making milk. Wild right? They are also most likely getting bigger, something that will only continue. It’s great to get properly measured at this point, but the main thing you want is something in a stretchy, breathable, material. This puts zero tension on the breast tissue and allows flexibility in your sizing. Juem designs are made from a carefully chosen cotton and elastane blend which also means there’s room for breast pads when you start feeding.

 

Third Trimester

If you like to shop in advance, your breast size at around eight months is what it should be once your milk settles, so if you wanted to measure for a more fitted nursing bra, like Hotmilk, the middle of your third trimester is the time to do it. You’ll find your boobs really swell towards the end of your pregnancy and you might feel more comfortable sleeping in a bra also. Another reason for super soft, stretchy designs, though you might find you’ve gone up a size. Not to worry, some extras in bigger sizes will come in handy during the first six weeks while your milk is fluctuating and you’re definitely wearing them day and night (and probably leaking through a few). Underwires aren’t recommended for pregnancy and breastfeeding but it’s not often explained why. It’s because the rigidity of an underwire could put pressure on the breast which can affect milk production or cause a blocked duct.

 

Postpartum

After birth, your boobs can do a few different things depending on your delivery, but around day 3-5 your milk will come in and they will hit their peak. Get the body ice and boobie balm ready! Your size will fluctuate (so stick with the soft bras) until your supply settles at about 8 weeks postpartum, when you might want a more structured bra that offers more support. Nursing bras need fasteners that are easy to open when you need to feed and stay closed when you don’t (that’s the only kind we sell). They also need to be comfortable when you’re sitting, standing and lying down.

 

First fitting

Regardless of the stage, when fitting a maternity/nursing bra for the first time, extend the shoulder straps to the end, slip them onto your arms and lean forward into the bra so your bust naturally falls into the cups. Stand and fasten the back as tight as you can. Pull down the back of the bra so it is positioned under the shoulderblades. Then use your hands to adjust each breast in its cup, and adjust the straps so they are firm but comfortable.