incredible infant

headline 2011

The Best Breastfeeding Bras:
Which is Your Perfect Fit?
Other Moms Size Them Up

The world of breastfeeding bras can be overwhelming. There are just so many choices and options out there.

It's just too easy to spend a tushie-load of money on bras that look better on the model than they feel on you.

And since you're going to be living, 24-7, in these bras, it's important to find the best nursing bra for you.

Easier said than done. A drawer full of rejects in my bedroom can attest to that.

Save your self the drawer-space (not to mention the money) by doing some due diligence before you whip out the credit card.

In other words, know what you're looking for before you start looking. That's what this article is all about.

  • Learn about the various types of breastfeeding bras, so you can consider which style(s) most appeal to you.
  • See how to self-measure your bust to ensure that you're ordering or purchasing a bra that will actually fit comfortably.
  • Where to find plus sized nursing bras. (Yes, they are out there!)
  • Get pointers on shopping for nursing pads. Washable? or Disposable? Which is best for you?
  • Finally, see what moms like you and me had to say about the top brands of breastfeeding bras. Move past the mannequin and see what living-breathing breastfeeders liked and disliked about the so-called "favorites".

So let's jump right in!

divider

Which Style is Best for You?

There are 5 basic nursing designs when it comes to breastfeeding bras. Here's a brief description of each.
  • Fastens in the front, between the breasts. Mothers report that it they are easy to open and close. These can be difficult to find in stores. Here's an example of the fasten-in-front style breast feeding bra.
  • Flaps fasten above each cup. Most breastfeeding bras follow this pattern. Make sure the flap opening is wide enough for your entire breast, not just the nipple (which can cause plugged ducts). Here's an example of the standard nursing bra.
  • Stretchy, sports-bra like breastfeeding bras. This style is very comfortable and is extremely useful as you are working hard to get back into those pre-preg jeans! They have an additional layer of mesh to pull sweat away from your nipples and prevent bacteria from settling in. Here's an example of a sports nursing bra.
  • Crossover breastfeeding bras. These are very similar to the sports-like bra. They do not have latches or snaps, instead relying on a crossover front design. This design allows you to slip your breast out quickly and easily, one handed. This type of nursing bra is extremely popular as a nighttime bra (but can be worn anytime). Here's an example of a crossover nursing sleep bra.
  • The nursing tank, with a built-in bra. This type of bra is hidden as a regular tank-top, allowing you to wear it alone, or under a shirt like a regular tank-top. It is relatively new, and a must-have in the closet. Here's an example of the nursing tank

Besides a comfortable bra and nursing pads, purchasing a nursing cover is also a good and wise investment. These specially-designed covers allow you to keep an eye on the nursing process, and make adjustments without flashing the teenager across the mall. They are breathable, too keep your baby cool, large to let you maneuver, and stylish. See nursing cover reviews here.

Things to Keep in Mind When Searching for
High-Quality Breastfeeding Bras

divider

When to Shop...

Your breasts will change size over time, so don't start shopping for your nursing bra until 4 weeks before your due date. Even then, your breasts can still change size. Either purchase one or two cheaper nursing bras 1 size and 1 cup higher than your current bra, or purchase a breastfeeding bra that has adjustable hooks on the back and fasteners on the top or side of the cup that will allow for your breast to expand freely.

Expect to spend between $15 (for basic) and $50 (for the premium) for a nursing bra. Higher priced bras generally have higher-quality fabrics, better design, and more color options.

But be warned...High price is no guarantee of a good bra, just as a low price is no guarantee of a good deal! These reviews of the top brands from moms like you will give you an idea of where to start your search.

divider

How Many to Own...

It is a good idea to bring a nursing bra with you to the hospital for delivery. You should own at least 3 nursing bras. One for you to wear, one for the laundry hamper, and one for your drawer. Your breasts will leak. Clean nursing bras are a requirement for healthy breastfeeding! Using nursing pads can help your bras last longer.

Keep in mind that the IRS usually offers tax deductions for items considered "breastfeeding equipment."

If you're going back to work and still want to breastfeed, purchase an extra nursing bra to keep at your desk in case of an emergency leak. (An extra shirt is also a good idea. See more great tips for working breast feeders.)

breastfeeding bras 2
{Photo by fikirbaz}
divider

Things to Look For...

The larger your breasts, the wider the straps should be. Narrow straps on larger cups can be uncomfortable and often don't give enough support. Poor support can lead to back problems and milk production issues!

If you choose a breast feeding bra that has flaps, make sure the flaps can be easily opened and closed. An extra bonus if you can do it one-handed! Some mothers prefer snaps for easy open/shutting, while others prefer a hook-and-eye system.

To underwire or not to underwire? It is generally recommended that if you choose an underwire nursing bra, you don't wear it in the first few weeks of milk production.

Your milk ducts wrap around your side, going up to your armpit and down to your rib cage. Underwire bras can pinch those ducts, creating painful blockages. If you choose an underwire, pick one that doesn't press against your breast tissue, and lies comfortably against your skin.

The cups on the best breastfeeding bras will be a breathable fabric, like 100% cotton. They will NOT have plastic lining or other synthetics that trap moisture against the skin.

Wet, warm skin is a breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria that can cause infections on your breast or on/in baby's mouth.

Sizing Up the Breastfeeding Bras
Best For You

Cup Size Chart

(This chart is for the US and Canada sizing system.)

Difference Between Cup
and Band Size
Cup Size
Less than 1 inch
AA
1 inch
A
2 inches
B
3 inches
C
4 inches
D
5 inches
DD or E
6 inches
DDD or F
7 inches
G

This pattern continues up to a 14 inch difference, which would be a N cup.

Your breasts are going to be somewhat sensitive (especially in the beginning) when you're in the "nursing season". A comfortable, well-fitting bra is essential for good milk flow and overall breastfeeding success.

Below are some simple steps you can take to measure yourself at home. These are general guidelines. As you're shopping, consider each brand's suggestions for getting the best fit. If you're still not sure, you can always stop in at your local bra store for a professional fitting.

divider

Measuring Yourself for a Good Fit

For your band size, you will take two measurements. First, measure yourself snugly across the top of your chest under your armpits (will be across the top of your breasts).

Then measure yourself under your breasts, across your rib cage. Which measurement is larger? If it's an odd number, round up 1. This will become your band size.

For your cup size, measure across the fullest part of your breast, across your nipple. Your breasts should be loose and not constricted as you take this measurement.

Subtract this number from your band size. Each inch left over will equal 1 cup size. The the chart to the right as a starting point in determining your cup size.

Breastfeeding Bras for
Plus Sized Women

It can be pretty darn frustrating for plus sized women to find comfortable plus size nursing bras. Many stores will only go up to a 40ish band and DD cup. The breastfeeding bras reviewed below let you know which ones come in larger sizes and where to purchase those plus size nursing bras.

Or, if you'd rather choose via department, rather than brand, Motherhood Maternity has a large plus-size department that has a wide range of options for the blessedly busty.

A Quick Word about Breast Pads

Leaky breasts are a part of breastfeeding for most nursing moms. There is nothing more embarrassing than looking down to realize that you've "let down" in the middle of dinner and your shirt is completely soaked. (Yes, it happens to the best of us.)

Since you won't know until your nursing whether you have "leaky" breasts or not, I recommend having some breast pads on hand just in case. The larger the pad, the more discreet it will be under your clothing. Slightly-pink pads also tend to be less notice under light colored clothing.

Prevent this "most embarrassing moment" from happening by keeping a good stock of breast pads. There are two types of breast pads out there. The washable (re-usable) breast pads, and the disposables.

divider

Washable Nursing Pads: Pros and Cons

The washable nursing pads are usually less expensive in the long run. However, you'll want to keep a healthy supply of clean ones on hand. Wet nursing pads are breeding ground for bad bacteria! As you wash the pads, be sure to avoid using any fabric softener, since this could impede the pads absorbency. However, you can add fabric softener sheets to the dryer to soften them.

When shopping for washable nursing pads, look for 100% cotton. This allows for good airflow to keep nipples dry and bacteria-free. Lace on the top is fine, as long as the rest of the pad is cotton. Some moms have used cut up cloth diapers or a man's folded napkin effectively as a homemade nursing pad. The same rule applies though. As soon as they get wet, change to a clean pad to prevent infection. Heavy leakers are encouraged to have about a dozen on hand for rotating through the wash.

The Bravado washable nursing pads are recommended by most lactation consultants. They have a large circumference, to cover the entire breast and feature a "cool max layer" that pulls moisture away from the skin for quick drying (and avoiding any "sticking" that disposables and some other washables can cause - youch!).

They are fully machine washable and made from terry-cloth. They are approximately $14 for a set of 6. Heavy leakers should double their pads for maximum protection (which would be the case with any nursing pad).

The best price for Bravado washable nursing pads is at HerRoom Lingerie

divider

Disposable Nursing Pads: Pros and Cons

Whether or not you decide on buying mostly washable nursing pads, it's a good idea to have at least a few disposables on hand at all times, just in case. I keep them where I keep my emergency diapers: in a side pocket of my diaper bag or purse, etc. They are a traveling breastfeeder's best friend. Especially when you're not going to have access to a washing machine.

breastfeeding bras 3
{Photo by Daquella Manera}
Since you're throwing them away as soon as you get them wet, the cost will depend on the amount of leaking you have. If you only leak occasionally, they may save you money and hassle.

If you're practically an open faucet, you're going to pay through the nose to keep your breasts dry. In that case, purchase several washable sets. It will pay off in the long run.

Sanitary napkins do not make good homemade disposable nursing pads. They may absorb the leakage, but they do not allow for good airflow, encouraging yeast and bacteria to grow.

In the world of disposable nursing pads, Lansinoh takes the lead for having the most-beloved disposable nursing pad. (72% gave them 5 stars.) These pads have a slight contour that keep it invisible under your clothing.

A self-adhesive tape keeps it from shifting around without you're noticing (always a frustration). They absorb well, while keeping your skin dry.

The second-place winner in the world of disposable nursing pads was Medela, with 51% of nursing mothers giving them a 5-star rating.

The best deals on both these disposable nursing pads can be found at Amazon. Buying in bulk will allow you to purchase them for as little as $0.18 a pad.

Reviews of The Top Breastfeeding Bras:
Moms Speak Out

Naturally, there are more breastfeeding bras out there than the 6 brands reviewed here. These are just the most popular and well known brands. If you find a brand you love and it isn't listed, please let me know. I'd be happy to research and include it in the list!

divider

Bravado Breastfeeding Bras

breastfeeding bras bravado
88% of moms reviewing the Bravado brand reported they were extremely comfortable, 71% said they were easy to use, and 54% said they gave good support. Most reported being able to open and close the flaps with one hand, and thought the colors and styles were attractive and not "grandma-ish".

  • Sizes Available: Sizes will vary on the specific bra you're looking at. Women with small band sizes (32-36) will find cup sizes from B all the way to DD - F. Women with larger band sizes at 42-46 inches, can find cup sizes as large as F - G.
  • Where To Buy: Her Room
  • Final Rating: 4.6 out of 5

divider

Glamourmom Nursing Tanks and Tops

breastfeeding bras glamourmom
There are two camps in regards to Glamourmom. Smaller-chested women report loving the support and enjoy the wide variety of colors and patterns. The biggest bonus is that these are shirts, not bras. However, larger chested women complained that the neckline was cut too low and the holes were too small for some nipples.

There was agreement that the tops were easy to use and had an attractive design. If you're looking for a nursing top or tank, and you are not an E cup, you may find these are just what you're looking for. However, check the return policy just in case!

  • Sizes Available: Sizes vary according to style. The smallest found was AA-B cup, 28-32 band. The largest was D-F cup, 40-44 band.
  • Where To Buy: A Pea in the Pod
  • Final Rating: 3.2 out of 5

divider

Playtex Breastfeeding Bras

breastfeeding bras playtex

This brand is well known for being the most inexpensive of the nursing bras. 96% of moms who use this brand report that it is comfortable and offers good support. The most common complaints were the plainness of the design and that the bras tend to wear out fairly quickly. 89% recommend the Playtex bra for everyday use.

The most popular design is the Expectant Moments Underwire Nursing bra. If you decide to give this design a go, be sure to skim through my comments about underwire nursing bras in the "What to Look For" section above.

  • Sizes Available:
  • Where To Buy: Amazon
  • Final Rating: 4.4 out of 5

divider

Medela Breastfeeding Bras

breastfeeding bras medela
Since Medela is the non-disputed leader in nursing equipment (LINK) it stands to reason that they would have a pretty impressive line of nursing bras.

The Medela Comfort Bra is their top design and is beloved by most moms for it's comfortable fit. The larger-chested you are, the more comfortable moms says it is. The Comfort Bra is worn by moms during the day and as a sleeping bra. The fabric is mesh-like, soft, and stretchy. It washes well and lasts a long time. Some mothers reported that the brand runs a little small, so you may wish to order 2 in different sizes and return the worst fit.

The overall consensus was that, specifically, the Medela Comfort Bra is a hands-down favorite for around the house and bedtime wear. If you're going out of the house, you should probably look at the underwire Medela nursing bra (also a big hit) or another brand altogether.

  • Sizes Available: The Comfort Bra is offered in small to X-large sizes, which corresponds to a minimum of 34-band and maximum of a 43-inch band. They do not offer cup sizing on this sports-bra style. Moms report they run a little small.
  • Where To Buy: Amazon
  • Final Rating: 4.7 out of 5

divider

Elle MacPherson Breastfeeding Bras

breastfeeding bras elle
Elle MacPherson Intimates is well-known for making sexy lingerie and extremely feminine underwear. In the land of nursing wear, they extend that reputation and balance beauty, comfortability, and functionality surprisingly well.

These nursing bras are on the expensive side, so expect to spend $50 - $60 for a single bra. 87% of moms reported that it was one of the most comfortable bras (let alone breastfeeding bras) they've ever owned. Larger-breasted women especially seemed to find the fit supportive and comfortable.

The largest complaint was the thin material. The nipple factor was a common dilemma. Most women reported fixing it with nursing pads.

  • Sizes Available: Up to size 38DD, some moms have found them up to cup size G.
  • Where To Buy: Her Room
  • Final Rating: 4.6 out of 5
divider

La Leche League Breastfeeding Bras

breastfeeding bras leche
One would expect, in the world of breastfeeding bras, for the well-respected La Leche League to lead the way in regards to nursing wear. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case. Their most popular bra, the lightly padded contour bra (pictured here), certainly gets points for looking the least maternal. In fact, it looks (and feels) like a normal bra.

However, most moms admitted that although it was comfortable, looked nice under clothing, and had good support, when it came down to nursing it was somewhat of a pain. Because of the padding, the cups are trickier to fold down and expose for nursing. The padding also provides great warmth in winter, but watch out Floridians! It could contribute to sweating and dampness around the breast (a nursing no-no).

If you decide to give this bra a try (the lower price here is a bonus), most mothers recommend you invest in a good nursing cover to provide discreet covering during the somewhat-cumbersome latch-and-unlatch process.

  • Sizes Available: Up to cup size DD
  • Where To Buy: Her Room
  • Final Rating: 3.9 out of 5


Which breastfeeding bras are your favorite? Share your experience with other nursing moms by listing what you liked, and what you didn't in a product review.

ADD TO YOUR SOCIAL BOOKMARKS: add to BlinkBlink add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us add to DiggDigg
add to FurlFurl add to GoogleGoogle add to SimpySimpy add to SpurlSpurl Bookmark at TechnoratiTechnorati add to YahooY! MyWeb

incredibleinfant

search box

Can't stay awake for
all 832 pages of
What to Expect the First Year?

Welcome to the
21st Century...

Custom Search

Stay Connected to the EiR

flower head graphic Facebook Buttons By ButtonsHut.com twitter graphic rss tag

Subscribe to "The Essential Infant Blog" by Email

The Essential Infant Blog

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

infant carriage

I am not a doctor. I do not diagnose or prescribe.
When in doubt, give Doc a shout!

Copyright © The Essential Infant Resource for Moms 2007 - 2011.

Return to top


See reviews on the most popular brands of breastfeeding bras here.

Who Makes Your Favorite Nursing Bra?
Bravado
Glamourmom
Playtex
Medela
Elle MacPherson
La Leche League
Other

Incredible Infant


feedback

I just subscribed to the site, and I'm very happy I did. I have worked in the medical field for several years and love to have good resources for when things come up...
~ Crystal S.

What a great site and thanks for having it available!
~ Bernadette W.

I'm very excited to start receiving the newsletter. I've checked out your site a couple times and I loooovve how it's arranged, your language, and tips - it's great!
~ Emily N.

Heather, I can't express how happy I am I discovered your site!
~ Liza T.

Thank you Heather, for your wonderful newsletter. There is always something new!
~ Desiree T.

I'm a 1st time young mom, 23 and single, so I have found very very helpful...I can't seem to stop myself telling everyone I know about you, some thought you were my mom!
~ Vuyiswa N.

Your website is very helpful and I discovered a couple of great online stores. 'Cause I'm not a big reader, it is very nice that I can find the most important information through your website.
~ Tonya G.

Thanks Heather! Your Milestone eBook is SO detailed and so correct. My son is doing all or most of the things and many are not mentioned in the usual books/sites. Great job and keep it up!
~ Anwesha C.

Thanks so much for creating such an AWESOME website. I really appreciate your sense of humor and real writing style.
~ Andrea Z.

My baby refused all bottles until you showed me the MAM bottle. Thank you so much for the recommendation. I wouldn't have known about them if not for your website.
~ Jennifer at Sweet Lilly Confections
Thank you ladies!
Talk about great motivation to keep writing...

smiley blush

sponsors

BabyLegs Leg Warmers

Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash