When it comes to having a baby for the first time, the changes to your body that pregnancy brings can feel completely like uncharted territory.  Even when it’s not your first rodeo, the experience can be totally overwhelming! Supporting your breasts during pregnancy and into your life as a new parent is important for your comfort, convenience and confidence. With more important things to worry about, you’ll want your bra to be as reliable and comfortable as possible, so you’ll barely need to think about it as you immerse into pre and post-birth life. We’re here to support you, which is why we’ve pulled together this helpful guide with everything you need to know about maternity and nursing bras, so you can find a bra that fits you perfectly through pregnancy and beyond.  

We will cover when to start wearing a maternity bra, why you should wear one, what makes a maternity bra different to a regular bra, and the things you should consider when choosing one that’s right for you. As always, once you have done your research, head into your local Bendon store where our fit experts can help you find maternity bras that work best for you.

Why you need a maternity bra during pregnancy

Wearing a correctly fitted bra is particularly important when you are pregnant as your body starts to prepare for childbirth. Your breasts will start to grow and change as you progress through each stage of your pregnancy. It’s vital to support them through every step to prevent any neck and shoulder strains that could potentially turn into long-term issues post-birth.

As your baby grows, your ribcage widens to make room for the baby, and your breasts typically become tender. Some women also experience itching due to increased blood supply to the skin. 

Maternity bras are designed to accommodate these changes, with features such as: 

  • Wire-free cup construction as underwires can cause dig in
  • Soft and stretchy fabrics that offer plenty of support
  • Have extra-long hook and eye adjustments that give you the flexibility to adjust pre and post-birth. 
  • Made with super soft, non-irritating fabrics. 
  • Adjustable straps for a comfortable fit as your breasts grow
  • Designed with extra lining in the cups for added protection from leaks 

All of these features help to maximise comfort for when you crave it most. 

If you have never worn a wire-free bra prior to being pregnant,  you may think they are not for you and that your breasts won’t feel supported.  But trust us they will be exactly what you need especially in the later stages of your pregnancy.  A properly fitted bra should give you the support and uplift you need even without a wire. Bras that are too tight or restrictive can affect blood flow and breastmilk production.

Your body is going through extensive magical changes, so keep an open mind and test out different products to find the right one for you.

When to start wearing a maternity bra

As we know everybody is different, and the same goes for every pregnancy. So, when you change into your maternity bra the first time, it might not be the same time as the subsequent time. Colostrum, the milky fluid that is released before breast milk production, can actually start being produced as soon as 16 weeks, so you may start to notice changes in your breasts in the first or second trimester. Most women start to buy maternity clothes during their second trimester, so it’s a good time to shop for maternity bras then too. 

Signs it’s time to shop for a maternity bra include:

  • You are starting to outgrow your current bra, spilling over the cups or feeling strain on your straps
  • Your current bra is starting to feel uncomfortable 
  • You notice a feeling of fullness in the breasts
  • You are in your second or third trimester
  • Or simply, you still have lots of energy and just feel like going shopping 

The most important point is to listen to your body and let her guide you. Your breasts may change a lot during pregnancy, or only a little. Where there is noticeable change, we recommend moving to maternity bras, as these are designed to grow with you and  can actually save you more money in the long run than changing your bra every few months.

What makes a maternity bra different from a regular bra

Maternity bras are designed to support growing and changing breasts, as opposed to just fitting a specific breast size. Notable features of maternity bras are:

  • Stretchy comfortable material, they generally don’t have underwire.  Which is key for supporting blood flow and impending milk production. Like our me by bendon Simply me

They have clips and drop-down cups so you can use them when breastfeeding or pumping like this signature style in our me by bendon range Zoe or Elodie

  • They come in a great range of higher cup sizes, which is great as your breasts are generally a lot larger when you are breastfeeding and/or pumping 
  • Adjustable band to support your changing body size, all of our maternity bras have this feature.
  • Comfortable straps to ease the weight of bigger breasts

You may be able to get away with wearing your regular bra for some of your pregnancy, but you will most likely want a maternity bra, especially for convenience and comfort when nursing.

How to choose a maternity bra

When choosing a maternity bra it is really important to consider the stage of your pregnancy or how far post-birth you are as your body is still likely to be changing.  It is important to ensure:

  • The band is not tight or uncomfortable - you want enough room for adjustment 
  • The bra cup should cover your breasts giving room to grow! You should have room to slip your hand into your bra cup without stretching the cup too much
  • Bra straps should be comfy and adjustable and don’t cut into your shoulders
  • It’s not uncommon for women to go up a band and cup size during pregnancy so if you are buying early keep that in mind 

Maternity Bra FAQ’s 

I'm not going to breastfeed; do I still need to buy a pregnancy bra? 

Ultimately it is your choice. Even if you’re not planning on breastfeeding your baby, your body will still initially create both colostrum and milk, and your breasts will get heavier during pregnancy. Even if you don’t nurse, you will likely need to express until your supply wanes.

Your midwife or obstetrician can guide you on how to stop milk production post-birth if that is the decision you have made. If you don’t plan to breastfeed, you may still choose to wear a maternity bra for the comfort, adjustability and support they offer during pregnancy. 

If you choose not to wear a maternity bra, we recommend at least switching to a supportive wire-free bra.  Here are two amazing  options from our wire-free collection.

  1. Seamless Wirefree bra
  2. Bendon Ultimate Stretch

How should my pregnancy nursing bra fit me initially?

A properly fitted bra should always fit you comfortably and make you feel supported.   Maternity bras are designed to change with you, so will have stretch in them to adapt to your changing size.  If you are buying your bra in the first or second trimester you may need to come back in later in your pregnancy to be fitted again. It is worth noting that the maternity bra you buy earlier in your pregnancy will likely come back into rotation later in your post-birth life as your body starts to return again to your pre-pregnancy life.

In which month does milk come during pregnancy?

Colostrum production can start as early as 16 weeks. This milk is the first milk you will actually express for your baby once your baby is born. After this stage, you will naturally start to produce milk, this can vary in time depending on the person.  It could be a day it could be a week, but your midwife or obstetrician will be able to guide you more about this.  

What size maternity bra should I buy?

Maternity bras are designed to change with you. We do recommend you buy a couple of maternity bras to use throughout your pregnancy as well as post-birth. Birthing bodies are amazing and can change from week to week, so having options so you’re always comfortably supported is a good idea! 

If you are in your first or second trimester, you may need to buy a few different sizes to ensure you are comfortable. As you enter your last trimester, it’s likely that your breasts have started to get fuller or as full as they are likely to. Use our handy size guide to work out your new size, or call your local Bendon store to get help with finding the right fit. 

How much bigger do breasts get during pregnancy?

It is not uncommon for people to go up at least two cup sizes during pregnancy, and two to four band sizes.

Cross maternity bra shopping off your pre-baby to-do list with Bendon

Our helpful fit experts can help you choose the best maternity bra from our range so you can be more comfortable during and after your pregnancy. Visit us in-store or shop maternity bras online.