Pregnancy is an emotional time full of change – both physically and mentally – which is why finding comfortable, supportive maternity wear is vital. In this blog post, we’re sharing everything you want to know about how and when to buy maternity bras. What should you look for? Is a maternity bra the same as a nursing bra? We’re covering it all for you mamas-to-be.
After reading this post, you’ll feel confident enough to find the perfect maternity bra (or bras) that will carry you through pregnancy and beyond.
What is a maternity bra
Maternity bras are specially designed for women to wear when pregnant or breastfeeding, as they have features that help support a woman’s body through and after pregnancy. Maternity bras differ from traditional underwire bras in that they support your growing breasts and keep you comfortable as your body expands. To do so, they feature stretchy fabric that allows room to grow as the body changes in shape and size.
Maternity bras also have wider straps for added comfort and sturdy support. They can sometimes have extra hooks to give more size flexibility, and some will also have clips at the cup to allow easy access for breastfeeding post-pregnancy. Not only are maternity bras constructed from stretchy fabrics, but the materials are also soft and breathable to keep you cool and content even in the uncomfortable months of pregnancy.
Most maternity bras have no underwire since they can be too rigid. Instead, they feature a flexible under-bust band that moulds with you and can accommodate your expanding rib cage. The cups offer plenty of coverage to keep you from spilling out, even as your breasts grow.
What’s the difference between a maternity bra and a nursing bra
Traditionally, a maternity bra was meant to be worn during pregnancy, and a nursing bra was for after birth. This is because nursing bras are designed with clips that allow easy access when pumping or breastfeeding. These days, you’ll often see maternity bras that are also breastfeeding-friendly, so you don’t have to buy separate bras. (Yay!)
Our Bendon maternity bras have clips that can be used during AND after pregnancy. This means you don’t have to worry about buying as many bras, especially during the busy months before and after you give birth.
Why you should buy a maternity bra
1. Your breasts go through lots of change during and after pregnancy
Your breasts will likely grow during and after pregnancy. It’s common for your cup size to increase anywhere from two to four sizes. Your breast may begin to feel sensitive, heavy, and bigger during this time, and wearing an underwire or any confining bra can restrict that process. If you choose to breastfeed or pump, know that your cup size and shape can also fluctuate throughout that journey.
2. Your body may change shape
Your breasts aren’t the only thing changing during pregnancy. Internally, a lot is happening to make room for a baby, so it’s expected for your body to change shape. For one, it’s common and normal to put on weight during pregnancy. Your rib cage may also widen during pregnancy, allowing the baby space to grow. After birth, your body is still going through changes in size and shape. To accommodate this movement, you may need to opt for a larger band size in your maternity bra than normal.
3. Maternity bras can be more comfortable
All the features maternity bras offer are there to help you feel more comfortable during and after pregnancy. When you’re shopping for a maternity bra, look out for these features:
Wide straps add extra support and won’t dig into your shoulders.
Having a maternity bra with extra hooks means you can adjust the size as needed.
Soft, stretchy fabric
You’ll be wearing your maternity bras daily, so you want them to be as comfortable as possible. Soft, stretchy fabrics won’t be scratchy, itchy, or restrictive. They’ll bend with your body as it changes.
Full coverage cup shape
Full coverage cups ensure your breasts aren’t spilling out, even as they grow larger throughout pregnancy.
As we’ve briefly mentioned, you ideally want your maternity bra to be wire-free. This will be the most comfortable option day to day as it is forgiving, stretchy, and skin-friendly on sensitive areas. If your maternity bra contains wires, make sure they are soft and flexible to avoid any issues.
4. Maternity bras provide better access for feeding and pumping
If you choose to breastfeed or pump, you’ll need access multiple times throughout the day and night. Wearing a traditional bra that doesn’t contain easy-access clips is impractical and annoying for everyday wear. Instead, opt for a maternity bra with clips to allow for better access. Because you don’t need to take your bra on and off each time you feed, maternity bras will enable you to feed more discreetly if this is important to you.
How to buy maternity bras
Understand how maternity bras should fit
The best way to ensure you buy a maternity bra that’s comfortable is to understand how it should fit. Ensure that the straps do not cut into your shoulders. They should be firm to hold breasts comfortably and distribute weight evenly. The bra band should have some stretch to allow your body to grow. The cups should be full coverage to keep breasts supported and allow for more room to grow. If the back of the bra is riding up, go up a cup size. And, the hooks should be the tightest hook initially so you have room to adjust later.
Buy the right amount of maternity bras
While buying multiple maternity bras at once might be tempting, we warn against going too crazy initially since your size can still change throughout and after pregnancy. Three bras are a great amount to start with. You may leak milk, especially in the beginning, so it’s always good to have backups to work in with laundry day. Consider that you may also want one to wear at night to keep your breasts supported and prevent leaking.
Choose a maternity bra you feel confident in
At the end of the day, you want a maternity bra you feel confident in. You’ll be wearing it most of the time, so choose something that makes you feel good. And no worries, maternity bras don’t have to be ugly. There are plenty of gorgeous colours and styles to choose from, like these Bendon favourites:
Use a sizing guide
When you’re pregnant or nursing, there are more important things on your mind than bras. This is why getting your correct maternity bra size right from the start is essential, so you don’t have to worry about sizing issues down the line.
While we recommend visiting us in-store for the most accurate sizing and tailored advice, sometimes it’s not always feasible. If you can’t make it into the store, visit us online and use our fitting room tool and bra size chart to work out your bra size. Using this sizing guide is swift, stress-free and makes shopping online a whole lot easier. All you need is a measuring tape and our size chart to use as your reference.
Have a bra fitting in-store
The best way to buy a maternity bra is to be fitted for one. That way, you can get advice on what size and style will work best for you while ensuring it’s comfortable and supportive in all the right places. Plus, it takes all the guesswork out of deciding which bras to go for. Remember, you may need to change your bra size throughout and after pregnancy, so don't hesitate to come in for multiple walk-ins. Expert guidance is key to finding your perfect fit to stay comfortable, cool, and confident throughout and post-pregnancy.
Come for a free custom fitting at Bendon, where our bra experts will help you choose a maternity bra that checks all your boxes. We’ll get your measurements, discuss what you’re looking for, check the fit, and make any suggestions on bras you try on. The whole process takes less than a few minutes, and there’s no appointment necessary.
For more information on what to expect when you come in for a fitting, check out this blog post.
Come in for a free maternity bra fitting at Bendon
Feel ready to finally purchase a maternity bra? Our fit experts are there to help you every step of the way. Head to your local Bendon store or browse our online selection of maternity and nursing bras to find your new go-to pregnancy bra.
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