Nursing and maternity bras guide

Apart from a growing bump, among the biggest body changes in pregnancy and early motherhood will, for many, be breast size and tenderness (joy!). So it makes a MASSIVE difference to your comfort and support to buy maternity/nursing bras made from the right fabric, that adapt to your evolving shape and offer all the handy breastfeeding/pumping features you need.

If you’re pregnant for the first time and find this particular topic a little confusing, read on!

Here we’ll cover:

  • Nursing vs maternity bras: is there a difference?
  • Key maternity/nursing bra types
  • Seamless bras: why they’re so good for pregnancy/postpartum
  • Seraphine’s pregnancy-safe flexi-wire options for underwired bra lovers
  • When should I start buying maternity/nursing bras?
  • What size maternity/nursing bras should I buy?
  • Is it OK to wear…

  • nursing bras during pregnancy?
  • a nursing bra for pumping?
  • a nursing bra at night?
  • How many maternity/nursing bras do I need for hospital?
  • When can I stop wearing nursing bras?
  • Nursing vs maternity bras: is there a difference?

    Where bras have traditionally differentiated is that those labeled “maternity” are designed specifically to support your growing breasts through pregnancy, while those labeled “nursing” will generally have a flexible fit too, but will also have features (like drop-down cups) for more accessible breastfeeding.

    Key maternity/nursing bra types

    Our pregnancy/maternity bra styles include:

  • Seamless for an adaptable fit
  • Pregnancy-safe flexi-wire bras
  • Soft cup – comfortable and wire-free
  • Padded cups to add shape, provide nipple coverage and hide milk leaks
  • Which one you go for is a matter of preference, shape and perhaps what you’re used to. And while our bras have those handy design features which make them ideal for pregnancy and nursing, we’ve remembered to keep them stylish too! Choose from an array of colourways and finishes, including lace options and smooth tee-shirt bras.

    Nursing vs maternity bras: is there a difference?

    Where bras have traditionally differentiated is that those labeled “maternity” are designed specifically to support your growing breasts through pregnancy, while those labeled “nursing” will generally have a flexible fit too, but will also have features (like drop-down cups) for more accessible breastfeeding.

    Seamless bras: why they’re so good for pregnancy/postpartum

    Our seamless pregnancy/maternity bras are among our most popular for several reasons:

  • They come in simple sizing options: choose from XS to XXL. We also have a plus size curve range (1X to 3X)
  • The soft and stretchy fabric adjusts to fit your expanding rib cage
  • The adjustable cups are ideal for your changing body in pregnancy and the daily fluctuations that can occur to breast size while feeding your baby
  • The seamless style makes them compression-free so they won’t block milk ducts
  • Being seam-free also means no rubbing on tender and delicate pregnancy or postpartum skin
  • They design still offers excellent lift and shape with no need for underwiring
  • Finally, several of our seamless bras are made from bamboo, something of a wonder-fabric which helps to wick away moisture from your skin (breast milk and sometimes your adorable baby’s dribble!). It also has anti-fungal and anti- bacterial properties – great qualities if you’re nursing.

    Seraphine’s pregnancy-safe flexi-wire options for the underwired bra lovers

    You may well be told by a doctor or midwife when you go for your first pregnancy check-up that you should stop wearing underwired bras from the beginning of pregnancy. That’s because the rigid hard wire in regular underwired bras can damage breast tissue, milk ducts and restrict the natural growth and shape of your boobs when the bra fit is not correct – something that can happen all-too easily with the frequent changes to cup size during pregnancy.

    Luckily, if you’ve always preferred to wear an underwired bra, we have maternity-friendly options which use a product called flexi-wire. This isn’t the same as the hard wire you get in regular lingerie, and is completely safe to wear throughout your pregnancy, and while nursing.

    Our flexi-wire sits on the underside of the bra cups (inside a wire casing), providing shape and structure as well as breast separation. Unlike the wire you get in regular bras, flexi-wire is soft, flexible and cushioned. It will flex as your breasts increase and decrease in size and, as long as you choose one that fits correctly, it won’t sit on your delicate breast tissue.

    Flexi-wire bras are a great option if you're looking for something to support your breasts when they’re at their fullest and most tender but that will also adjust throughout the fluctuations. They offer a nice, structured shape under workwear too, making them an ideal style to go for if you want to look office-smart throughout pregnancy and afterwards.

    When should I start buying maternity/nursing bras?

    If you’ve been wearing a hardwire underwired bra before finding out you're pregnant, you should consider swapping to a flexi-wire or wireless model as soon as you’re able to. Otherwise, there are no hard and fast rules on this one as everyone’s experience will vary, but as a guide we’d suggest investing:

  • at around week 20 of pregnancy: your breast size should be fairly stable at this point after growing in the first trimester
  • at around two weeks before your expected due date:your breasts will grow as your milk comes in and should settle at a certain size once you establish a nursing routine (if you decide to breastfeed).
  • This is just our recommendation though: if your bra feels uncomfortable or is not fitting as it used to, it’s probably time for a change.

    Top tip: You’ll know if you’re wearing the correct bra size as the entire breast will sit comfortably in the cup with no overflow at the top or sides, the back band will sit firmly against your rib cage and the front centre will sit flat against your body.

    Carrying twins/multiples?

    If you’re expecting more than one baby, you might find that (in part, due to hormones) your breast size changes sooner in pregnancy and goes up more in general. This can be especially so once you get to nursing (if you choose to do it) and your milk supply is nourishing two or more babies. Keep a regular check on how your bras fit and, if you need to, change them sooner than 20 weeks as suggested above.

    What size maternity/nursing bra should I buy?

    The best way to know what size maternity/nursing bra to buy is to get measured. We highly recommend arranging a professional bra fitting if possible. If you’re not able to do this (and we know it can be tricky with the busy lives we lead) you can do it at home – either on your own or with the help of your partner or a friend.

    You’ll need a tape measure to help you ascertain two key measurements. These are band size (measured under your breasts and around rib cage and bust size (measured around the fullest part of your breasts) – both of which you can use to determine cup size.

    Is it ok to wear…

    …nursing bras during pregnancy?

    Absolutely! As we’ve mentioned, our maternity/nursing bras can be worn at any stage even if you’re not using the nursing function yet. The super-soft fabric and flexible fit still makes them a great option.

    …nursing bras for pumping?

    Yes, you can wear nursing bras for pumping. The drop-down cups/crossover styles like our Samantha bra is an ideal choice for in-bra pumping. You can slot any wearable pump comfortably into your bra and express while sitting down and taking it easy.

    …a nursing/maternity bra at night?

    Yes, though these usually differ from the daytime ones you’d wear. As a rule they won’t have the clips and fastenings regular maternity/nursing bras have so they won’t press on you while you sleep. If you’re wondering why anyone would want to wear a bra in bed, the answer is that lots of women find their breasts can feel particularly heavy (not to mention leaky!) at night during the nursing stage. Wearing a bra in bed – often known as a “sleep bra” – offers light support as you rest and means you can put breast pads in it to soak up any milk. We have several sleep bras in super-soft bamboo viscose which feature a crossover design so you can breastfeed or pump while wearing them, too.

    How many maternity/nursing bras do I need for hospital?

    We’d suggest packing two or possibly three in your hospital bag. Make sure you have breast pads handy too as these can help absorb any milk which may leak during the first few days after giving birth.

    When should I stop wearing maternity/nursing bras?

    This is totally up to you! But as long as you’re finding the functions useful, such as the drop-down cups, keep wearing them. Once you’ve stopped breastfeeding, it can take around three to six months for your breasts to settle to a steady size again, so you might want to hold off a while before investing in new ones and, again, we do recommend going for a proper fitting to ensure a comfortable and supportive choice when you’re ready to switch.

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