Everything I Know About Nursing Bras

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If you are pregnant and plan to breast feed, sooner or later you will find yourself in need of a nursing bra.  These are also sold as “maternity” bras, but you really don’t need a nursing bra while you’re still pregnant (unless of course you’re breastfeeding while pregnant, and in that case, I salute you).

Of course you could go to your local maternity fashion store or to Target and buy what’s there, but quite frankly, you may as well throw your money down the toilet.

I used to own a lingerie store where I carried several brands of nursing bras and I sized lots of new mothers for nursing bras.  Also, I’ve spent years as a nursing mother myself, so I know a thing or two about the subject.

Optimally, I would suggest you go to your nearest independent lingerie store and get fitted by a qualified professional, or at least spend some time trying some bras on.  But not everybody has the time, or perhaps you’re just more comfortable ordering a bra online.  In this case, here are some helpful tips for all you do-it-yourselfers.

Wait until at least your eighth month of pregnancy (but preferably as close to your due date as possible) to purchase your nursing bra.  Your rib cage expands during pregnancy and most brands of nursing bra have at least five rows of hooks to accommodate for expansion and contraction (as opposed to a standard bra’s three) but your most accurate and comfortable size will be right at the end of your pregnancy.

How to measure yourself:

Wear your best fitting bra while you do this.  You may want your husband/partner/best friend to take the measurements for you if you’re not a yogi or double-jointed.

Using a tailor’s tape measure (the soft kind) wrap the tape measure around your mid-back where your bra would lay.  Firmly bring the tape measure up over the top of your bosoms, right at the apex of your cleavage.  Don’t be afraid to squeeze the tape.  If your measurement is an odd number, size up an inch.  If your measurement is at the half inch point, size to the nearest even number (for example if you measure 35.5, then try a 36.  If you measure 34.5 try a 34.) Now measure across your bosoms, right at the nipple..  Again, don’t be afraid to pull the tape measure quite tight.  Now subtract the second measurement from the first.  If your over-bust measurement is a 36 and your underbust is a 35, try a 36A.  If your over is a 36 and your under is a 34 try a 36B.  Three inches difference would make you a C and four would make you a D, and so on and so forth.

You will also want a bra extender.

You will want three or four bras.

I carried no underwire nursing bras in my shop because I firmly believe they can cause clogged ducts which lead to mastitis and can be incredibly unpleasant to downright agonizing.  I suggest you do yourself a favor and avoid underwire bras while you are nursing, and especially during the first three months.

My favorite nursing bras:


Best molded cup bra:  Cake Toffee Molded Cup Bra.  This bra is soft, amazing and convertible.  It offers the shaping of an underwire without the underwire.


Best soft cup bra:  Bravado Sublime Nursing Bra, or if you don’t like embellishment then


the Bravado Body Silk nursing bra.  The Body Silk is also great for yoga or the gym.


Best fancy bra: You! Lingerie Rumi Noir.  You! Lingerie is definitely a value brand.  While their quality is not on par with Cake, Bravado or Hot Milk, I still recommend this bra.  Why?  Because it looks amazing, and that is something Motherhood bras simply do not do.  Fit tip:  This brand runs SMALL and they jump straight from D to E.  Size up in both the band and the cup.  For example, if you wear a 36DD most of the time, try a 38F in this brand.

Bravado Nursing Tank

Best tank:  Bravado nursing tank.  Yes it seems spendy for a tank top, but it’s so much more than a simple tank.  It has a built in nursing bra that fits and supports, and if you nurse in public and wear a shirt over it then you don’t need to expose your tummy to the prying eyes of the public.  Unless you’re a much more together woman than I, you will want to live in one of these and yoga pants for the first six months of your baby’s life.  I recommend getting one in black, one in white and a fun color.

And finally, if you love your regular bra and don’t want a maternity bra, Nordstrom will convert it!

And I do have a few (very few) nursing bras left over from when I owned that shop, if you’d like to; take a look around my eBay store.

Do you have more questions?  Talk to me in comments!


About Kelley

Hi! I'm Kelley. Real foodie and crunchy mom to a teenager and a toddler. My husband and I live in Southern California.


  1. This is great! I’m 18 weeks pregnant with my first baby and have been completely overwhelmed with the little bit I’ve read about nursing bras. This makes everything seem much simpler. I will share on Facebook and Pinterest.