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Though a baby bump takes months to start showing, breast changes occur almost immediately after becoming pregnant. The best nursing bras might not seem like an immediate need, but as your cup size begins to increase, you may find it more comfortable to switch out your bra. However, if you want to avoid buying multiple bras throughout pregnancy, opt for maternity bras that you can wear pre, during, and post-breastfeeding.
And by the time you’re in your third trimester, it’s definitely time to figure out which nursing bras will best suit your needs. Experts recommend having several different types of maternity bras in your repertoire, like comfortable bralettes and underwire styles, as well as the best sleep nursing bras and maternity sports bras. Also, no nursing bra collection would be complete without the best breastfeeding bra for pumping and other ultra-supportive designs, like the best plus-size breastfeeding bras.
What is a Nursing Bra
Nursing bras are an undergarment specifically designed to feed a baby directly or pump breast milk with convenient and comfortable features, like cups that either fold down or pull aside to give easy access to the breast, while at the same time maintaining bust support.
“Nursing bras often use soft, stretchy materials to allow for changing, tender breasts to be comfortable and supported throughout pregnancy and as you breastfeed,” says Erin Downing, senior merchant of intimate apparel at Marquee Brands, including A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood. Lori Caden, the co-founder of Belly Bandit, adds, “Many nursing bras can also be worn during pregnancy, either for sleep or for all-day wear.”
The primary difference between a nursing bra and a non-maternity bra is the design features that allow easy access to the breasts, typically through a pull-aside cup or a clasp release enabling the entire cup to fold down. “Nursing bras are typically constructed without underwires, both for comfort and to reduce the likelihood of clogged ducts caused by compressive wires,” explains Caden.
In addition, some maternity bras double as pumping bras, which often have a hidden slit to allow a breast pump flange to fit through the opening and sit securely against the breast. Many pumping bras are also compatible with hands-free, wearable pumps — a modern solution as women choose to breastfeed or pump while multitasking and on the go.
Over the years, nursing bras have seriously evolved, too. “Gone are the days when women had to sacrifice beauty or comfort in nursing,” says Jessica Pfister, vice president of Le Mystere. “Lightweight materials offer support, and many moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties are now incorporated into maternity bras.”
Other modern features include cups that mold to the body without bunching, extra rows of hook-and-eye closures for support, and leak-resistant materials, like highly-absorbent poly-cotton liners to help catch leaking breast milk. In addition, Downing points out additional aspects that address increases in body temperature during pregnancy and hot flashes postpartum. “We have bras with brrr° cooling fabric,” she tells WWD. “And for relief from engorgement and nursing pains, we have a postpartum recovery bra from Nyssa that includes moldable heat and ice packs.”
Top Nursing Bras of 2022
- Best Underwire Bra : Le Mystere Women’s Nursing Bra with Adjustable Straps
- Best Sports Bra: Kindred Bravely Sublime Support Low Impact Nursing and Maternity Sports Bra
- Best Bralette: Hofish 3-Pack Full Bust Seamless Nursing Maternity Bra
- Best Cross-Over Bra: Spanx Bra-llelujah! Mama Bra
- Best Bra for Large Busts: Elomi Smoothing Underwire Molded Nursing Bra
- Best Mesh Bra: On Gossamer Mesh Convertible Maternity Bra
- Best Racerback Bra: Kindred Bravely French Terry Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra for Maternity/Breastfeeding
- Best Wireless Bra: On Gossamer Next to Nothing Microfiber Wireless Nursing Bra
- Best Leak Proof Bra: Belly Bandit Leakproof Nursing Bra
- Best Lace Bra: Natori Bliss Perfection Wireless Nursing Bra
- Best 2-in-1 Nursing & Pumping Bra: A Pea in the Pod 2-in-1 Nursing and Pumping Bra for Wearable Pumps
- Best Foam Cup Bra: Chantelle Nursing Bra
- Best Convertible Bra: Cosabella Talco Maternity Nursing Bra
- Best Pumping Bra: Medela Easy Expression Large Bustier
- Best Tank: Storq Soft Touch Nursing Tank
The Different Types of Maternity Bras
There are many different types of maternity bras, including cotton and mesh styles, nursing bras to prevent sagging, nursing bralettes, underwire nursing bras, pumping and nursing bras, and strapless nursing bras. All three experts explain the benefits of each one. Plus, recommended styles for different activities, from at-home time with baby to nursing bras for work and activities outside the home.
- Seamless Nursing Bras: These are “your everyday go-to bra for extreme comfort,” says Pfister. They’re usually crafted from soft, breathable fabrics, which are helpful to prevent overheating during a nursing session. “It’s ideal for moms who want quick, no-fuss access, thanks to the one-hand clasp release,” says Caden. “The seamless fabric stretches and grows with you throughout pregnancy and is super comfortable, making it an obvious favorite,” Downing explains, adding how the majority of A Pea in the Pod’s maternity bras come in soft, comfortable fabrics. “Our seamless bras are our most popular selling fabrication and come in multiple fits and iterations.” Adding, “Our best-selling, most popular seamless bra silhouette has a three-prong back closure and flattering ruching in the front.”
- Nursing Bras with Clip-Down Straps: “One of our most popular nursing functions is our clip-down straps,” Downing tells WWD. “Nursing bra straps feature a clip that can be undone with one hand and pulled down. It’s supported with an inner sling in the cup and allows for easy access for breastfeeding.”
- Wireless Nursing Bras: “Wireless nursing bras sometimes have a foam cup for shape, support, and comfort and are available in a multitude of fabrications, including mesh and micro,” says Pfister. “This could serve as a great transition bra for when you begin to leave the house again.” Additionally, Downing says that nylon and spandex are common wireless nursing bras fabrications due to their stretchiness and the amount of ‘give’ they offer.
- Cross-Over Nursing Bras: Another popular nursing style is a cross-over design or surplice wrap style that easily pulls over to the side for nursing when you’re in a hurry. They’re ultra-comfortable in the earliest days of breastfeeding when you’re seeking a simple bra with easy access. “This bra often comes in a more casual silhouette for lounging or sleeping,” Downing explains. They’re also great for a seamless, minimalist look. “Our B.D.A. Bra is made from a stretch-and-recover fabric that allows it to expand during pregnancy, as mom’s body changes, then return to its original shape so it can be worn long after the baby has arrived,” Caden says.
- Underwire Nursing Bras: “A contour cup nursing bra will hide nursing pads and keep you looking smooth and supported, even in your PJs,” says Downing. Pfister adds, “With support comes comfort, as nursing breasts are extremely tender.” This type is very helpful for a fuller bust that needs additional support, plus it’s great for work or special occasions.
- Nursing Sports Bra: This one is a must-have “for the athletic mama,” says Pfister. These can be a clip-down silhouette or cross-over style with extra supportive bands for movement and most are made from quick-dry, moisture-wicking performance fabric. Caden says Belly Bandit’s Active Support Sports Bra is “perfect for workouts or moms who need extra compression and support.” Additionally, Downing says, “the Seamless Racerback Maternity and Nursing Bra is great for low to medium impact work-outs,” like yoga.
- Nursing Camisoles: “The nursing cami combines a shirt and bra all in one and is terrific for warm climates or summer nursing,” Pfister explains. “They’re great for those who want the ease of one multifunctional item.”
- Pumping Bras: “For moms who are pumping — to establish supply or just while at work — a nursing bra that doubles as a pumping bra can be a great investment,” says Caden. Typical elements include clip-down straps for nursing and functional cups designed to hold pump parts in place. “For moms who are exclusively pumping, a hands-free pumping bra can make life a lot easier,” Caden continues. “For moms using portable pumps that fit in the bra, a pump strap or bra strap extenders are great to have handy.” Downing says a 2-in-1 nursing and pumping bra is perfect for any wearable pumps. Seek out a style made with super soft fabric that holds a pump tightly in place — even better if it clips down for breastfeeding.
- Leak Proof Nursing Bra: Specifically designed to prevent leaks, these maternity bras are multi-layered with removable leak proof cups and an antimicrobial lining to help reduce odor. “It’s made with moisture-wicking, leak-resistant fabric that is ultra-thin, seamless under clothing, and incredibly comfortable,” Caden tells WWD. “It’s perfect for wearing under more form-fitting tops and dressier outfits.”
- Sleeping Nursing Bra: “During pregnancy, it’s helpful to have a sleep bra that offers support and extra comfort as breasts become tender,” says Caden. “A minimal design is great for this since it doesn’t have any clasps or snaps and feels like a second skin.” Similarly, Downing says maternity bras made with super soft fabrics with light support or coverage are best for sleeping or lounging at home. “We offer a super soft Modal Spandex option which is perfect for lounging and sleeping,” says the Marquee Brands merchant.
- Nursing Bra for Work: Downing suggests a seamless convertible clip-down nursing bra or a lightweight and wireless maternity bra to provide structure and extra coverage, support, and shaping while working.
- Special Occasion Nursing Bra: For an outfit that you want to feel special in, Downing recommends a lace nursing bralette with more style that doesn’t compromise structure, coverage, support, or shaping. “Lace is perfect for bralettes and making you feel like your normal, sexy self,” she says.
- Padded Nursing Bra: “Some bras have removable pads,” says Downing. These can be beneficial for leak protection, too.
- Convertible Nursing Bra: “Some bras provide adjustable and convertible straps to maximize comfort and fit,” says Downing.
- Nursing Bra for Disabilities or Intense Discomfort: Soft, supportive, and stretchy nursing bras are best for anyone with a disability or those who deal with intense discomforts.
What to Look for in the Best Nursing Bras
Follow these expert tips when shopping for the best nursing bras:
- Find a bra that has an easy one-hand pull-down clip. “It will make feedings a snap,” says Pfister.
- Ease of nursing is crucial. Downing says to ask yourself, “How easily can I get a boob out?”
- Seek out a nursing bra with three or more rows of hook-and-eyes in the back. “This will ensure a good fit as your milk ebbs and flows,” Pfister says.
- Find a supportive nursing bra. “You determine how much coverage you need or want, but you want your boobs to be supported,” Downing says. “This will support breast tissue, prevent stretching, and ensure comfort.”
- Look for a bra with a poly-cotton lining on the cup. “This will help to absorb any leakage and will be super soft against your chafed skin,” Pfister explains.
- Prioritize comfort. “You want something soft and stretchy that feels like it can grow with you,” Downing says.
- Find a nursing bra comfortable enough to sleep in. “You will need the support,” Pfister insists.
- Find a confidence-boosting nursing bra. “Feeling good and looking good is so important to maintain balance as a new mom,” says Pfister.
- Purchase at least three nursing bras. “Leaks happen, and you’ll always want a spare easily on hand,” Pfister advises. Downing suggests buying a minimum of four nursing bras: One to wear, one to wash, one to sleep, and one to have on standby. “You will always need extra bras on hand,” she tells WWD. “You leak on them, babies spit-up on them and you may find yourself needing to wash multiples per day. It’s always good to have extra ready. Plus, depending on the activities you’ll be doing throughout your time nursing or pumping, you may need different types of bras — everyday bras, sleep bras, structured bras, workout bras, and pump bras.”
- Get measured regularly. “Keep in mind your boobs will be tender and constantly fluctuating in size,” Downing says. “It’s important to measure yourself regularly throughout your pregnancy and postpartum while nursing to ensure you are wearing the correct size bra.”
Questions to Ask Yourself When Shopping for a Nursing Bra
Style and comfort are a matter of opinion and preference. As such, Downing confirms that there are several questions to ask yourself when searching for a maternity bra to ensure that you’re selecting exactly the type that best suits your priorities.
- How much support do you want or need?
- Are your breasts newly tender, and do you feel you need more comfort than usual?
- Will you wear this bra before and after nursing? If so, Downing says that “some bras, like our Mesh Trim Wrap Bra, will be a go-to long after your breastfeeding journey is over.”
- Do you like underwire or wireless bras that offer extra shape and support, or do you prefer easy bralettes?
- What activities will you be doing while breastfeeding or pumping? Will you mostly be at home, running errands, going back to work, working out, or outside the house?
- How much coverage do you prefer? Do you want pads? If so, do you want to be able to remove them?
- Do you like seamless, silky synthetics, or lace fabrics best?
Without further ado, check out the best nursing bras below.
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Le Mystere Women’s Nursing Bra with Adjustable Straps
Best Underwire Nursing Bra
- Size range: 32-40 band, B-G cup
- Fabric: 73% nylon, 27% spandex
- Features: Clip-down, lace, contour underwire, padding
This lace clip-down nursing bra is one of the prettiest options on the list, featuring a contour underwire, light padding, and five-row hook-and-eye closure. “As a favorite of Ashley Graham, the sexy mama is all that and more,” Pfister tells WWD. “Available in sizes B to G, this gorgeous style supports tender breasts beautifully and has great fit flexible features that ebb and flow with your milk production.” It has over 400 Amazon reviews, too. One reviewer says, “this is my absolute favorite nursing bra. I love the padding (I prefer padded bras), love the fabulous lift that I get, and love the way it makes me feel in my clothing.”
Kindred Bravely Sublime Support Low Impact Nursing and Maternity Sports Bra
Best Nursing Sports Bra
- Size range: S – 3XL
- Fabric: 54% nylon, 37% polyester, 9% spandex
- Features: Wireless, clip-down, pull-on style, racerback
This maternity sports bra features a racerback and adjustable clip-down straps, whether for low-impact workouts or a comfortable feel. Pfister says, “This is an awesome sports nursing bra in a million colors which is super soft, easy pull-on, and size-inclusive.” The effortless pull-on style is smooth and comfortable, designed without hooks, snaps, or metal.
“Perfect nursing sports bra! I’m expecting my third child and skimped on my nursing bras with the first two. After realizing that you end up wearing a nursing bra for most of your pregnancy and almost two years after to actually nurse, I decided to invest this time,” says raves one Amazon reviewer. “The coverage is full, even under the armpit without irritating it,” she continues. Adding, “I wish I had invested in these the first time! Buy this, you won’t regret it.”
Hofish 3-Pack Full Bust Seamless Nursing Maternity Bra
Best Nursing Bralette
- Size range: S – XXL
- Fabric: 100% breathable buttery-soft fabric
- Features: Seamless, wireless, 3-pack, removable cups
Hofish’s three-pack of ultra-soft, seamless nursing bras features full coverage with a one-hand clip-down design with removable molded foam cups for maximum comfort and support. The soft design will adapt as breast size fluctuates. Plus, it has adjustable shoulder straps and hook-and-eye closure. “Hands down the best value on the market,” says Pfister. “These three packs of seamless bras are soft, comfortable, and supportive—I definitely lived in these long after my nursing bra days were over.”
Not to mention, it has over 30,000 reviews on Amazon, including this one from a superfan who says, “I really like these bras. I have been wearing them every day and sleeping in them for six weeks now. I have washed them a lot, and they hold up well. I also really like the removable cup because it’s soft enough to fold down when you’re nursing, but it’s thick enough to hide your always-hard nipples and crinkly nursing pads. Another great thing they come with is the bra extenders. Your chest opens up, and your band size gets larger, so it’s nice for the extenders to give you that wiggle room. No one wants back fat bulges. The support factor is pretty good for a nursing bra too. I have worn several other nursing bras as I nursed the first baby for two years.”
Spanx Bra-llelujah! Mama Bra
Best Cross-Over Bra
- Size range: XS-XL
- Fabric: 72% nylon, 28% elastane
- Features: Cross-over, clip-down, adjustable racerback straps, four-way stretch fabric
Spanx’s cross-over maternity bra is a fan favorite for comfort and easy nursing. What’s more, the comfortable design is great if you’re going to invest in a nursing bra before breastfeeding begins and wear it during pregnancy. It’s crafted from soft, brushed fabric that feels soft against sensitive skin with a four-way stretch that easily accommodates fluctuating breasts. Additional features include clip-down cups, racerback straps, and removable pads with pockets. A reviewer says, “I’m always concerned when I buy nursing bras that they will be too rough on the nipple after feeding, but this one is incredibly soft and comfortable! I’m normally a 34C and bought a size medium which fits perfectly. I would definitely buy more and recommend to friends.”
Elomi Smoothing Underwire Molded Nursing Bra
Best Nursing Bra for Large Breasts
- Size range: 34-48 band, DD-GG cup
- Fabric: 91% polyester, 6% nylon, 3% elastane
- Features: Underwire, seamless cups, clip-down, slip-free straps
“Elomi’s Smoothing Underwire Molded Nursing Bra is a UK-sized bra with seam-free cups and a flexible underwire for that extra comfort and support that is so helpful to nursing moms,” Pfister tells WWD. It’s ideal for large bust sizes, ranging from 34 to 48 band sizes and DD to GG cups. It also features a powernet back, slip-free straps, and a full circle sling in the cups for extra smoothing and superior support. The clip-down design is complete with hook-and-eye closure.
An Amazon reviewer says, “I seriously almost cried when I put this bra on. It is hands-down the best-fitting nursing bra I have tried. I had a large chest before, but pregnancy has made its attempt to break world records, currently clocking in at a G cup (that’s an American H/I cup). It doesn’t have a seam right across the center of your boob, and when you fold down the front, the interior bands actually support the breast all the way around. A miracle. This is the only bra I’ve found capable of such a feat. It has a nice, non-granny shape under clothes and was thick enough that breast pads don’t seem to show too badly.”
On Gossamer Next to Nothing Micro Wireless Nursing Bra
Best Wireless Nursing Bra
- Size range: 32-38 band, B-DD cup
- Fabric: 74% nylon, 26% spandex
- Features: Wireless, clip-down, adjustable straps
This lightweight, wireless, clip-down nursing bra from On Gossamer offers everyday flexibility and comfort thanks to its narrow straps and weightless four-way-stretch fabric. “The lightly molded cups and side slings help to give you shape and nipple coverage,” says Pfister. “It’s a sophisticated and chic style that doesn’t look like a typical nursing bra but has all of the important features.” Arielle Siboni, the ready-to-wear fashion director at Bloomingdale’s, adds that “this is an essential nursing bra and an easy option to wear under t-shirts. It’s also wire-free, making it truly comfortable.
Kindred Bravely French Terry Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra for Maternity/Breastfeeding
Best Racerback Nursing Bra
- Size range: XS – XXL
- Fabric: 92% rayon, 8% spandex
- Features: Wireless, pull-on style, cross-over, racerback
With over 5,600 Amazon reviews, this is another Kindred Bravely nursing bra designed for plenty of comfort. “For the newbie nurser, I highly recommend these for the early days as there is nothing softer,” says Pfister. “With little support, this bra goes on super easy, and with little to no sleep, there’s no fumbling in the dark getting used to clips. Also, this is a great side feeding option.” The pull-on style features a cross-over design and comes in eight colors. As an Amazon reviewer says, “This bra exceeded my expectations! First of all, it is so soft! Omg, I want everything I wear to be made of this material! It’s quality material too, thick and sturdy but baby soft.”
On Gossamer Mesh Convertible Maternity Bra
Best Mesh Nursing Bra
- Size range: 32-36 band, B-DD cup
- Fabric: Nylon
- Features: Two-way stretch mesh, clip-down, underwire
For an underwire nursing bra that closely resembles your regular favorites, this On Gossamer style features two-way stretch cups with an Italian mesh overlay, an inner mesh sling, and a one-hand pull-down clasp at the top of the cups. You’re guaranteed a secure fit with the hook-and-eye closure and an elasticized band, too. “What I love about this bra is that it’s versatile,” says Siboni. “It has adjustable straps that convert to wide or narrow standard wear, and you can also criss-cross them.”
Belly Bandit Leak Proof Nursing Bra
Best Leakproof Nursing Bra
- Size range: S – XL
- Fabric: absorbent moisture-wicking lining, antimicrobial fabric lining helps reduce odor
- Features: Wireless and seamless, clip-down, reinforced under bust for better support, wide adjustable straps,
“Our Leakproof Nursing Bra is the first of its kind: Soft, breathable, and designed with multi-layered leak proof cups for the ultimate in leak protection,” Caden tells WWD. “It’s a wire-free style with moisture-wicking and leak-resistant fabric, as well as leak proof pads that catch even the heaviest of leaks. It pulls moisture away from your body to help keep you comfortable and dry day and night and can help with nipple cracking and chafing. The adjustable straps, one-hand clip-down nursing access, and flattering scoop neck make it the perfect option for nursing moms.”
Natori Bliss Perfection Wireless Nursing Bra
Best Lace Nursing Bra
- Size range: 32-36 band, B-DDD cup
- Fabric: Nylon, spandex, cotton, polyester
- Features: Wireless, clip-down, lace, adjustable straps, elastic band
For a nursing bra that feels as elegant as the pretty designs you wore pre-pregnancy, this Natori design is a must-try. It features wireless cups with clip-down flaps for easy-access nursing. Plus, adjustable straps, hook-and-eye closure, and an elasticized band. “This wireless bra has pretty lace detailing, which gives it a nice touch,” says Siboni. “It’s still comfortable, which is the main factor to consider when looking for a nursing bra.” Reviewer Andrea adds, “It’s a very comfortable bra and can be used throughout pregnancy until lactation.”
A Pea in the Pod 2-in-1 Nursing and Pumping Bra for Wearable Pumps
Best 2-in-1 Nursing & Pumping Bra
- Size range: S – XL
- Fabric: stretch fabric
- Features: Seamless, wireless, clip-down, dual function for nursing and pumping
“This bra is perfect for nursing and pumping,” says Downing. “If you own a wearable pump, this bra is for you. It snugly holds any wearable pump to optimize every pumping session. The microfiber fabric is soft and comfortable, and the bra also clips down for easy nursing. In addition, this bra is FSA/HSA eligible for insurance reimbursement.” Additional features include slight compression for support, stretchy fabric to accommodate breast size fluctuation, a comfortable wireless design, adjustable straps and a hook-and-eye closure.
Chantelle Nursing Bra
Best Foam Cup Nursing Bra
- Size range: 32-38 band, C-G cup
- Fabric: Polyamide, spandex, polyester
- Features: Foam cups, underwire, clip-down, adjustable straps
Chantelle’s full-coverage maternity bra comes in black and beige, featuring spacer foam underwire cups for those who like a little padding. For easy nursing, it has a clip-down silhouette, plus adjustable straps, hook-and-eye closure, and an elasticized band. “This is a personal favorite of mine as it’s pretty and fits well,” Siboni tells WWD. “It also comes in F and G cups, so it’s great for a woman with a bigger bust.”
Cosabella Talco Maternity Nursing Bra
Best Convertible Nursing Bra
- Size range: S – XL
- Fabric: Viscose, polyamide, cotton, elastane
- Features: Wireless, clip-down, adjustable straps, elasticized band
Cosabella’s cotton-blend nursing bra comes in black, beige, and pink, featuring a stylish minimal look. “If comfort is your main goal, then this nursing bra is the perfect one,” says Siboni. It has soft wireless cups with an inner sling for extra support and pull-down clips for fast nursing. Adjustable convertible straps, hook-and-eye closure, and an elasticized band add to the comfortable fit that’s versatile for wearing at home with loungewear or various outfits from t-shirts and leggings to dresses.
One Bloomingdale’s reviewer says, “I tried on a few maternity/nursing bras, and they really weren’t very comfortable. Not the case here. This feels like you’re not wearing a bra, and it’s soft and comfortable to have on. It’s not the most supportive bra I’ve ever owned, but it has enough structure that you still look like you have a bra on. I bought this in both the nude and black colors and had to size up by a size.”
Medela Easy Expression Large Bustier
Best Pumping Bra
- Size range: S – L
- Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% spandex
- Features: Zip closure, reinforced silhouette, designed for hands-free pumping
This best-selling Medela bra is compatible with all Medela breast pumps and explicitly designed for easy, hands-free pumping. It features adaptive stretch technology with reinforced openings for superior no-slip support. The contouring stretch fabric retains its shape wear after wear and wash after wash, with an easy on-and-off front zip closure with a top hook. A BuyBuyBaby review says, “I got this as a baby shower gift, and man, it has been a serious lifesaver. I have a double breast pump, so prior to having this pumping bra, I was having to hold both pumps to my breast for the entire 20 to 30 minutes I would pump. Now I can relax, interact with the baby, or just simply scroll on my phone. Time goes by much quicker while pumping. Get this for yourself; you won’t regret it.”
Storq Soft Touch Nursing Tank
Best Nursing Tank
- Size range: XS-XL
- Fabric: 90% modal, 10% spandex
- Features: Tank design, clip-down, shelf bra, stretch
A nursing tank is great for those seeking more coverage or the flexibility of wearing a single piece rather than a bra and shirt. In other words, it looks like real clothes with a scooped neckline. It’s designed for postpartum, featuring a slightly shorter length that stretches over a recovering body; however, it’s not meant to cover a fully pregnant belly. Storq’s fabric is super soft, made from a stretch modal, featuring a shelf bra and clip-down straps for easy-access nursing. Coming in five versatile colors, you might want to stock up on one of each for layering or wearing on its own when you’re warm. Oh, and it’s tag-free, another pro for major comfort.
How to Ensure Your Nursing Bra Fits Correctly
Pfister says a bra fitting is one of the best hacks for nursing bras. “During your pregnancy, your breasts will change, getting firmer, more tender, and considerably fuller as they fill with milk. Having a proper bra fitting will not only ensure that you look like a gorgeous new mama to be, but this will also keep your breasts supported to ensure comfort from the extra weight of the milk.”
Fit checkpoints for nursing bras:
- Tops of the cups should contain breasts without bulging or gaping. If bulging occurs, the cup is too small, or your straps are too tight.
- Underwire should follow the perimeter of the breast tissue and rest on the ribcage.
- Bra bands should hug firmly around the body, anchoring the bra cup and underwire in place. A bra band should also fit horizontally across the back; if it rides up in the center, this indicates that the weight of the breasts is pulling the back of the band up, and the band is too large. In this scenario, you may need to go down a band size.
- The center front should lie flat, tacking close to the breastbone.
- If your straps are correctly adjusted, you should only fit two fingers under the strap.
Timing is another essential element. “I suggest that you purchase your nursing bras late in your third trimester — the ninth month if possible — and buy them with a little extra room in the cup to allow for additional milk to flow in once you give birth,” advises Pfister.
Capitalizing on insurance is Downing’s biggest hack. “Get your health insurance to pay for your breast pump, accessories, and pump bras,” says the Marquee brands merchant. “Our 2-in-1 Nursing & Pumping Bra for Wearable Pumps is FSA/HSA approved, so if you have an FSA or HSA plan, you can submit to that plan for reimbursement.”
The Best Way to Wash Your Nursing Bra
When laundry time comes, every nursing bra is different. “Depending on the fabric, some can be thrown in the washing machine, while others are more delicate and should be hand-washed,” says Downing. “To extend the life of your bra, hand-washing is usually best.” Similarly, Pfister says, “I typically recommend hand-washing for all bras, but let’s be honest, new moms should use any extra time on self-care.”
To wash a bra by hand, Downing says to clean off any stains with a mild detergent and warm water, then submerge in water and soak, making sure to work the detergent into the bra, then rinse. Finally, lay flat on a towel to absorb excess moisture while drying, or Caden says you can hang dry.
“We get it! Moms are busy, and sometimes you need to use the washing machine,” Downing continues. When machine washing, make sure the hooks and eyes are hooked to avoid pulls and snags, put your bra in a lingerie bag, and wash on a gentle cold cycle. Pfister notes how cool water and a gentle cycle are essential to not break down the elasticity of your nursing bra from prolonged exposure to heat.
All three experts recommend gentle detergent for machine washing. “I always washed my nursing bras along with my babies’ clothes in a gentle detergent,” says Pfister. “Babies are close to your bra for much of the day, and many of them have sensitive skin.” Adding, “I love The Laundress products in general but also specifically for nursing bras for two reasons. They’re gentle on your clothes and gentle for the baby. You can also soak bras with significant leak stains to keep them fresh and get the stains out.”
When machine washing, always skip the dryer and lay flat or hang to dry. “Your bras are going to get dirty through the process of feeding, pumping, and nursing,” Downing continues. “Even more reason to ensure you always have at least four on hand.”
Meet the Experts
Lori Caden is the co-founder of Belly Bandit, a brand that supports mamas through every stage via products for pregnancy and postpartum.
Jessica Pfister serves as the vice president of Le Mystere, a line of intimates so popular that one of their bras made Oprah’s Favorite Things list.