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What Is A Nursing Bra? The Ultimate Guide for Breastfeeding Moms

What Is A Nursing Bra? The Ultimate Guide for Breastfeeding Moms

The right nursing bra can make breastfeeding your baby much more comfortable and efficient, while still providing gentle support.

A nursing bra is specifically designed to support the changing needs of breastfeeding mothers. Nursing bras feature convenient clasps or panels that allow easy access for breastfeeding or pumping. Most women find that wearing a nursing bra makes them feel more comfortable throughout their breastfeeding journey.

What Are the Benefits of Nursing Bras?

Nursing bras offer several benefits specific to the unique needs of breastfeeding mamas. Some of the most significant advantages of nursing bras include:

  1. Support: Nursing bras help alleviate discomfort and can promote better posture and minimize back or neck pain as your body changes.  
  2. Easier feeds: The accessibility of nursing bras simplifies the breastfeeding process, allowing you to nurse your baby discreetly and comfortably in any setting.
  3. Adaptability: Breast size fluctuates during pregnancy and breastfeeding; nursing bras provide flexibility and adjustability to accommodate these changes. This can also help reduce the risk of mastitis, a painful inflammation of the breast tissue.
  4. Leakage protection: Nursing bras often come with built-in pockets or pads to absorb breast milk leakage, helping keep clothing dry and preventing stains.
  5. Long-term use. Many nursing bras are transition pieces, lasting from pregnancy through your breastfeeding days (and nights). 
Nest Bump nursing bra

What are the Types of Nursing Bras?

Nursing bras come in various styles to suit different preferences, comfort levels, and body types. Below are some common types of nursing bras.

Seamless Nursing Bras

These bras are designed without seams, offering a smooth and comfortable fit while also being flexible to wear as breast size fluctuates.

Underwire Nursing Bras 

Underwire nursing bras feature a supportive wire beneath the cups, providing extra lift and shaping. This style is a little controversial, as ill-fitting nursing bras with underwires may put pressure on the edges of milk ducts, which may lead to blockages.

Sleep Nursing Bras 

Sleep nursing bras are designed for nighttime comfort. They offer gentle support without compromising on softness. They often feature a stretchy, non-restrictive fabric that accommodates breast size fluctuations.

Sports Nursing Bras

These bras are for mamas who want support and comfort during exercise or other physical activities. They often feature moisture-wicking fabrics and additional support features like adjustable straps and wide bands.

Clip-Down Nursing Bras

This nursing bra style features clips or snaps on the straps or cups, allowing easy access for breastfeeding or pumping. 

Pumping Bras

Pumping bras allow for hands-free pumping. They often feature a supportive structure that holds pump flanges in place so you don’t have to.

The Nest Bump Women's Nursing Bra takes the best qualities of several types of nursing bras. It combines them into an undergarment perfect for going out, lounging, or being active. This style is made for cute comfort, accommodates breast size fluctuation, and features a cross-front design that pulls to the side for easy breastfeeding access (no snaps required).

Nest Bump nursing bra

What Are the Types of Nursing Clothes?

Nursing tops and dresses with built-in bras offer added convenience for breastfeeding on the go. Certain nursing garments can be used without a nursing bra, while others enable easier access to the bra beneath for breastfeeding and pumping.

The Nest Designs Bump Collection features stylish and eco-conscious nursing attire, including:

Read our article, A Personal Stylist’s 3 Tips for Postpartum Style, to discover ways to stay fashionable in the early days of parenthood.

Nest Bump collection

How Many Nursing Bras Do You Need?

The number of nursing bras is specific to each individual. What you need depends on your lifestyle and preferences. As a general rule of thumb, having at least three to four nursing bras in rotation ensures you always have a clean and comfortable option on hand.

What is the Difference Between a Nursing and Maternity Bra?

While both nursing and maternity bras cater to the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, they serve distinct purposes. Maternity bras accommodate your changing shape during pregnancy, offering extra support and comfort. In contrast, nursing bras feature breastfeeding-friendly features such as drop-down cups or clips for easy access; maternity bras may lack these conveniences.

However, these bras are not always separate items. Some clothing manufacturers design their maternity bras to be worn during pregnancy. The Nest Designs nursing bra is an excellent example of a bra suitable for pre- and post-partum.

Can I Wear a Nursing Bra During Pregnancy?

While nursing bras are designed with breastfeeding in mind, they can be worn during pregnancy, too. Many women wear nursing bras during pregnancy because of their enhanced comfort. Nursing bras support the changing shape and size of the breasts during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They typically feature adjustable closures, removable padding, and adjustable sizing. If you wear a nursing bra during pregnancy, regularly assess the fit and adjust as needed.

Can I Use a Maternity Bra While Breastfeeding?

Not all maternity bras can serve as nursing bras. While maternity bras may provide temporary support during the early stages of breastfeeding, they lack the convenient features of nursing bras. Some mamas may continue using their maternity bras while breastfeeding, but they can be quite cumbersome when trying to feed a baby quickly.

Investing in a few quality nursing bras ensures you have the necessary support and functionality for breastfeeding.

Can I Use a Regular Bra While Breastfeeding?

Using a regular bra while breastfeeding may be uncomfortable. Regular bras lack the accessibility needed for convenient breastfeeding and, as there are size fluctuations, a regular bra is quite limiting.

Nursing bras come in several shapes, sizes, and types—there are options that are practical, cute, and comfortable. Having a nursing bra (or several) ensures you can feed your baby with ease while maintaining comfort and support.

Mother breastfeeding

When Should You Buy a Nursing Bra?

An excellent time to purchase nursing bras is during the third trimester (around the eight-month mark) or shortly before your due date. At this point, you’ve gone through the most significant physical changes, making it easier to purchase nursing bras that will fit properly postpartum.

Looking for advice on when to purchase maternity clothes? Check out our ultimate guide here.

What Size Nursing Bra Should You Buy?

Selecting the correct size nursing bra is essential for comfort and support. With the physical changes that come with pregnancy, it’s recommended that you get professionally fitted for a nursing bra. A well-fitting nursing bra should provide gentle support without digging into your skin or causing discomfort.

If being professionally fitted is not feasible, some online nursing bra size calculators can help approximate the size you need based on measurements you take at home (but make sure to try any bras on before you take off the tags!).

Features of a Well-Fitting Nursing Bra

  • The entire breast fits snugly in the cup without bulging.
  • The center front of the bra is flat against your body.
  • The bottom band remains flat and does not arch during movement.
  • The straps sit on your shoulders without slipping or digging in.
  • The straps do not carry the weight of your breasts.
Nest Bump nursing bra

Tips for Buying the Right Nursing Bra

When shopping for a nursing bra, make sure it fits, as outlined by the features above. Beyond fit, here are some things to consider when buying a nursing bra:

  • Prioritize comfort: Choose designs that offer the right support and will feel comfortable after all day or night wear.
  • Consider material: Breathable, healthy fabrics, like bamboo can help prevent issues such as itchiness, sensitivity, or feeling sweaty.
  • Assess functionality: Opt for nursing bras with convenient features such as adjustable straps or easily accessible nursing options, like a cross-front design.
  • Invest in quality: Choose nursing bras from reputable brands known for their quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.
  • Account for size fluctuations: Breast size may change throughout the day, so select nursing bras with some flexibility to accommodate these differences.
  • Become familiar with features: Practice opening the bra one-handed before baby is born so you can handle future feeds with finesse.

A Nursing Bra is a Gift to Your Future Self

Many mamas would agree that a quality nursing bra is a game-changer for baby feeding. Breastfeeding is a time for you to bond with your baby, and the best nursing bra can make this moment easier and lead to peaceful feeding sessions for you and your little bub.

Shop the Nest Bump collection today for foundational maternity pieces.