Maternity bras: staying supported

Your breasts can begin swelling at any time during your pregnancy in preparation for breastfeeding. And as they do, you’ll want the better fitting and more supportive undergarments to keep you comfortable.

What is a maternity bra?

Maternity bras are different from fashion bras in that they are made of a softer cotton material, have wider straps, and have additional closures on the band to adjust as you grow. Most maternity bras don’t have underwire to ensure that they don’t pinch your chest or abdomen.

Experts warn against simply going up a size or two in fashion bras, since they don’t offer the best support for rapidly growing breasts. Nursing bras have the same design and construction as maternity bras, with additional panels and closure over the nipples for breastfeeding.

Buying maternity bras

Maternity bras can be pricey, but you might want to splurge for this extra comfort since your breasts will not only be bigger, but also more sensitive and sore. And if you outgrow your first one, that doesn’t mean you should buy maternity bras with room to spare--search for the best fit at every stage of your pregnancy and keep a few options to cycle through.

Getting the right fit

Most maternity stores have professional bra fitters that can oversee your size choices. Never walk out of the store without trying on your selections, since even the same size in different models have unique fits. It is very important to choose the best fit not only for your own comfort, but also to minimize pressure on your milk ducts.

A properly fitting maternity bra should have nothing “spilling out” and a level band so that it doesn’t ride up. Don’t forget that in addition to your breasts growing, your rib cage will expand as well, so be prepared to purchase different sizes.

Maternity bras might seem superfluous now, but they are designed to keep you as comfortable as possible. They can also help prevent issues with breastfeeding down the line, so they are definitely a worthwhile investment.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
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