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When your breasts start growing, from about the fifth month of pregnancy or even before, you'll need a bigger bra, though you may be able to make do for a while by using simple extenders to increase the chest size of your existing bras.
You'll need several bras when breastfeeding, because they'll require frequent washing, especially early on when you're bound to leak. Some people think cotton 'breathes' better than synthetic fabrics. It's important to wear a bra which supports and fits well yet doesn't squash your breasts or nipples. Remember that you will need to fit breast pads inside the bra, so remember to allow for this when trying them on. The best breast pads are those without plastic backing as they can become hot and sticky. 100% cotton is the best and most absorbent material. You can choose from reusable washable ones or disposables.
Many women wear an ordinary bra and either undo it or pull it up or down to breastfeed; only 40% of breastfeeding women wear a special bra. Pulling the cup down to free the breast works well if the bra is not too built up, but make sure it supports you well enough, is large enough and doesn't squash any part of the breast when pulled down - as this could lead to a blocked duct. If you have small breasts, you may not need a bra at all. During pregnancy and breastfeeding it is advisable not to wear under wired bras as these could restrict the breast tissue, leading to blocked ducts.
If you buy a nursing bra, note that they can have drop-down cups or zipped cups. Drop-down cups are easiest to use, but go for ones with one hook per cup, rather than rows of tiny hooks and eyes which make frequent feeds difficult and are awkward to do up and undo discreetly in company. The NCT Maternity Sales catalogue has a good selection. Choose bras no earlier than around 36 weeks of pregnancy, or if possible wait until after your baby is born, so they fit well.
Wearing A Bra At NightPregnancy is a time to be especially careful about looking after your breasts. It's sensible to wear a bra in bed during the last three months of pregnancy to support your increasingly heavy breasts and help prevent your skin stretching. Maternity bras sold as sleep bras are usually too insubstantial to provide much support.
Dr. Penny Stanway
Buy Dr. Penny Stanway's Book 'Breast Is Best' Here
Bras4Mums are good specialist feeding bra fitters