A Good Breastfeeding Bra
It's really important when buying new bras for pregnancy and/or breastfeeding that you get the 'right support'.
When your breasts start growing, from about the fourth month of pregnancy or even before, you'll need a bigger bra, though some women make do for a while by using simple extenders to increase the size of existing bras. Pregnancy 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 boobs and to help prevent your skin stretching. Maternity bras sold as sleep bras are often too insubstantial to provide much support.
A Good BreastFeeding BraYou'll need a few bras when breastfeeding, because they'll require frequent washing, particularly in the early stages when you're bound to leak. It's important to wear a bra which fits you properly and gives you good support as you don't want your breasts or nipples to be squashed. When you are deciding what size breastfeeding bra to buy, remember that you will need to fit breast pads inside the bra, so 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 and you can choose from reusable washable breast pads or disposables.
Some women choose to wear an ordinary bra and either undo it or pull it up or down to breastfeed; believe it or not only 40% of breastfeeding women wear a special bra! Pulling the cup down to free the breast can work but you have to remember to make sure it doesn't squash any part of the breast when pulled down - as this could lead to a blocked duct. During pregnancy and breastfeeding it is advisable not to wear under-wired bras at all as these could restrict the tissue in the breasts, leading to blocked ducts.
If you buy a nursing bra and personally I recommend you do, note that they can have drop-down cups or zipped cups. Drop-down cups are by far the easiest to use, but go for bras with one hook per cup, rather than loads of tiny hooks and eyes which make frequent feeds difficult and are awkward to undo and do up discreetly when out and about. It's probably better to wait until you're at least 36 weeks pregnant, or even better wait until after your baby has been born, before buying your nursing bra. You'll get a better fit then! Properly fitting bras are vital while you are breastfeeding. You could be damaging your milk ducts or tissues around your breast, straining your back or neck, or even affecting your breathing if you don't have the right cup size and support straps.
Incidentally, there are plenty of glamorous nursing bras out there now, so yes you can still wear feminine and appealing bras. Comfortable and supportive does not necessarily mean 'granny' styles!
by Kathryn Crawford
Kathryn breastfed all her daughters exclusively until they were old enough to start on solids. She loved breastfeeding and fed them all for around 18 months.