Maternity Bras 101: A Beginner's Guide

Maternity Bras 101: A Beginner's Guide

With nearly four million new mamas this year, it's no surprise that we're brushing up on our maternity bra knowledge. 

Knowing the different bras available helps you make the right choice and ensure you're comfortable during your pregnancy. If not, you won't give the girls the necessary support and you'll end up feeling restricted. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the world of maternity bras, you've come to the right place. 

Why Can't I Wear My Mainstream Bra?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty, we'll give you the low-down on pregnancy and bras. You may wonder "Why can't I wear my regular bra during my pregnancy journey?"

The main reason is that your breasts will become larger and your regular bra will feel uncomfortable. During your pregnancy, your rib cage will expand and the bra's elasticity won't be strong enough to support your growing breasts. Also, regular bras have a hard underwire that can cause chafing and block your milk ducts. 

What Is the Difference Between Nursing and Maternity Bras?

Many expecting women make the mistake of choosing a nursing bra over a maternity one. Note, maternity bras are designed for mothers-to-be while nursing bras are for when your little one has arrived. As the name suggests, this style makes it easier to breastfeed. 

How Do Maternity Bras Help?

The beauty of wearing maternity bras is how they give you the ultimate support and comfort during your pregancy.  They are made with a stretchy material in the cup, this way they can strech with you as you grow in size.  Usually, you'll want to fit your maternity bra perfectly on the middle hook, so as your rib cage grows you can adjust the bra to the looser hook if needed. Sometimes if you are wearing this bra often it will stretch out. The tighter hook is avalble so you can make it tighter inorder to keep the support around your rib cage and instead of relying on your straps to do all of the work. Most maternity bras will also have fuller coverage as well. 

When to Get Your First Maternity Bra

Although there isn't a set timeframe, many women feel their breasts become tender and larger within five to six weeks of their pregnancy, which is long before their bump blooms. But in some cases, women won't see a difference in size until later on, so go with how you and your breasts feel. 

During the first trimester, women may notice that their breasts have swelled and are tender. Although it isn't necessary to slip into your maternity bra at this stage, you'll notice that the straps or underwire of your mainstream bra may dig in. You don't want your skin to feel restricted or irritated so investing in a soft fabric bra is a must. 

In the second trimester, between weeks 13 and 26, your under-bust  and cup size will increase. On average, customers who are around 15-17 weeks will come in for a bra fitting due to being so uncomforatable in their old bras. At Bella Bra Shop, we'll be able to get you in a comfotable bra that will hopefully last you untill your thrid trimester. We recommend 2-3 bras so you can rotate them and they won't stretch out too quickly.

When you reach the third trimester, weeks 27 to 42, it's critical that you're wearing a maternity bra so that you feel comfortable and are well-supported. You may also notice that your breasts will grow heavier and larger at a faster rate compared to before.   At this stage we recomend only 1-2 bras.

What to Look For in Maternity Bras

With so many gorgeous maternity bra styles, knowing what to look for can be overwhelming. 

One of the top maternity bra features is the material. You want a soft, stretchy fabric to accommodate breast size changes. This not only helps with comfort but also being able to continully wear it as you go through any other changes. 

You should check that the design has a band under the bust for extra support. Make sure that it feels snug, otherwise, it could affect your posture and result in headaches.  You still want 90% of your support in the band around your rib cage, and only 10% coming from your straps. You do not want to strain your neck and shoulder muscle as well. 

How to Fit a Maternity Bra

We all know the struggle of fitting mainstream bras, let alone maternity ones.

First, ask a friend or family member to use a tape measure to find your underbust measurement. Make sure that the tape is level so that it's accurate. Next, determine your cup size by measuring over the fullest part of your breast and use these to compare different bra sizes. We always strongly recomended going to your local bra boutique store and let a expert help you find the right size. Measurements are not always accurate. 

The key is trying on the maternity bra to check that it's comfortable. Ideally, re-measure yourself every two months or whenever your breasts aren't fitting comfortably in the cup. Don't feel alarmed if you have multiple because everybody develops at a different rate. 

Also, many women find that once they've developed a breastfeeding routine, around six weeks to three months, they may want to try an underwire if it doesn't put pressure on the breasts. 

On average, you'll need three to four maternity bras while you arepregnant and three to four nursing bras after you give birth. Washing them often if very important, especially while you are nursing. Bacteria can get build up into the cup of the bra and pass on to your child while feeding. 

Common Fit Issues to Avoid

One of the most common issues is that the bra's back band is too tight or loose. The same goes with the straps, so experiment with different sizes until you're 100% comfortable. You should also test different cup sizes because you don't want to restrict the breast tissue or have a large gap that doesn't cover your breasts. Extenders come in really handy if your bra band feels too tight. 

If you're struggling to find the perfect bra, get professionally fitted instead. 

Our Masterclass In Maternity Bras

Now you're an expert on maternity bras, it's time to prepare your wardrobe. 

Investing in a maternity bra is key to being comfortable and getting sufficient support for your changing body. You should also choose one made from soft fabric and check that the straps don't dig into your skin. Happy shopping!

If you're after stylish yet comfortable maternity bras, we've got you covered. Browse our collection here

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