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how nursing bras work

It’s no secret that your breasts go through a multitude of changes throughout the phases of pregnancy — and those changes continue throughout the breastfeeding process. Not only that, but nursing means you’re going to need easy access to your breasts. The bottom line? Your regular bras likely just won’t do. That’s where nursing bras come in: They’re specially designed to make breastfeeding a more comfortable, convenient experience. So, how do they work?

Read on for everything you need to know about these handy little undergarments.

How nursing bras work

The major advantage to nursing bras is that they allow you to breastfeed discreetly. This is because their cups contain flaps which you can easily open and close, thus allowing your baby to nurse without having to remove your bra. These bras also contain an inner sling to keep the shoulder strap in place when you fold the cup down and begin nursing. Some nursing bras contain removable padding inserts which can be helpful if you’re worried about leaking, plus add some extra nipple coverage and shaping benefits.

Finding the right style

Best of all, nursing bras are available in a range of styles, from soft-cup and underwire options to plunge, contour and sports bras. That means you’re sure to find a nursing bra (or three) that fit your lifestyle. You don’t even have to compromise your style, as many nursing bras come with lace cups, bows, and other feminine details. Nursing bras are not for every woman, of course — it’s a matter of personal preference. Some may prefer to stick with their tried-and-true full-cup bras and padded bras.

Related: Is It Safe To Wear An Underwire Bra While Nursing?

how do nursing bras work

Leila Nursing Bra NB502 in Bare

Shopping tips

Since the key feature of the nursing bra is the easy to open cups, you definitely want to test it out when you’re trying one on. With some bras, the entire cup folds away, whereas others have a smaller flap. Regardless of which style you choose, try opening it with one hand (since your other arm will be holding your baby) to ensure that it’s not a struggle. Better yet, make sure you can also refasten it with one hand. After all, nursing bras should be making your life easier, not complicating the breastfeeding process.

Nursing bras should feel comfortable — they shouldn’t add any pressure to the breast, but they should still offer a high level of support (even when the cup is open). Speaking of fit, we recommend investing in a bra that has at least three rows of hook and eye closures. The bra should fit well on the loosest closure so that as your rib cage contracts, you can keep tightening the band.

It’s advisable to opt for cups that are made of a breathable fabric (such as cotton) — this minimizes the risk of trapped moisture, bacterial growth and any possibility of skin irritation, which can be caused by synthetic fibers.

How many nursing bras do you need?

When shopping for nursing bras, you’ll probably want at least three options in your collection. That way when you’re washing one, you’ll still have one to wear and one backup in your drawer — and rotating your bras is always a good idea as it means you’ll preserve the longevity of your bras and also won’t need to do laundry as often.

Nursing bras can make your transition into motherhood a whole lot simpler — and with such a wide variety of these specialized undergarments to choose from, you’re bound to find some that meet your specific needs and preferences. One final tip: Since your bra size can fluctuate quite a bit post-pregnancy, it’s a good idea to get professionally fitted before purchasing any nursing bras.

Related: When To Buy Nursing Bras

where should I get measured for nursing bras

Leila Nursing Bra NB502 in Bare

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
Leila Nursing Bra NB502 in Bare
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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