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A nursing bra is an essential piece of clothing for a new mom

What is a nursing bra and why do you need one?

A nursing bra makes breastfeeding easier, especially in public. Rather than lift your shirt up or pull your breast out, quick release clasps reveal the nipple, allowing you to nurse a baby without having to remove the bra. Some softer nursing bras employ a pull aside design that allows you to pull your breast out to nurse, then push it back inside.

Nursing bras are designed to adjust as your breasts fill up with milk and contract again. They can conceal leaks and hold breast pads if necessary.

While they are designed to be worn during the time you nurse, typically a year (though some moms choose to end early or continue later than that), they can also offer extra support afterwards. And some can even convert to a regular bra.

What are the types of nursing bras?

There are different types of nursing bras to suit different body types/breast sizes, and situations. Made from materials like soft cotton or lace, and in colours like nude, black, white, navy, grey, or even polka dot patterns, they come in standard bra sizes.

Comfort nursing bras are less structured in design, available in small, medium, and large sizes. But they don’t offer as much support as underwire or molded cup wireless nursing bras. These offer added support, especially necessary for women with larger breasts. But make sure to get the proper cup size. A nursing bra that’s too tight can put pressure on your breast tissue, causing clogged ducts or mastitis.

Sleep nursing bras, ideal for night-time nursing, are typically made of soft elastic and employ a criss-cross design so you can easily move the fabric to the outer side of your breast without fumbling with clasps. But because there’s little suspension, you won’t want to wear one out as your breasts can look saggy.

Nursing tanks or camisoles hide your tummy while you nurse and include the same quick release clasps so you can let down one side to nurse, then clip it back up when done. You can wear one on its own during hot days, or layer one under clothing when it’s cold.

What to look for in a nursing bra

Measure the circumference around your chest, above the breast, then at the centre of your breasts to get your size (e.g. 36 around your chest and 40 around the middle of your breasts means your size is 36D; the difference of 4 corresponds to a D cup size). If you are buying nursing bras ahead of time, go a size up as your breasts will grow (it’s best to wait before buying to get an accurate size.)

Make sure the fabric is comfortable and clasps easy to remove and clip back. Women with larger breasts will need a nursing bra with maximum support, so sleep or comfort bras might not be an option.