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Types of Maternity and Nursing Bras

There are many bra styles available to further confuse you in your search for the perfect maternity or nursing bra. Shop with caution if you are a first time shopper for a maternity or nursing bra and your friend tells you to look only for a front closure because that is the style she loved! She may have been a 34C and you are a 38H. Front closures and seamless cups will usually not support a larger breast size adequately. And…thinner straps may “dig” into shoulders while trying to support a heavier breast.

Nursing apparel such as Majamas® is often designed with “built-in” bras with pockets that hold bra pads in place. These tops, dresses, and sleepwear provide adequate support for most women in A-DD/E cup sizes.

Different Styles and their features:

Seamed versus seamless.
Most women look for seamless cups because clothing is tighter fitting and more revealing. Seams are almost always necessary in order to provide more support for heavier breasts and are often necessary to accommodate larger sizes i.e. G – LL cup sizes. Don’t fret – most seams will soften, threads will relax with several washings and wearings, and seamed bras will begin to look “seamless”.

Top cup closure versus center front closure. Nursing bra top cup closures, usually with hooks/eyes or special clasp releases, almost always give better support for heavier breasts i.e. F –LL cup sizes and can actually be very discreet and easy to open and close with one hand with practice. Center cup closures may be hook/eye or snap closure and are better suited to cup sizes A – DD/E. Zipper closures may be available.

Underwire versus softcup.
Many women feel they can get good support only from an underwire. Underwires simply shape the cup. A well-designed softcup – one designed specifically for heavier breasts – will give good, comfortable support. Comfort quickly becomes a priority as each trimester passes. Most breastfeeding specialists recommend only softcup nursing bras during the first 6 months.

Padded strap versus thin strap. A padded strap obviously offers more shoulder comfort – regardless of the cup size.

Pullover-the-head versions versus band hooks in the back.
Pull-over-the-head styles are generally bras best suited for sleeping or leisure wear and provide less support than those that hook in the back. They have less versatility than hook-in-the-back bras for band size adjustment as size changes occur and will, perhaps, become too large around as the fabric stretches out with wearing and washing.

Sleep/leisure versus daytime bras.
Sleep leisure bras generally are sized in S, M, L, XL, XXL, etc. sizes. They are meant to give light support and help to keep bra pads in place for leakage control. Daytime bras generally offer more support for active times. Be wary of typical sports bras for wear when nursing. They tend to flatten the breasts by pressing the tissue and could possibly create a plugged/blocked milk duct.

Padded cups versus molded or stretch cups.
While padded cups may offer more modesty and hide elongated nipples, they tend to be a bit bulky when opened for nursing and often retain more moisture. If your breasts tend to look like “headlights”, check out thicker molded bra pads or the very thin silicone pads – like Lilypads.

Working with a professional, experienced bra fitter can save lots of money when trying to shop for bras. If a professional fitter is not available in your area, please call our toll free number 888-806-BRAS (2727) or email us for special assistance.