If you are a first-time mom, you may wonder if you really need a nursing bra. Some women think that they can buy larger sizes of regular bras, as opposed to buying nursing bras, citing budget considerations or style limitations of nursing bras. But is it a good idea? Ask any breastfeeding mother and she will tell you that she cannot imagine life without a nursing bra. Here’s why:
1. Nursing bras provide easy access to your breasts
This is particularly important early on, when your baby nurses often. The American Academy of Pediatrics statement on breastfeeding suggests that an average infant will nurse 8 to 12 times per 24 hour period.1 Many babies eat every 1 or 2 hours. Scrambling to take your clothes off over a dozen times a day is time-consuming and stressful, especially with a hungry newborn. Nursing bras also allow you to reveal one breast at a time, a key consideration if you are nursing in public.
2. Nursing bras are safer for breastfeeding mothers and more comfortable than regular bras
Because your body has been changing during pregnancy and postpartum, you are unlikely to fit into your pre-pregnancy bra. According to an Ohio pediatrician Ann Witt, wearing a bra that is too tight may cause the milk ducts to become plugged. Nursing bras are usually designed to have a wider band and more room, providing the much-needed comfort to your hard-working breasts.
3. Nursing bras provide protection from leaks
Whether you expect it or not, your breasts will likely leak, especially early on. Nursing bras are more flexible and allow room for nursing pads.
4. Nursing bras provide support & comfort to changing breast
It may seem convenient to skip the bra while you are feeding your baby frequently, especially at home. However, it is critically important that your changing breasts receive enough support, not only for comfort but also for aesthetic purposes. You can experiment with different types of nursing bras to figure out what works best for you. In fact, having a nursing bra is so important that Parents magazine suggests that the right bra is the key to a successful nursing experience. Dr. Sears, a popular pediatrician, and author, recommends that you buy at least three nursing bras.
Nursing bras are a great investment, especially if you plan to breastfeed your baby well into his second year. A comfortable bra that provides easy access to your breasts, while you are wrestling with a hungry infant or toddler, is well worth the price.
1 American Academy of Pediatrics. (1997). Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Retrieved on April 18, 2012 from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/100/6/1035.full#sec-4
2 WebMD. (2012). Breastfeeding: 11 Things That Can Help. Retrieved on April 18, 2012 from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/breastfeeding-items-that-may-help
3 Parents Magazine; Jennifer Richards (2012). 14 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastfeeding. Retrieved on April 18, 2012 from http://www.parents.com/baby/breastfeeding/problems/breastfeeding-soothing-solutions/
4 Ask Dr. Sears. (2012). Choosing the Right Nursing Bra. Retrieved on April 18, 2012 from http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/helpful-products/choosing-right-nursing-bra
For the determining the best starting point for your bra size, please visit our How to Measure Your Bra Size page.
Wearing your bra, take a snug measurement around your ribcage, directly under your bust and keep level all around. If you get an odd number, round up to the next even number. This is your band size.
Take a loose measurement over the fullest part of your bust, keeping the tape level around your body. If needed, round up to the nearest inch.
Subtract your band size from your bust size, and use the difference to find your cup size on the chart below.