Many women want to breastfeed their babies. But from the constant filling of milk with time, the breast can lose its former attractive forms. This sometimes stops young mothers from prolonged breastfeeding. To keep the breasts nice, it’s important to use the right nursing bras. As before giving birth, as after the birth of a child.
How Does Nursing Bras Differ From Usual Ones?
What should nursing bras look like so that they are comfortable for everyday wear and sleep and also nice?
A breastfeeding bra differs from the usual, strengthened breast support bra by wide straps and teardrop-shaped cups, the elasticity of the fabric that can stretch at the inflow of milk, and special fasteners that allow you to quickly take the breast out to feed the baby. In addition to these basic functions, nursing bras are equipped with several rows of hooks, allowing you to adjust the girth of the chest depending on the changing everyday volume of the breast. All nursing bras are made of soft fabrics, carefully supporting the breast and preserving its shape.
A nursing bra is a separate piece of underwear for a mother caring for her health. There should be at least 3 items in your wardrobe. These bras have different from traditional ones – the cup can open autonomously when required. At the same time, the main function of a bra – breast support – remains.
Breast from the end of pregnancy and throughout the entire period of breastfeeding the child significantly increases in size and visibly becomes heavier. The use of ordinary bras is no longer acceptable because they cannot cope with the support of the breast. Nursing bras are a great alternative that will help to keep the breast beautiful. Also, it will not cause any unpleasant associations in the future with the joy of motherhood.
Characteristics of Nursing Bras
A bra for women who are breastfeeding has several basic characteristics:
- The basis of such a bra is wide, as a rule;
- The shoulder straps are also quite wide. They can be adjusted;
- Cups should be easy enough to open and close. You should be able to do it with one hand without unnecessary problems;
- In different models, the opening of the bra cups can be different – full breast exposure or partial (only the nipple);
- Some nursing bras have a zipper that is unzipped from the bottom to the top;
- For the inner surface of the cups, soft materials, such as cotton, are used;
- There should be a minimum of seams on the nursing bras to reduce rubbing and increase the comfort of wearing;
- The seam on the bra’s cup should never be on the nipple line. Nipples are especially sensitive during the breastfeeding period.
- Adjusting the shoulder straps and fasteners helps to control the support of the woman’s breasts because during the day the breasts can vary considerably in size. Filled with milk, the breast takes up more space.
- Nowadays, nursing bras made in the form of tops are gaining popularity. A distinctive feature of these products is the elasticity of the fabric so that the bra “adapts” to the desired size.
The Advantages of Nursing Bras
- Supports the breast, preventing it from hanging and forming stretch marks;
- Convenience when feeding a baby. You don’t need to take the bra off;
- There is no need to take the bra off at night, thereby preventing the stagnation of milk that occurs if the mother falls asleep in an uncomfortable position;
- Nursing bras relieve pain during breastfeeding. They help to prevent mastitis.
6 Types Of Breastfeeding Bras
There are several types of bras, suggesting a variety of ways to breastfeed a baby.
Nursing Bra with a Clasp Between Cups
Advantages: Quickly and conveniently unbuttoned. Allows you to adjust the size under the breast by 3-4 possible positions of the fastener.
Disadvantages: for some breastfeeding moms, this breastfeeding bra may seem uncomfortable and immodest because it completely opens the breast during feeding.
Nursing Bra with Zippers
The zippers are located near each of the cups.
Advantages: easy and safe to unfasten and fasten.
Disadvantages: if you want to wear tight clothes the zipper of the bra will stand out.
Bra with A Fastener on the Strap in the Form of a Small Button Located above the Cup
It allows you to freely lower the cup and feed the child. It is better to choose the bra which fully exposes the breast, not just the nipple.
Advantages: easy to use.
Disadvantages: if the fabric of the bra presses against the lower part of the breast when the breast is not completely released, it can cause a delay in the milk flow.
Elastic bras are made of easily stretchable materials. They make it possible to simply pull the cup, thereby exposing the breast.
Advantages: an elastic cup allows you to change the size.
Disadvantages: It May seem not very modest for some women.
Bras for Sleeping
Bras for sleep are made of light materials. Due to this they weigh little and are practically not palpable. Night bras for nursing mothers have a cross pattern configuration in front.
The disadvantage is that it does not suit mothers with very large breast sizes.
Have no seams and fasteners. Have a comfortably tailored back.
The base and the cup are made of elastic material, which makes it possible to change the size without difficulty, and the wide straps enable the breast to be supported well.
How to Choose the Right Fabrics?
In any literature that discusses the choice of material for underwear, unambiguous preference is given to natural fabrics (cotton or bamboo fiber, silk). But manufacturers of lingerie for nursing women don’t limit themselves here. They introduce a variety of quality features of products with additives of synthetic materials.
Elastane, lycra, and spandex give fabrics greater elasticity and resilience, allowing longer form retention and resisting deformation with frequent washing. What’s more, various inserts and lace made of synthetic materials make nursing bras look nicer. Modern synthetic materials have air permeability and sufficient wear resistance. They are able to maintain good shape due to the special interlacing of threads and therefore are widely used for the manufacture of underwear (sportswear and permanent wear).
In any way, it’s up to a customer to choose between natural and artificial fabrics. Natural fabrics are hygienic but lose their appearance and deform with washing more quickly. The variety of choices of artificial fibers does not exclude flaws. For example, electrification when in contact with other fabrics. This is important in the rapid exposure of the body during feeding.
There exist nursing bras that combine the advantages of both groups of materials. Outer beauty is provided by synthetic material. Internal comfort is provided by fabrics based on natural fibers. It is important to remember that the basic requirement for the material is the ability to dry quickly when getting wet (leaking milk or sweating).
What to Pay Attention to When Buying a Nursing Bra?
At first, buy one type of bra to check it. When you make sure that it suits you, you can buy more. When choosing a bra, keep in mind the following factors:
• You should be able to open cups easily with one hand. It’s even better if you can reinstall them with one hand. Remember that your second arm will hold the child. For feeding in public, choose a bra with clasps that you can open with one hand without looking at them.
• Nursing bras should support the breast, even when the cups are open. This makes it more convenient for the process of feeding and fastening the bra without interference.
• Avoid breastfeeding bras opening in the front completely. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to place your breasts back after feeding.
• Nursing bras should sit comfortably. Narrow bras can lead to blockage of the milk ducts and breast infections in those areas of the breasts that are compressed by straps or bones, blocking the current of milk.
• Avoid bra bones, especially in the first weeks after childbirth. If you choose a bra with bones, be very careful in choosing the size. Breast tissues that produce milk are stretched from your chest up to the armpits. Bra bones can prevent the flow of milk along the ducts in this area. Also, such bras can be uncomfortable to wear during pregnancy.
• Cups should be made of breathable tissue, such as 100 % cotton or one of the newest synthetic fabrics, also allowing the skin to breathe. Many synthetic fabrics collect moisture near the nipples and cause bacterial and yeast inflammation.
You need at least three bras: one is on you, one in the wash, and one in the closet. If you have more, then you can wash them less often.
Take Care of your Underwear
If a regular high-quality bra with proper care can last about a year, then nursing bras are given a shorter life. Depending on the type of fabric, washing and, if necessary, ironing should be carried out in strict accordance with the instructions on the tag. This will avoid the early deformation of the bra.
Particular attention to the requirements of personal hygiene and cleanliness of clothes should be given when there are injuries (abrasions, cracked nipples, etc.) or skin infections of the breast (rashes, fungal (thrush), and bacterial infections). When confirming the infection on the breast, precautions should be taken against the possible risks of reinfection from under-treated laundry (laundry detergent + appropriate water temperature).
Among other things, it is worth noting that special pads that absorb milk are provided in the bras for nursing mothers. They can be either single-use or reusable. Some nursing bras also have special pockets for the pads. Being in a fixed position, such an absorbent bra detail does not move anywhere despite the active movements.
Is a Nursing Bra a Necessity?
Not every nursing woman wears bras all the time. The reasons are different: a compact form of the breast, the lack of leakage of the milk, or individual preferences. Most women around the world, especially in traditional societies, do not wear special underwear.
The belief that the lack of underwear for the lactating breast will radically affect the further shape of the breast is unfounded. The main changes in the shape and size of the mammary glands occur during pregnancy and in the first days after childbirth. Wearing or not wearing nursing bras – it’s just your choice.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.