Maternity Bra vs. Nursing Bra: Choosing the Right Support for Your Changing Needs

Portrait of a mom and breastfeeding baby.

A woman’s body goes through an array of changes in different stages of her life. Because of these changes, women cannot simply choose a one-size fits all bra which can fulfill the necessary functions in each of these stages. Bras are not simply pieces of clothing meant for fashion. They hold an important role in providing support to prevent future back pains, breast sag, and other uncomfortable conditions brought about by the lack of support. 

When a woman goes through pregnancy and childbirth, the maternity bra and nursing bra are necessary for each step of the experience. Today we cover the differences between the two so you can go about knowing their purpose and how to select them for yourself.

Maternity Bra: Support for the Growing Bust

During the pregnancy, most women will experience a rather significant growth in breast size and this will make the usual bras they wear uncomfortable. Moreover, the breasts do not only grow in size and weight but also become more sensitive. This is where the maternity bra comes into the picture. The maternity bra will accommodate these changes in size and shape throughout the pregnancy. Overall they have features that allow these changes to happen while maintaining comfort and support. 

You will want to find maternity bras that feature wide straps, soft and breathable fabric, extra hook-and-eye closures, and a good expensive coverage for additional support. Non-wired maternity bras prevent any pressure on the already sensitive breast tissue and prevent clogging of milk ducts. Some maternity bras may even provide extra padding for added comfort as well as preventing colostrum leaks that happen during the pregnancy.

The heavier your breasts get, the more your tendency to lean over. The poor posture along with the weight will cause strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. Maternity bras will provide the right amount of support that helps with the posture and distribution of the breast weight. Setting up a good support usually means a firm hold on your posture. Thankfully good quality maternity bras still do provide that good support but designed with comfort in mind so you won’t be likely to have constrictions or compressions that may lead to poor blood flow and mastitis. 

It's essential to invest in a maternity bra as soon as you start feeling discomfort in your regular bras. Usually, this occurs around the second trimester when your breasts begin to grow in size. Make sure to get a professional fitting to ensure the right fit and support for your changing body.

After childbirth and when you begin breastfeeding, that is about the time you start wearing nursing bras.

Beautiful pregnant woman posing in the rain.

Nursing Bra: Convenience for Breastfeeding

A nursing bra is designed for postpartum mothers who are breastfeeding their babies. These bras offer easy access to the breast, making it more convenient for mothers to nurse their babies, whether at home or on the go.

With easy access being the key consideration in mind, you will want to find features that serve that consideration. Nursing bras have unique features like drop-down cups or flaps that can be easily unclasped with one hand, providing quick access for breastfeeding. The cups are also designed to provide proper support to the breast while nursing. Similar to maternity bras, they have wider straps, a soft and breathable fabric, and additional hook-and-eye closures for maximum adjustability. Some nursing bras also come with a built-in sling for extra support while breastfeeding. You may also want to look for nursing bras with the provision of pockets at the nipple area where you can insert reusable nursing pads that help absorb excess milk. You might experience leaking if you simply wear a bra that has no absorption feature and this can cause stains on your clothing. 

If you look around a bit more, you may find that some nursing bras are not solely for the purpose of easy breastfeeding. There are even sports nursing bras that can be used while exercising or doing some fitness activity suitable for new mothers. 

Support, Comfort and Function

Maternity and nursing bras are almost very similar. Some mothers might even use their maternity bras well into their nursing stage after childbirth. Getting a nursing bra is a choice of practical convenience. Ultimately it will go back to what works for you and what feels comfortable, especially since not everyone has the exact same experience when it comes to changes in breast size during pregnancy and postpartum. When you are uncertain about what is best for you and your own breast size, best to seek professional help for a custom fitting.

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