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Bra Changes During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Yesterday, we talked about how your bra needs will change throughout your lifetime as your body goes through different stages. Pregnancy and breastfeeding produce some of the most dramatic changes in your breasts. During pregnancy, your band size and cup size will go up as your body accommodates the child growing inside of you. After you give birth, breastfeeding can change the shape and volume of your breasts forever. What types of changes (and what changes to your bra wardrobe) should you be thinking about during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Accommodating Your Growing Baby

Maternity bras may feature soft cups, fuller cups and stretch to accommodate changing cup sizes

As you progress through your pregnancy, your bra needs are going to change – in some cases, multiple times. The hormones that your body produces during pregnancy will cause your breasts to swell in preparation for nursing your child. Most women experience an increase of at least one cup size, although many women may find that their breasts increase more than one cup size, or that the increase changes or fluctuates throughout pregnancy. Pregnancy and maternity bras can help accommodate the changes in your body, and provide comfort for sensitive or swollen breasts.

You’ll also find that your ribcage expands to accommodate the baby growing inside of you. Many women will find that their band size goes up at least one size during pregnancy. If you’re one of many women who find that pregnancy causes weight gain beyond the bulge, your band may change by more than one size. All of this is perfectly normal during pregnancy, and you should be prepared to change band sizes and cup sizes as needed to keep your body comfortable and your breasts supported. Some women report going through dozens of bras in the first nine months; it all depends on the individual changes to your body.

Incorrect Fit can Cause Problems During Pregnancy
If you’re tempted to wait it out and not worry so much about bra sizing and fit during pregnancy, resist that temptation! Bras that fit improperly can cause issues during your pregnancy. Bras that are an incorrect fit can put pressure on your breasts, causing mastitis – an inflammation of the mammary glands. Ill-fitting bras can also cause plugged milk ducts. From a comfort perspective, breasts are often tender and sore during and after pregnancy, and a supportive, properly-fitted bra can minimize breast movement and reduce discomfort.

Bras for After Childbirth and Nursing

Nursing bras should be easy to open, comfortable and absorbent

After you give birth, your bra needs will change again. Within a few days of giving birth, your breasts will swell due to milk production. A bra that can stretch with this increase in size is helpful, but you may need to get a bigger cup size again. The best nursing bras are stretchy, absorbent, and don’t bind the breasts in a way that could interfere with milk flow. Underwires that are too tight can interfere with milk flow, so if you get an underwire bra, make sure it fits properly.

Long-term Bra Changes

Push-Up Bras can Help Your Breasts Seem Fuller

Within about six weeks of giving birth, your ribcage may resume its pre-pregnancy size, and you may need a bra with a smaller band size again. Most women report a permanent gain of about one cup size after giving birth, though, so don’t expect your breasts to resume their pre-pregnancy size. More importantly, many women lose volume in their breasts after pregnancy, and you may find that you need to look at different bra styles. Push-up bras can help your breasts seem fuller, or you may want to look at full-cup bras that offer increased support and coverage.

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