It’s hard to accurately explain the level of change your breasts will go through during pregnancy, even if their outward appearance doesn’t seem that affected. On average, a woman’s breast size will grow by one cup during the course of a pregnancy but this is not set in stone, in fact some women report that their breasts barely change at all. But even if your breasts aren’t growing in size, you’re likely to notice that there are other changes afoot. Tenderness, tingling sensations and sensitivity are all side-effects of your breasts beginning to prep for milk production.
Once you experience these symptoms then you breasts are likely to grow. But even if they don’t, I’d strongly advise that you look into purchasing a new set of bras. The reason for this is that underwired and non-cotton bras are likely to add to your irritation. Underwires can press into the soft tissue and create an uncomfortable wear. Your nipples are likely to become larger, darker and more sensitive in preparation for breastfeeding (whether or not you choose to fulfill this) so cotton allows additional comfort that might make your days pass much easier.
You may not traditionally wear bras to sleep but after the third month of pregnancy your nipples are likely to start producing colostrum, the milk your body produces for a newborn. You can purchase sleeping bras that offer support when you sleep and also a place for nursing pads that sit against your nipples and absorb any leakage.
When purchasing new bras for the earlier months of pregnancy then make them as versatile as possible. During a fitting check that they can fasten on the tightest setting comfortably to allow for additional growth. Bras that have more than two lines of hooks are also advised as they offer additional support. You may also find that certain bra styles are no longer appropriate for your breasts. When I was an A cup I adored balcony bras but as I grew during pregnancy I soon found that these styles weren’t working for me. Full cup bras will offer the best comfort for growing breasts and also offer the versatility needed for maternity bras.
When you’ve reached eight months of pregnancy then you should consider purchasing your post-birth maternity bras. These will include nursing bras, if you intend to breastfeed, as well as additional bras that will be correctly sized for your breasts once your milk “comes in”. It’s much easier to carry out a fitting before you give birth as you’re unlikely to have the time or convenience with a newborn.
You can opt to go into a store for your bra fitting, Mothercare being one of the big names for maternity clothing, or you can hold a fitting of your own. In the wake of online shopping there are many online bra shops that will allow you to purchase bras and return them within a window of time (usually 30 days) even if there’s nothing wrong with the product. This wake of “quibble free” return policies means that you have the opportunity to properly field test a maternity bra. You still need to pay for shipping to return bras that you might not want but it’s a small price to pay for a personal approach to getting the ideal bra for your pregnancy.
Online Lingerie Stores That Offer Maternity Bras and “No Quibble” Return Policies
- Lingerie By Victoria
- Victoria’s Secret (Technically not maternity bras, just wireless)
The list goes on and on, including any local online stores you’re likely to find in your area. My advice would be to measure yourself with some dressmaking tape and get a few bras around your size to try on. This is only if you’re feeling self conscious but I know it helped me. Plus some changing rooms are not bump friendly!
Nursing bras are designed especially to facilitate breastfeeding and offer an easily removable cup. These can unhook in a variety of ways and offer easier access for your body. Make sure you choose a bra that is supportive even when only cup is in use and consider how easily you’ll want to be able to unhook with a hungry baby in your arms!
Purchase enough bras that you don’t wear one for two days in a row. This will give the elastic time to recover, giving you better support. You can reinforce this by hand washing your bras in cold water, which helps to “shock” the elastic back into shape. Your breast size is likely to fluctuate massively on a day-to-day basis, particularly if you’re breast feeding, so make sure you get as much wear and support out of your bra as possible.
Your breasts are dramatically changing in composition and function, which will restrict the bras you can wear. So whether they grow by a cup-size (or two) or remain very much the same, it’s worth considering moving away from the underwire non-cotton bras you may already have in your closet.