I remember my first bra. It was more of a crop top really.
It was soft, wireless and unpadded. It felt really uncomfortable because my 9-year-old self was comparing it to the freedom of not wearing a bra. But I was secretly excited that I was growing boobs!
Over the years, proper underwired bras became the norm for me. I was definitely not game to go braless in public.
I never questioned whether my bras were comfortable until I was introduced to nursing bras.
I was like Alice in Wonderland! Maybe I was just wearing the wrong bras but I never knew bras could be this comfy. I’ve been a nursing bra fan since then.
If you’re wondering if you should buy a nursing bra, I’ll tell you all about how nursing bras work. I bet you’ll be as excited as I am about them.
What is a nursing bra?
I like to say that a nursing bra is the Rolls Royce of the bra world. They are specifically designed for breastfeeding moms. They not only have features to allow convenient breastfeeding, they also trump regular bras in both comfort and support.
How does a nursing bra work to give you superior support, comfort and breastfeeding convenience?
To answer this question, we’ll need to look at all the individual components of a nursing bra that makes it such a must-have for breastfeeding moms.
Let’s take a deep dive:
Convenient breastfeeding features
Nursing bras are the only bras that have B clips at the top of the cups. You can unclip these with a flick and instantly expose your breast to your hungry baby. It’s also really easy to pull your cup back up and reclip with one hand. Admittedly some clips are less fiddly than others so make sure you test the clips when you try on a new nursing bra.
Easy clip-down cups on the BRAVADO Body Silk Seamless Bra
Some nursing bras, usually sleep bras, have pull-aside flaps instead of drop-down cups. This makes breastfeeding even easier. All you need to do is pull your flap to the side and reposition it once baby’s done feeding. This works really well when you’re half asleep at night and can’t be bothered with clips.
Pull aside flaps on the Kindred Bravely Organic Cotton Sleep Bra
Thin cup padding
Nursing bras have much thinner cup padding so that you can fold your cups when breastfeeding. Some are made of foam. Better quality bras have padding made of spacer material which are lighter and more breathable.
Momanda Nursing Bralette has lightly-lined cups
Some nursing bras have no padding but will have pockets for you to insert cup padding if you want.
Cake Cotton Candy Bra has pockets for nursing pads
There are also special combined nursing and pumping bras. These bras have slits or holes for pump flanges and drop-down cups. They allow you to breastfeed and pump at the same time.
The Momcozy Pumping Bra is a No.1 Bestseller
Most nursing bras are wireless. It’s not just for comfort but also to prevent wires from pressing on your milk ducts. Clogged ducts and mastitis are a breastfeeding mom’s worst nightmare.
Kindred Bravely Sublime Nursing Sports Bra is a great all-rounder wireless bra
Super soft fabric
The most common fabric used for nursing bras are cotton, bamboo, modal or high quality soft polyester. Combine this with a touch of elastane and you have in your hands a super soft, stretchy bra.
If you are a fan of lace (I am), lacy nursing bras have stretchy soft lace that can expand with your boobs.
My favorite bamboo bra: Cake Tutti Frutti Bra
Read more about the best fabric for nursing bras.
Especially in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, your breasts are achy and your nipples are sensitive and might even be cracked. The last thing you need is scratchy lace chafing on your sore nipples. This is why almost all nursing bras are have cups lined with soft cotton to soothe your boobs.
The HOTmilk Show Off Bra is made of 100% cotton with cotton-lined cups
Some nursing bras are even seamless so there are no stitches to irritate your skin. If you have very sensitive skin, choose seamless bras.
Read my detailed review: Motherhood Maternity Plus-Size Seamless Nursing Bra Review
Wide under-bust band
As most nursing bras are wireless, it makes up for the lack of wire by having a wide under-bust band. The band functions a bit like a belly band and holds up the weight of your breasts. Just make sure that it sits horizontally because if it’s not fitting, you won’t get the best support.
Kindred Bravely Nursing Bras have soft wide bands that stretch around pregnant bellies
Wide shoulder straps
The other work horse is the shoulder straps. Nursing bras have wider straps than regular bras to lift your breasts and disperse the weight on your shoulders. This helps prevent shoulder and back ache.
A-frame or side slings
When your cups are down, nursing bras have a sling on the side to help support and hold your breasts in place for baby. Some even have A-frame slings that provide even more support and coverage. These are good for large breasts, especially if you’re breastfeeding in public.
That’s an A-frame sling
That’s a side sling
Multiple hook and eye options
Unlike regular bras, nursing bras come with at least 3 to 6 hook and eye options so you can adjust it to fit just right. Some even come with bra extenders. This way, you can probably wear a nursing bra through both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It’s not enough for fabric to be stretchy. There would be next to no support if your bra stretches but doesn’t spring back into shape.
Nursing bras are made of flexible material. Think rubber band. It will stretch when your breasts are engorged but will shrink after breastfeeding when your breasts are smaller. This will ensure that your breasts are well-supported no matter how much they are fluctuating in size.
While most nursing bras are wireless, there are underwired nursing bras on the market. If you have larger breasts or you’re after more support, flexi-wired nursing bras are one of your options. The difference between flexi-wires and regular underwires is that they are more flexible (duh) and are in a bigger moon shape. Both these features help prevent clogged ducts.
Cake Croissant Bra has flexi-wires
However, if your breasts are still fluctuating in size, please stay away from any wired bra until they are behaving themselves. Also, you need to make sure your nursing bra fits just right. Otherwise you run the risk of blocked ducts.
Other special features
Some high quality nursing bras are OEKO-TEX certified and GOTS-certified so you know that both mom and baby are safe from harmful chemicals.
Many maternity brands also have busty options for moms with large breasts. These nursing bras usually have even better support and comfort features.
To wrap up
I think it’s just amazing how so much effort is put into the little details. All these combined make nursing bras work day and night for the breastfeeding mom, providing support, comfort and convenience.
- The 11 best affordable nursing bras on Amazon
- How to choose the right nursing bra (with examples)
- 15 best nursing bras from Amazon
- What nursing bra size should I buy? A simple guide.
- What are the different types of nursing bras? Which one is for you?