The short answer: Start wearing nursing bras when you feel more comfortable in them than your regular bras.
The longer answer:
When do I start wearing nursing bras?
Your breasts start changing from early pregnancy, sometimes even before you realize you’re pregnant. These changes can be anything from growing in size, becoming fuller, feeling bruised and achy to looking veiny. Some women don’t even realize anything happening while others are exquisitely sensitive to these changes.
When you start feeling uncomfortable in your regular bra, that is when you should switch to a maternity or nursing bra.
For me, I made the swap when I was about 6 weeks pregnant and having wretched morning sickness. I couldn’t bear the restrictive underwire and firm cups of my regular bra. Even though I usually love my bras, even the soft fabric was chafing my sensitive skin.
It didn’t matter that the best time to get fitted for nursing bras was in the 8th month of pregnancy. There was no way in hell I was going to wait that long. I was more than happy to take the risk of having to buy new ones later on. As it turned out, I didn’t need to. I managed to wear the same nursing bras throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.
I never knew how comfy nursing bras were until I got pregnant and was introduced to the ‘secret world’ of nursing bras. Now I’m tempted to continue wearing nursing bras even after I’m done and dusted with breastfeeding.
Still not convinced? You will be after you read all about why nursing bras are important:
What are the benefits of nursing bras during pregnancy?
- Nursing bras are the Rolls Royce of bras. They are specially designed and made to be uber comfortable. When you are puking your guts out and aching all over, you want to wear a comfy bra.
- Nursing bras don’t have rigid underwires to put pressure on breast tissue. You should choose wireless nursing bras even if you have large breasts and you’re worried about support (these are the most supportive wireless nursing bras I know). Even if you opt for flexi-wired nursing bras, they are still less restrictive than regular bras.
- They are more supportive for growing breasts. Nursing bras are made of flexible material that will accommodate fluctuations in breast size. These bras also have other supportive features like wide under-bust bands, wide straps, double layers, and knitted-in zones – all with the sole goal of supporting your breasts. Why is this important? For comfort and prevention of backache. Also, your future self will thank you because it prevents breast sagging later on.
- Nursing bras usually come with up to 6 rows of hook and eye options (and some with bra extenders) to allow room for your diaphragm to grow and expand during pregnancy.
- If you go straight for nursing bras in early pregnancy, you get the best bang for your buck since you can use it during pregnancy and throughout your breastfeeding journey. To me, it doesn’t make sense to buy a maternity bra (without nursing bra features) to wear for a measly 9 months.
What are the benefits of wearing nursing bras when breastfeeding?
- They are super comfortable! You will have engorged breasts and clamped-on nipples. You need the softest bras possible.
- Wireless nursing bras prevent clogged ducts and mastitis.
- With clip-down cups and pull-aside flaps, they make breastfeeding super convenient
- Many nursing bras come with pockets for you to insert breast pads to catch milk leaks
- They have special reinforced features like wide straps, thick underbust bands, knitted in zones and A-slings to provide better support to heavier breasts
Further reading: Should you wear a nursing bra to bed when breastfeeding?
What is the difference between nursing bras and maternity bras anyway?
The only difference between maternity bras and nursing bras are that nursing bras have features that allow you to breastfeed easily e.g. drop-down cups and side slings. Most maternity bras also multi-task as nursing bras and vice versa. Unless you are 101% sure that you don’t ever want to breastfeed or you have loads of cash to spare, buy a nursing bra that will carry you through pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Are nursing bras worth it?
Hell yes! If you buy a good quality, multi-tasking nursing bra, it will last you throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sometimes you can even use it for the next pregnancy.
Are nursing bras really necessary?
Yes, they are. And I’m not only saying that because I write about nursing bras. I write about nursing bras because I think every mom should wear nursing bras. More importantly, every mom should know how to choose the right nursing bras to suit their lifestyle.
If you are really not a fan of nursing bras, here are some great alternatives to nursing bras.
I don’t plan to breastfeed, do I still need nursing bras?
If you don’t plan to breastfeed, you don’t necessarily need nursing bras. But you should still wear good quality maternity bras throughout your pregnancy for boob support and comfort. Some women start producing milk during pregnancy so a nursing bra might still come in handy if you have to express.
If I start wearing nursing bras in early pregnancy, would I need to be refitted later?
Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. Yes, there is a chance that you might need to buy new nursing bras later on in your pregnancy if your current ones start to get too tight.
To reduce this risk (because good quality nursing bras are expensive), when you choose your nursing bras during early pregnancy, make sure that it has at least 6 rows of hook and eye options and comes with bra extenders. This is because your frame (diaphragm) will expand until your third trimester. When trying out a bra at the beginning of pregnancy, fit your band to the inner-most hooks so that the bra can grow with you throughout your pregnancy.
Tip: Read the section on ‘What should I look out for when trying on a nursing bra‘ in this guide.
How many nursing bras do I need?
It ranges from 2 to 7 depending on your situation. I made do with 4. Read this entertaining article for my take on the subject.
To wrap up
You can start wearing nursing bras as early in pregnancy as you want. Good quality nursing bras are miles more comfortable and supportive than regular bras. I know moms who never go back to their old bras after experiencing the softness of nursing bras.
Now that you know how important nursing bras are and can’t wait to start wearing them, read my in-depth guide on how to choose the right nursing bras for you.