Nursing Bras

The best nursing bras for comfort and convenience

Every breastfeeding mother needs a nursing bra or two. Not only will regular bras fit strangely, compressing your breasts and leading to discomfort, they are just not designed for the job. But just as fumbling with a bra is one headache you don't need, going braless won't do you any favors either: without decent support and protection, you leave your breasts prone to infection, aches and embarrassing leaks.


Just as generic bras come in all shapes and styles, nursing bras come in a variety of designs to fit a variety of bodies. You'll probably find one or two that suit your body and your style, but it can take some trial and error to arrive at that ideal bra. Save yourself some time and effort by learning a bit about the basic designs before you visit the store. You may also want to invest in a few nursing tops -- the convenience of a nursing bra is wasted if you have to get half undressed to access it! Specifically designed nursing clothes are available, or you may find some regular tops that open or pull aside easily without revealing too much.

Finding the Right Style of Nursing Bra

Most nursing bras feature cups that can be opened to expose the breast for feeding and then closed securely afterwards. However, the way this flap opens and closes can alter the design and convenience a great deal: zippers, snaps, clips and Velcro closures will each offer their own advantages and drawbacks, and then there are streamlined styles with stretchy cups that can simply be moved to the side when needed. If your breasts are relatively small, this stretchy one-piece style might suit you best; for new moms with larger breasts, removable flaps are the way to go. If you plan on taking part in any mommy and baby fitness classes to get back into shape, a nursing sports bra is essential. It will provide the support you need while still allowing for convenient breastfeeding access. Be sure you are measured properly before you make your purchase, since a too-tight bra can aggravate sore nipples, cause clogged milk ducts and even interfere with milk production.

Whichever style you decide on, keep in mind that breastfeeding can be a messy endeavor and it will take a lot of time and effort to stay on top of your laundry in the first few weeks. For this reason, consider buying a few nursing bras so you always have a clean one to slip on after you leak breast milk or if you get particularly sweaty. Your breasts are more vulnerable to irritation and infection when you're breastfeeding, and a bra dampened by a few drops of milk is the perfect environment for bacteria to breed. If you find that your breasts leak a lot, look into nursing pads for extra protection, both for the health of your breasts and to avoid embarrassing stains. You may have to try a few brands of these absorbent pads to find one that fits discreetly in your bra.

What to Look for in Larger and Plus Size Nursing Bras

For those with larger breasts, you'll want to consider elements of comfort and support alongside level of convenience. First, make sure that the cup covers the whole breast to offer maximum support and check that the back has at least three rows of hooks (four is ideal) and can be adjusted enough to allow for a perfect fit. As for the straps, opt for wide, soft bands of fabric that have some padding on the underside to prevent sore shoulders. Breasts become quite heavy as they fill with milk, and you can suffer all sorts of aches and pains if you don't have good support where it counts.

Bravado nursing bras have a reputation for being exceptionally stylish and supportive for a range of chest sizes, Bella Materna is a preferred brand for petite women and Medela nursing bras are revered for their comfort and handiness by small-breasted and large-breasted women alike. Of course, there's a huge variety of brands and styles out there, so explore local specialty boutiques and online stores to compare fit and feel.