Ah, the nursing bra. If there is any one single undergarment item that signifies change in a woman’s life, the nursing bra is a very good contender. Nursing bras are one of two specialty bras that you will wear in the period during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Most women will go through three types of bras:
Your usual bra – Nothing special here. In the early months of pregnancy, you’ll be able to wear the bras you’ve always worn. As your breasts start to grow over time, you may need to size up.
A maternity bra – This is basically an upgrade to your usual bra. Maternity bras come in a wide variety of styles and offer more comfort and support than a standard bra.
Nursing bra – Last, but very important, is the nursing bra. Like a maternity bra, nursing bras are designed with comfort in mind. What sets them apart is the fact that they are designed to provide easy access to your breast for feeding. This is usually done through front panels that button down. In some styles that do not have a separating cups, the breast can be accessed from the sides.
Finding nursing bras for large breasts
One of the biggest worries that full-figured women have when they get pregnant is whether or not they will be able to find nursing bras for large breasts and other apparel that will accommodate their bust. The good news is that supportive nursing bras for large breasts do exist. There was once a time when you would be hard-pressed to find anything past a D-cup in an offline store.
Nowadays, you’ll easily find retailers that stock big nursing bras that go past a G cup. If you’re looking for something bigger, don’t fret, companies are making bras that go much further down the alphabet, stocking bras as large as an N cup, although you may need to venture online to find larger sizes.
Best nursing bras for large breasts
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, because there are now so many amazing large nursing bras available nowadays. What I’ve tried to do is pick out a great nursing bra in some essential/common styles.
Seamless Nursing Bra
This the bra that is going to get you through those early days where your breasts are fluctuating. Bravado! Designs Women’s Original Full Cup Maternity & Nursing Bra goes up to X-large and accommodates DD-G cups.
Another option in this style is Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime Nursing Bra For Breastfeeding and Maternity which goes up to an X-large.
Cupped Nursing Bra
This is probably the style we’re most accustomed to seeing. One of the best underwire nursing bras available is Elomi Women’s Smoothing Underwire Molded Nursing Bra which goes to an H cup and band size 48. It comes in UK sizing, so if you are buying online, please make sure to convert! Elomi is known for their wide underwires, which could work perfectly if you have wide roots. Note that this bra is not fitting the model properly.
Sporty Nursing Bra
Cake Lingerie produces some of the best plus size nursing bras, and their sport option is no exception. The Cake Lingerie Zest Flexi Wire High Impact Sports Maternity & Nursing Bra offers big nursing bras up to an H cup, and a band size of 40.
Sexy Nursing Bra
There is no reason why a large nursing bra shouldn’t also be sexy. Le Mystere Women’s Sexy Mama Nursing Bra is a beautifully simple sheer lace bra that comes in sizes all the way up to 40F.
T-shirt Nursing Bra
Another one of the top rated nursing bras is the Anita Women’s Summer T-Shirt Nursing Bra is available up to an G cup in some sizes and goes up to a band size of 42.
The Kindred Bravely Extra Soft Organic Cotton Wireless Nursing & Maternity Sleep Bra goes up to a XX-large.
Bras made with breathable spacer are absolutely perfect for hot summer weather. HOTmilk Obsession Molded Spacer Flexi-Wire A-Frame Nursing Bra is made with breathable spacer are absolutely perfect for hot summer weather. This full cup underwire maternity bra is gorgeous and promises comfort with its wide, adjustable straps, supportive and wide band. This bra also boasts full-coverage cups with cotton lining. The lace detailing on the band is nice touch, and looks beautiful in both nude and black.
Choosing a good nursing bra
When it comes to choosing a nursing bra, a lot of the same wisdom you use to choose a well-fitting, supportive conventional bra applies. The ingredients for success are:
A wide band – In any properly-constructed, supportive bra that you wear, a band is going to be providing you with 70-90% of the support your breasts need. Look for a wide band, with 4+ hooks ideally, depending on your size. Make sure the band is parallel to ground when you put it on, and that it fits snugly, but does not constrict.
Wide shoulder straps – The other 10-30% of your support is going to come from your bra straps. Straps should be wide, in order to comfortably distribute the weight of your breasts over a bigger area, and avoid any possibility of digging. Comfort is key here, and soft, padded material is also something to look for when assessing a nursing bra.
You will have a lot on your plate to have to be worrying about your straps falling down, so make sure that they sit well on your shoulders and don’t slip when you move around.
Easy to open cups – Whichever style you choose, whether it’s a bra with a front panel that buttons, or a looser-structure bra that allows you to slip your breast out from the side, make sure that they are easy for you to open. You most likely won’t always have two free hands when you need to nurse, so make sure they can be easily opened with one hand. When the cups are closed, they shouldn’t feel constricting in any way.
Flexibility – This is more important during the early days of nursing when your breasts are going up and down in size as your body tries to figure out how much milk it needs to produce for your baby. You’ll want stretchy fabric that has enough give to accommodate fluctuations.
The tricky part here is, while you want flexibility in the cups and a bit of give in the band, you also need to make sure the bra is supportive.
A note on underwire in nursing bras
This is always going to be a polarizing debate. Women get told over and over that your breast should not be constricted at all while you are breastfeeding, to avoid complications. So it is logical to think that a structural element like underwire should be avoided.
Whether or not you want to wear underwire is an entirely personal choice. If you do decide to opt for underwear, proceed with caution.
Make sure the underwire is sitting properly on your chest wall, and is not constricting or sitting directly on your breast tissue in any way.
Some helpful tips to remember when you’re ready to buy a nursing bra:
Don’t buy a nursing bra too early
It makes sense that people want to do this. You’re going to be busy and tired in those weeks post-pregnancy, so it makes sense that you’d want to buy one while you still have lots of free time on your hands.
You can certainly buy a nursing bra before you give birth, and it’s probably a good idea to have one on hand before you do. Ideally, you want to wait until end of your pregnancy if you can, around the 8-month mark.
Before this stage, your breasts are still growing. Bras purchased during pregnancy should have a lot of flexibility to cope with the amount of size fluctuation you will experience in the early days post-partum.
After about 4 weeks of breastfeeding, your breasts will have adjusted in size based on your baby’s feeding patterns and needs. Once your breast size stabilizes, you can look into buying more nursing bras.
Buy at least three bras
Nursing bras can be expensive. It’s also difficult to justify spending so much on a garment that you’re likely only going to wear for a very short part of your life, so it’s understandable that people want to minimize the number of bras they buy.
At the absolute minimum, you’re going to want to have three nursing bras in your arsenal. One to wear, one to wash, and one ready to go when you need to change out the bra you’re wearing.
Don’t go cheap
It can be hard to pass up that cheap maternity bra that you saw at a certain Swedish fast-fashion clothing retailer (I’m not naming any names!). When it comes to bras, as you know, you generally get what you pay for. It is extremely rare to find a high-quality, durable bra that is cheap.
Remember that your maternity bras are going to experience way more wear and tear than a standard bra. You’ll likely be washing them almost every single day, let alone the fact that they also have more moving parts. Even if you take the utmost care and hand wash or use a very delicate cycle, these bras are generally going to age much faster. It’s worth it to spend a few extra dollars up front and invest in something that is going to keep you well supported for longer.
Comfort is key
Many different styles of bras have been adapted for nursing, so there is most definitely a bra out there that will suit your personal style.
Remember though, that comfort and flexibility are key. Bras that constrict breasts can cause discomfort and pain and in serious cases lead to mastitis.
Avoid seams that are cut across your nipple line and look for bras with soft material for lining, such as cotton.
Stick to a flexible, loose-structured and wire-free bra in the beginning. Once your body gets used to your baby’s feeding schedule, you can get fitted for a bra with more shape.
Get yourself fitted
Your bra size is going to change a whole lot as your body goes through the different phases of pregnancy and then post-partum. It may be tempting to guess at your bra size, but you really shouldn’t. If you can, get yourself fitted either at a maternity store, or a bra retailer.
When you finally pick a nursing bra, it should be love at first fit. We are all guilty of buying clothing that doesn’t fit 100%. “Maybe the material will relax,” or “maybe I’ll lose the weight,” or, “This sale is too good to pass up,” are common things that we think in order to convince ourselves that buying something that isn’t quite right is a justifiably good idea.
Don’t do this with your nursing bra. Your breasts are going through an extremely sensitive phase. It is imperative to put comfort first and listen to your body when you try stuff on. The perfect nursing bra for you is one that fits everywhere and does not constrict.
Don’t get swayed by your bra fitter. She is there to help you determine the right size, but she’s also there to sell you a bra. Don’t feel pressured to leave the store with a purchase if you haven’t found something you’re comfortable wearing.
You’ll probably need some accessories
Two very handy accessories to have are nursing pads and bra extenders.
Nursing pads will help absorb milk that leaks from your breasts. Your breasts will likely leak a lot in the beginning while your body is regulating supply. After this, they can leak when your feeding schedule changes. They can also leak during the weaning phase as your breasts have to ramp down milk production as you introduce solids to your child.
A bra extender is a relatively inexpensive accessory that can get you more mileage out of your bras. As well as your breasts growing during pregnancy, your ribcage will also expand. A good bra extender will allow you to continue wearing your bras in situations where your band size may have increased, but you still fit in the cup.
As you can see, finding the best nursing bras for large breasts shouldn’t be a bad experience these days. There are a variety of bras created in different styles that cater to more sizes than ever.