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The best nursing bras are comfortable and offer good support but don't bind your breasts in any way that could interfere with milk flow. Learn about your nursing bra options.
Featured expert Ariel Gold is based in San Francisco. She has certification as an Eco-Maternity Consultant from the International Maternity and Parenting Institute and has been working with parents at DayOne Baby since 2011.
Find your perfect bra fit.
Video by Paige Bierma Productions
Hi, I'm Ariel Gold, a baby gear expert in San Francisco, and today we're going to talk about nursing bras. There are lots of options out there, but they all pretty much fall into the following five categories:
Drop-down cup bras usually have a plastic clip at the shoulder that allows you to unhook it and feed your baby. They come in many different styles, from a basic soft cup to sexy lingerie, usually with a hook and eye in the back for closure. Like most nursing bras, these tend to work best with shirts that button down the front so you can uncover one breast without exposing your whole tummy. Make sure the clip can easily be unhooked with one hand, as your other arm will be holding your child.
Crossover bras are sometimes also called sleep bras, both because they're soft and comfy and because you can pull the cup to the side for easy nighttime nursing. They are wireless with non-molded cups, and most of them pull on and off without having hooks in the back. This is what makes them so comfortable at night. Sleep bras don't offer a lot of support. Their main purpose is to hold the breast pad in place so you don't leak during the night.
Hands-free pumping bras are designed specifically for pumping, and here's how they work: Unzip in the front, poke the flange through, zip back up, and attach the bottles. This allows you to do a full pump, hands-free. Now you're able to read a book, check your email, or get some work done. A lot of these come sized small, medium, large, and extra-large, while others have an adjustable strap in back.
Underwire nursing bras have a drop-down cup that can be either soft or molded, depending on how much structure you're looking for. There's a sling in many of them that can also offer additional support while you're nursing. Many women like the extra support offered by an underwire, especially after the first few weeks, when breasts usually become less tender. But be aware that even if you've worn underwire all your life, you may find it uncomfortable during nursing. If you develop mastitis, blocked milk ducts, or pain, it's a good idea to stop wearing underwire while you're nursing. You'll also want to contact a lactation consultant or your ob-gyn. People who want good support without wire can try a wireless molded-cup bra like this one.
Many moms really like nursing tanks because they cover the tummy and can be worn on their own or under clothes. This model is a drop-down. There are also crossover versions. Nursing tanks are great in the hospital, or at home if you're having lots of visitors and don't want to be exposed. They're also perfect for public feeding since they look like a regular tank but have easy access for your baby without exposing too much.
One last thing to think about is sizing. I usually recommend getting fitted around 36 to 37 weeks. Keep in mind that your cup size may change, so you want to find something that's going to be flexible in the very beginning.
To learn more about nursing bras and all things parenting, visit BabyCenter.