Clothing may not be high on the list of things that can affect you during pregnancy especially when you consider all the changes that your body is going through at the time, but some items, such as maternity underwear, can affect you. This is why we have put together a helpful guide to wearing an underwire nursing bra during pregnancy.
Can I Wear an Underwire Nursing Bra when Breastfeeding
Many midwives and breastfeeding consultants advise not to wear underwire bras when breastfeeding. They recommend a softcup bra as the hard, rigid under wires may interfere with natural breast changes. They can also dig into your breast tissue, clogging a milk duct.
A milk duct can become clogged when the milk fails to drain from it adequately - it is likely to feel like a hard spot that can be sore and tender to the touch. An underwire nursing bra can cause these blockages, but so can:
An ill-fitting nursing bra. If there is not enough cup space the bra can press on a milk duct
An incomplete or missed feeding
A poor breast pump that doesn't express the milk properly
Stress or illness
Sleeping on your tummy with weight on your breasts
Various other inexplicable reasons...
Many women are used to wearing an underwire bra, so prefer the support they offer, so two of the main maternity bra specialists have developed underwire breastfeeding bras. They have been designed by maternity underwear specialists, so provided they fit correctly you should have no problem wearing one.
Anita Maternity Underwire Bra
The Anita underwire maternity bras have naturally-shaping, soft under wiring and provide all-round breast support, which ensures great comfort. The underwires shape and support the breast from below and from the sides.
The cups are moulded for extra support, and seamless for sensitive breasts. The stretch fabric and pre-formed cups are also perfect for tender breasts as the soft and breathable microfibre ensures a comfortable feeling against the skin.
With the patented AnitaMaternity KwikKlip system, the bra can be opened and closed with only one hand while you hold baby safely in the other arm.
Emma-Jane Maternity Underwire Bra
Emma Jane Maternity have developed a underwire nursing bra with SUPA-LITE wires. They are made from titanium, which is much lighter than metal used for regular underwire bras. The wires will easily adjust to your changing body shape.
Things to consider before opting for an Underwire Nursing Bra
If you are you used to wearing an underwire bra then bear in mind the shape and style of a soft cup bra may be different to what you're used to.
Due to the growth of your breasts and mammary glands your breasts become much more sensitive and tender during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but provided the bra fits correctly, and is the right style for you, it should be comfortable.
As mentioned above many factors can cause a blocked milk duct, including a badly fitting nursing bra, whether it has underwires or not.
Here are some fitting tips when checking the fit:
Band size for a Nursing Bra
The band should fit firmly around your ribcage. More than 1cm of give means you are not getting the correct support. The band should sit horizontally across your back. If it rides up to your shoulder blades then you possibly need a smaller band size.
Your bra should fit on the loosest setting first, gradually moving to the tighter settings as they give through wear and washing.
Bear in mind if you are buying your nursing bras before the birth your ribcage decreases in size after baby has been born.
Cup size for a Nursing Bra
If you purchase your nursing bra at around 36 weeks you should be able to place your fingers flat in the cup. This will allow room for your milk to come in, and space for a breast pad.
Your breast should not overflow the cup. If you get red marks on the rounded part of your breast then try a larger cup size.
Check the sides of the cup, towards your underarm. Your breasts should be encased by the underwire, and not digging in or overflowing. If the side seams of the bra are sitting on breast tissue you need either a larger band size or large cup size. Or perhaps try a different style.
For those who truly need a larger cup size for their nursing bra, we now stock a J Cup Nursing Bra.
The bra should be comfortable! If it's not, it's not right. For more information on how to measure you for a maternity bra take a look at our Nursing Bra Fitting Guide