The Maternity Bra: The Pregnancy Purchase Your Boobs Will Thank You For
Pregnancy changes things, your breasts being one (or two) of them. While everything’s focussed on the little life inside you, there’s just as much going on in the bra department. In fact, even before your bump has begun surfacing, most likely your boobs are already looking different, and all the changes mean one thing: you need a new bra.
A pregnant woman’s breasts take on a mind of their own, as developing ducts and swelling of volume brings with it tenderness and pain. A bust that’s expanding and changing with the hormonal tide starts to feel more sensitive, and your usually favourite bra may end up feeling tight, restrictive and uncomfortable. But while it’s tempting to carry on wearing your same old bra, or throw in the towel and go bra-less, there is the solace of comfort to be found in a good maternity bra.
Yet despite the ample choice of supportive and super comfy maternity lingerie available, many women are choosing to forgo this pregnancy staple. In discussions I’ve shared with fellow pregnant ladies, I’ve been intrigued by the low opinion of the maternity bra. One lady I spoke to felt so reluctant to buy a new bra that she asked if a bra extender would suffice. Where this might offer some temporary relief, it isn’t the best solution. An extender can allow more room in the band but if your breasts are swelling, you’ll still need a larger cup.
Poor experiences of maternity bras, being professionally (ill) fitted and the lack of attractive options were the most common complaints I heard, with cost playing an equally fundamental part. Nobody’s denying comfort is imperative but it does come at a price.
With a price tag typically around the £30-£40 mark a maternity bra falls into the more premium bracket many cannot afford or wish to splurge on. A bra that’s going to see limited use within the short time of a pregnancy and post partum, it’s easy to think you’re just throwing money down the toilet. To anyone who doesn’t treat lingerie as a luxury or treat, it’s just another unnecessary expense at the bottom of the baby shopping list.
Maternity bras generally aren’t cheap, but there’s reasons why. Nursing bras in particular are specialised garments and typically more costly to produce, so in reflection that means a pricier bra. But compared to a generic fashion bra, maternity bras may be more advanced, using softer, more technical fabrics than usual and have more features such as nursing detachable cups and clips with additional fasteners and extenders, increasing its cost while taking longer to make.
Maybe if the maternity bra was recognised as an investment piece, playing a key part in your new maternity wardrobe, it would become a valuable item of clothing that benefits your wellbeing.
A well fitting maternity bra can offer a sensitive bust gentle but firm support, allowing you to solve at least some of those pregnancy side affect niggles. Soft cups or flex-wires can eradicate the issue of wires digging into your bump, while stretchy, breathable fabrics allow your boobs the freedom to develop in comfort. And if you’re going to be breast feeding, the functionality of a nursing bra with its drop down cups is going to save you so much hassle.
What about a sports bra?
Many women choose to wear a sports bra over a specific maternity bra, often because they’re seen as the comfiest option. While regular bras are generally rigid with their hard metal wiring, a wire-free sports top with its full coverage and broad straps is a tempting alternative. If soft enough, a bra intended for light recreation such as yoga can be a good go-to comfort bra. But it’s probably wise to stay clear of high impact sports bras which are made to restrict movement, and when fitted properly can actually feel tighter than any other type of bra – not the best environment for sensitive developing breasts.
So what are the options?
A good maternity bra needn’t mean an expensive nursing bra. Simple comfort bra tops in stretch elastic fabric (like the pound shop bra) or crop tops labelled as ‘sleep bras’ can offer a comfortable, lightly supportive option for painful boobs. They’re generally cheaper to buy than a typical cupped maternity bra, so a great piece to try if you don’t want to throw all your baby fund into a bra.
Many regular wire-free soft cup bras can also be happily worn during pregnancy. Look for styles with unfussy designs and trimmings for the least irritating wear, and wide straps and bands for the firmest support.
The high-street is worth checking out as much as online retailers for well designed but more pocket friendly priced maternity pieces. Past season bargains can easily be snapped up, while multipacks offer an extra value option, making it more affordable to invest in decent cup sized bras circumventing the expensive cost of branding. You don’t need to buy into the premium maternity labels to find quality, wearable maternity lingerie.
A maternity bra isn’t a necessity in pregnancy – it won’t change the fact that your breasts are growing nor can any bra prevent sagging, stretch marks or eradicate that uncomfortable tenderness – but it can help you survive it. No one wants to end up with blocked or infected milk ducts because of cramming breasts into an ill fitting bra.
A forgiving and supportive maternity bra is tailored to your pregnancy boobs and can make you feel your most comfortable during a time of incredible discomfort. Buying something for a relatively short period of time can seem a waste of money, but sometimes there’s value amid compromise where your health and comfort are concerned.