How are nursing bras different from regular bras?
Nursing bras are made for comfort and accessibility—but they don't have to be unfeminine or ugly. Today's bra manufacturers understand that women want the same kind of appeal with their nursing bras that they do with their pre-pregnancy intimate apparel.
Like regular bras, nursing bras have adjustable hook-and-eye clasps in the back of the band. Whereas regular bras may only have one to three hooks to alter the band size, nursing bras usually have four, often with the hooks two-deep (top and bottom) for added support. Most nursing bra bands are also wider to lift milk-laden breasts.
Cup support is where nursing bras most differ from regular bras. To make breasts accessible, nursing bras offer several options. A popular design has clasps at the top of the cup fabric that you fold down for feedings. Other nursing bras have snaps between the breasts so you can fold the fabric flap toward your armpit. Another design allows you to move the fabric around the breast, propping it forward. It is important to find a clasp that's easy to undo one-handed since you'll often be holding your hungry baby while getting ready to breastfeed.
Cotton is often the fabric of choice for nursing bras because it dries quickly (important for keeping nipples dry when nursing). The jury is still out on synthetic materials. Some say these fabrics don't breathe as well as cotton, whereas other experts indicate that some newer bras have specially designed synthetic fabrics that breathe as well if not better than cotton. Your best bet: word of mouth. Ask around and find out what other moms have found success with.
Additionally, various styles may work better at different times in your pregnancy and nursing experiences. You may want the added support of top clasps during the early weeks of nursing when you may also be wearing nursing pads. Then, once you and your baby become nursing pros, claspless designs may work better for your lifestyle.