How do you find the right fit with a nursing bra?
Finding the right fit for your nursing bra is important. "If a nursing mom is wearing a brassiere that is too small, it will lay on top of the breast tissue," explains Beatriz Cacheux, a bra-fitting specialist with Medela, Inc. "This will put added pressure and strain on the tissue, which may lead to plugged milk ducts." To avoid an ill-fitting garment, take some measurements to make sure that you have the right size. "Eighty-percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra," adds Cacheux.
To find the proper measurements, start by wearing a non-padded, well-fitting bra, prompts Anne Dimond, founder and president of Bella Materna, which produces nursing bras. "Wrap the measuring tape snugly around your rib cage, just under the bustline. Be sure the measuring tape is parallel to the floor from front to back." This measurement—for instance 36 or 38 inches—is your band size. If you measure between sizes, round down for a snug fight and up for a more relaxed fit.
To find your cup measurement, bring the measuring tape around the fullest part of your breast. Cacheux cautions women not to wrap the tape tightly but rather position it loosely over the breast. Subtract the number of this second measurement from the band size and then check manufacturer's websites or brochures for the corresponding cup size (all makers are different). For example, if the measurement around your breasts is 41 inches and your band size 38 inches, the difference would be three inches. According to Medela's specs, this would make your bra size a 38C.
If you're trying bras on, look for a comfort level that offers the right balance for you. If the bra is too loose, your breasts won't be supported, but if it's too snug you'll be uncomfortable. Keep in mind that when you begin nursing your breasts will be larger and you may need to use nursing pads. Rounding up a band size can accommodate these changes.
More bra manufacturers are now recognizing the needs of larger-breasted women. For example, Materna's bra sizes go up to E/F but soon G/H cup sizes will also be available. The Bravado brand offers nursing bras in sizes up to 46H—a real plus for full-figured moms. Ask your local maternity-wear retailer or look online if you are concerned that you won't be able to find your cup size.