You might think that you don’t really need any new bras until you deliver your baby and start nursing. But you are missing out on one of the best pregnancy inventions of all time: the maternity bra.
Maternity bras are meant to give you a bit of extra breathing room, some structure as your breasts grow, and may help with breast tenderness during pregnancy as well. Many double as postpartum bras, too.
Maternity bras, like all bras, come in a wide array of styles, sizes, fabrics, cuts, and designs. It can take some trial and error to find one you love, so keep those receipts.
6 maternity bras to consider
1. Hatch The Everyday Nursing Bra
You don’t have to be nursing to love this go-to everyday bra for maternity and postpartum. It has gathering and a center band to keep everything in place and well-supported, and features Pima cotton for a super soft feel.
The Everyday Nursing Bra
The Everyday Nursing Bra features a soft-feel Pima cotton material that allows all day wear to be possible without any discomfort.
2. Bodily The Everything Bra
Some maternity bras are just…not cute. The Everything Bra from Bodily definitely are, and all of them have a ribbed material that keeps you comfortable from early pregnancy through postpartum. The three-pack is worth the investment because you are going to want to wear this all week.
If you are missing your bralettes from pre-pregnancy, also check out their Effortless Bra.
The Everything Bra
Bodily combined comfort and convenience to make the Everything Bra 3-pack, available in multiple color combinations.
3. Born Primitive Milk and Muscles Nursing Sports Bra
Sports don’t stop when you have a baby on board. The Born Primitive Milk and Muscles Nursing Sports Bra has expandable straps that are great for nursing but also adjust to give you a bit more room as your chest expands through pregnancy.
We love both the wide selection of sizes, from X-small through 2X large, and six colorways including a super pretty watercolor floral.
Milk and Muscles Nursing Sports Bra
The difference between other nursing sports bras and this one, is that Born Primative’s option features no metal or plastic cups with full support for extra room.
4. Davin and Adley Busty Ella Maternity, Nursing, and Pumping Bralette
If you need a bit more support than a plain cotton bra, the Busty Ella bralette offers just that, with all the bells and whistles you could want in a slightly fancier bra. Gold hardware on the adjustable straps and a lace underlay that peeks out of the top make this an out-of-the-ordinary maternity and postpartum bra.
Pay special attention to the size guides on this one, as it comes in “busty” for larger busts, and regular options.
Busty Ella Maternity, Nursing, and Pumping Bralette
This bra makes it easier to nurse on the go with magnetic locking nursing clasps that you can twist or slide to release easily.
5. Lively The Busty Nursing Bralette
If you are missing your underwire regular bra in a sea of less supportive maternity bras, the Lively Busty Nursing Bralette is your ticket to the perfect compromise. The extra connector fabric between the cup area keeps you well supported and lifted, which you might not get with other styles of fabric bras.
These also lay nicely under t-shirts, giving enough coverage without being too bulky.
Lively Busty Nursing Bralette
The thick, sturdy straps on this nursing bralette reinforces that extra support you need so you can remain confident while wearing it.
6. Motherhood Maternity Full Coverage Underwire Maternity and Nursing Bra
If you are a die-hard underwire fan, the Maternity Full Coverage Underwire Maternity and Nursing Bra is the best for maternity and postpartum alike. It’s so popular that it’s often sold out in multiple sizes, so keep an eye out for restocking, additional colors, and frequent sales.
Maternity Full Coverage Underwire Maternity and Nursing Bra
Described as a best-selling customer favorite, this maternity bra comes in a variety of inclusive sizes.
What is a maternity bra?
The key components of a maternity bra are softness, no underwire, and they are often highly adjustable, allowing for multiple sizes as your breasts expand in pregnancy and postpartum.
They also tend to be versatile, some offering easy access for breastfeeding or pumping so you don’t have to buy a whole new set of bras after giving birth.
Do I need a maternity bra?
There’s no reason your pre-pregnancy bras won’t support you through those nine months, with some exceptions.
In pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimester, your bump doesn’t just extend forward, but also upward, causing your rib cage to expand as well. It’s not unusual for your regular bra to feel too tight all of a sudden, especially if you are used to underwire.
In addition, breast and nipple sensitivity might mean you want something softer, or a higher quality fabric on your breasts during these sensitive months.
Finally, you might have your eye on postpartum bras that allow for nursing, and can be on the lookout for maternity bras that do double duty.
When should I buy a maternity bra?
The American Pregnancy Association reports that breasts start to get bigger and grow through pregnancy, starting at around six to eight weeks. So, bra shopping might be on your to-do list before you’ve even seen your first ultrasound or announced your big news to the world.
You can expect to go up a size or two, and might also experience itchiness, stretch marks, tenderness, sensitivity, and leaking, in addition to nipples that protrude more. All of these can contribute to your timing for bra shopping, though it can vary for everyone.
How to measure for a maternity bra
Most retailers offer specific directions on how to measure your chest at home so you can then decide your best size using a sizing chart. Many request that you use a soft tape measure to measure around your chest under your breasts, and then again around your chest across the nipple line. These two measurements together often make up your bra size.
What size maternity bra should I buy?
Many maternity bras are adjustable, both in the band tightness and in the length of the straps, though it’s hard to have an adjustable cup, so that stays the same.
Given this, you might not want to buy a super tight bra that will only last your first trimester. Instead, choose one that is a bit roomier, or wait until your second trimester to determine your actual cup size.
You also might find you need to buy one bra earlier in pregnancy, and another one closer to your due date as you get a better gauge of how much your breast size will increase.
To determine your current size, you can get measured in person at a bra retailer, or you can measure your own chest at home using size guides from online retailers.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.