How do I know when it's time for a new bra?
A good rule of thumb: Tight ain't right. When you take off the bra and see indentations where the band and straps were, your breasts are spilling out of your bra cups, or your bra feels too snug, it's time to purchase a new one, says Felina Gallagher of the Upper Breast Side, a breastfeeding resource center in Manhattan.
Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different, and your breasts will change in a way that's unique to you. You may find that your cup size continues to increase throughout your pregnancy, or your breasts might grow during your first trimester and then not increase in size again until the last few months. Depending on how you grow, you may need to go bra shopping several times during your pregnancy.
What's the difference between regular, maternity, and nursing bras?
A maternity bra is a souped-up version of a regular bra – specifically designed to comfortably support your growing breasts during pregnancy. Wider straps, a soft cotton lining, and extra hooks and eyes on the band are just a few of the features you'll typically find in a maternity bra. Maternity bras usually don't have underwire cups. Note: Some regular bras offer these features as well and will work fine during pregnancy.
Maternity and nursing bras differ in one basic way: Nursing bras have clasps or panels that allow easy access to the nipples for breastfeeding.
Many women prefer a combination of both, buying maternity bras or larger sizes of their favorite pre-pregnancy bra in the beginning and switching to nursing bras somewhere in the middle of the third trimester.
If you do buy nursing bras to wear during pregnancy, make sure they give you room to grow. Your breasts may go up another cup size or two after your baby arrives and your milk comes in.
What style of bra is best during pregnancy?
Pick a bra with sturdy seams and straps. Flimsy ones literally don't hold up. If your breasts are bigger than DD's, go with a bra with straps that are at least an inch wide at the shoulders. (They'll do their job better.)
Underwire bras are fine as long as they fit right and don't pinch your breasts. Many moms-to-be find them uncomfortable and opt for soft cups instead.
To prevent chafing, look for soft material like a cotton or cotton and synthetic blend with no seams near the nipple.
How do I know if it's the right fit?
The best way to make sure you're buying the correct size is to be fitted by a professional at a specialty bra or lingerie store, maternity store, or the lingerie section of most large department stores. The service is free.