Image: iStock / golubovy
It's no secret- those first days (weeks, if you're unlucky) of breast feeding can be rough. One nurse told me it can be painful up until your nipples form callouses. That's right, people. Nipple callouses are something mamas look forward to. That's how hardcore breastfeeding is. It's pretty much a super power. A woman first brings a new life into the world, then without pause, nurtures that new life from her sore boobs at all times of day and night. Mamas don't hear this enough: you're amazing. Your body is amazing. If ever you start to doubt that, think of all the ways you and your body have adapted to facilitate the needs of your family.
You also need some amazing gear to help you through the breastfeeding stage. While there's a ton of stuff out there meant to support moms while they are milk-makers, this list is specifically about the nursing bras that can make feeding time (or pumping) a little easier. We'll tell you all about front close bras, ones that offer support for when and if you're back to work, and ones that'll keep you comfortable while not breaking the bank. The options are pretty much endless, and we're here to help you narrow down the field.
This bra's on sale over at NewChic for under $10, where it's gotten a high reviewer rating from webizens. The cups snap open to allow baby to feed conveniently, and it's made of a soft, pliable cotton. The only drawback is that, since this company is overseas, shipping can take around a month. Therefore, you may want to buy when still pregnant or well before you need a new bra. Keeping this in mind, one reviewer wrote, "even though it took over a month to arrive, I love the way this bra fits, and the additional strap extension helps the band fit perfectly after my ribs expanded during pregnancy. The shape is nice and supportive, the buttons aren't a hassle either."
Here's another front closure bra that snaps from the middle vs. from the top (we hear this makes using an electric pump easier). This one is set at a higher price point but will get to you faster. The company that makes these bras was founded by a woman who was breastfeeding at the time while trying to work. She said she was unprepared for the lack of variety in nursing bras and settled on wearing sports bras, which came with it's own set of problems. Therefore, she founded WonderMoms.
Customers seem to like WonderMoms' solutions too, with one saying, "I literally said out loud “ahhhh” as I tried this bra on out of the package. It’s so soft and feels lovely on. Very true to size. I am a person who has never been able to get away without wearing underwire but a bout of mastitis has had me swear them off. This bra offers shape and support JUST like an underwire, I’m so impressed. It also has a thicker cup so a little leaking won’t make it through to the shirt (I hate wearing nursing pads) and the removable pads in most other nursing bras bunch up and drive me nuts."
Image: Bare Necessities
Here's a bra meant to lift and support sizes DD-N. It's a Goddess brand piece, and mothers are raving about it's comfort and support. However, all those good vibes come with a price tag. This bra is the most expensive on the list so far, coming in at $48.00 before shipping and handling. To qualify to get free two day shipping you could buy two, which would get you over the $70 threshold. Is it worth it? This reviewer says yes. "I am nursing my sixth child and have been through numerous nursing bras. This is the first one that has given me the lift I need! Love it and have already purchased another!"
Image: Leading Lady
If you're looking for a bra to still feel sexy in, here's one that'll show off good curves but still be reliable for feedings. It's on sale over at Leading Lady, clips down from the front, and is covered with black, nude, or purple lace. Best of all, it'll only lighten your wallet by $15.00. The site offers free shipping as well as exchanges on every order, so you don't have to be married to a bra in order to try something new. One reviewer said this of the Ella, "I absolutely adore this bra!! I feel so sexy wearing it. It goes well under black tees or nice tops and it is so comfortable I can even sleep in it. My other lace bras can be a little itchy, but this one is so soft!"
If you're more into bralettes that traditional bras, here's a nursing option that'll be right up your alley. This soft, stretchy bralette clips down from the front but doesn't have shaping cups or wire. The piece is made in a deep v design so that you can wear your favorite shirts without seeing peeks of bra or straps. It's sold on Amazon and is priced at $18.00. On the product page one mama said, "I ordered a medium, knowing that these are the type you have to pull over your head. I didn’t want something that would be too much of a struggle to get on and off. A medium fits great while I am 38 weeks pregnant, so I know it’ll be a perfect fit once my son is born! These don’t feel cheaply made at all, and are BEYOND cute!"
Image: Motherhood Maternity
The thing that we love most about this bra is the thick back strap that offers support while a mama is active as well as makes the bra stand up to a round in the washing machine. It clips down in the front, meaning you won't have to try to lift it in order to feed the baby. It retails for just under $20.00 but will cost you additional money if there's not a Motherhood store close by. Motherhood is running a deal in which you get a free fourth bra if you buy three. This one is definitely one you may want to stock up on if you're planning on breastfeeding for a while. Reviewers on the site agree, as the bra averages a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.
This shirt has a built in nursing bra with drop down front clasps. At $15.99 it's cheaper than a lot of nursing bras but is a lot more for the money. After all, wearing camis can be such a pain while nursing. You've got to either lift or pull down just to access the bra, then unclasp that to allow the baby access. This shirt addresses that problem, and we imagine it'd be great in the summer alone. One reviewer by the name of KC said, "I love these nursing tank tops and have pretty much lived in them since having my baby. The waist is a little loose, so it doesn't highlight postpartum bulges, and the clips make it super easy to nurse. I don't bother wearing a bra since this is supportive enough to hold a nursing pad."
This bra is available at Walmart, and it doubles as both a nursing bra and a hands-free pumping one. We admit it's not the prettiest of the models out there, but it does the job. At $10.99 with free and quick shipping, it's also easy on the wallet. The product page calls it a bra, "to solve all problems." That's seems like some unrealistically high billing but whatevs. We'll settle for a bra that leaves hands available to do the thousand other things moms have to do while pumping that supply. The straps of the bra are detachable, meaning you can transform it from a traditional bra to a crossback one based on your preference. You can also go strapless, although that doesn't seem like the most comfortable option.
This bra is one that uses the "pull aside" method instead of drop down or snaps. It's meant to adjust to changing cup sizes, which is great for pregnancy and the postpartum transition. It holds in nursing pads and has garnered almost 3,000 reviews on Amazon. Impressively, most of those reviews are positive saying things like, "This bra exceeded my expectations!" and, "I have tried expensive ones like one selling for $50 to cheap one selling for $7 from China. But none of them feels like this one." It retails for $29.99, so for a sleep bra it's not cheap. However it comes in many inclusive sizes for a range of body types, much like ThirdLove.
This one isn't a nursing bra specifically, but its functions all lend themselves to breastfeeding. It has a crisscross back design for more support and an adjustable front closure with three rows of hooks, allowing for some size variation. It's also wireless. One verified buyer said that the bra is, "Very comfortable to wear and stretchy." Stretchy but supportive is right up there on the list of necessities in a good nursing bra. At $16.99 you can't go wrong with this purchase. The downside? It only comes in three sizes on the small end of the spectrum, US 4, 6, and 8.
"I've tried a few bras and I have to say this one is by far my favorite...super cute and sexy and it fits very very well. I've recently gotten a bra fitting and found out I had been wearing the wrong size which was a 38 DDD. Turns out I needed a 38 G which is what I ordered. fits like a glove and would highly recommend this if you for sure know your size. I feel like if I would have ordered the DDD I wouldn't have been happy," said one reviewer of this Paramour brand bra.
It's available at Target and can be shipped to you but only for free if you purchase more than $35.00 from the store. The bra will run you $27.99, so it won't reach that threshold alone. The best part? The built in pads are moisture wicking, meant to keep the wet feeling away from your skin.
These nursing nightgowns are from the ILoveSIA brand. While many bras tout themselves as being for sleep, this piece is really made with the breastfeeding mom's nighttime comfort and ease of feeding in mind. There's a built in bra that's made to hold disposable nursing pads. The front comes down without Mom worrying about stretching necklines or reaching back to unhook anything. One Amazon reviewer said, "Get this product!!!!! It was perfect after I gave birth. I wore it in the hospital. It was better than wearing the hospital fashion that you are provided (not that you care at the time but hey, ya look good). Easy to feed baby, easy for the nurses to check me when they needed to, easy to get in and out of bed to go to the bathroom in the hospital without being all exposed."
This bra is made from what the brand calls, "breathable seamless comfy-stretch viscose from bamboo fabric." This means it's sup
posed to offer all day support and not cause underarm or back bulges. There's a zip closure in front and optional cup pockets for nursing pads. Out of ten reviews on the HOVIZZA site, all gave the product a five star rating. A warning though- this is another overseas retailer which means the bra won't get to you for a while. At just under $20 it may be worth it to buy ahead. The bra comes in several colors and sizes from small to XL.
For $29.99 H&M sells these soft, lightly padded nursing bras in a two pack. Online ordering should be okay, since most reviewers agree that the piece fits true to size. "Very stretchy. Especially pre and post swollen preggo body. Very cute," one reviewer details. If there isn't an H&M nearby, shipping from the site is free on purchases over $40. The packs come in three color options including pink. Sizes go from B all the way up to the Es. The straps are a bit wider than typical bra straps, meaning more support without a ton more fabric. If your order and the bras don't work out, H&M allows free returns in any physical store.
"Because I'm a breast cancer survivor these are the first pretty barrettes that fit me other than a sports bra. I wish you made them in black and white also. Thank You, so much," says one reviewer on the Leading Lady Nola product page. Without underwire and with the front closure, we think this stretchy but supportive bralette could double as a great nursing option. It's priced at $29.99, and the Leading Lady site offers free shipping on every purchase as well as free exchanges if something is the wrong size/fit. Sizes in this specific bra range from medium to 5X, making it a good option for nearly every body type.
Here's another tank with a built in nursing bra (something we just can't get enough of). Why? Maybe it's the fact that it fits so well under tees and even blouses. It also could be the built in holders for nursing pads and the fact that the camis are perfect for a run or hike. It gets rid of the need for another layer, something that can quickly complicate breastfeeding. There's no need to layer a cami over a bra since this is a two in one piece. Also, the pack of three will only cost you $29.00, less than $10 per shirt. Said one reviewer, "What I love though is when you pull down a side to nurse the pad stays in place. Other tanks the pad gets all crinkled and out of place. Also the material is super soft."
If there's one lady we trust when it comes to pregnancy fashion, it's Jessica Simpson. She's on her third pregnancy now and isn't afraid to get real about body changes and symptoms. After all, we're talking about the woman who said, "It’s so much baby and so much amniotic fluid, it’s crazy. If we have a 10 pounder, pray for me!" The bra above is from Jessica's maternity collection and available at Macy's. It's gathered quite the expectant mother following with reviewers saying things like, "This bra is super comfortable, fairly supportive (especially for a larger chest), and doesn’t have any parts that dig in. The nursing clips are the standard type so I don’t foresee any issues with those in the future. Also, looks super cute on, which is tough to find in a nursing bra!"
Here's another pull aside nursing bra, this one without padded cups. It's tight enough to use to hold nursing pads in place but soft enough to be sleep appropriate. The ASOS site allows free returns and offers free shipping on all orders. The bra is made by Mama.Licious, a brand that specializes solely in maternity/postpartum gear. The range of sizes is fairly limited, going from small to extra large. The bra retails at $32.00, putting it solidly in the middle of the pack when it comes to pricing. ASOS partners with GLAAD, so you can feel good about giving the company a bit of your hard earned money.