There are a lot of parts of your body that need some extra love during pregnancy, but do you know what needs some of the most care?
The girls. Yes, THOSE girls.
During pregnancy, your body expands in all directions, and your breasts are no exception. To prevent post-pregnancy sagging (and during-pregnancy discomfort), it’s critical that you wear a bra that’s both supportive and properly fitted.
Here’s what you need to know — along with our top picks to hoist those hooters.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Maternity Bra Picks of 2019 Read Full Reviews
Why Do I Need a Maternity Bra?
During pregnancy, everything in your body grows and swells, including your breasts. You’ll likely find yourself needing both a different cup and band size throughout your pregnancy. This is due to (source):
- Hormonal shifts.
- Weight gain.
- Expanded rib cage.
- Milk production.
What Should I Look For?
When buying a maternity bra, look for the following:
- No Underwire: You don’t want to cause damage to your milk ducts. Besides, wires can be uncomfortable.
- Flexible: Both your cup and band size will continue to grow throughout pregnancy. Choose a bra that’s adjustable so you don’t outgrow it quickly.
- Excellent Coverage: Your nipples will do weird things during pregnancy — and they also might leak colostrum a bit toward the end. Choose a bra with good coverage and maybe even a little bit of padding to prevent any embarrassing “wardrobe malfunctions.”
- Thick Straps: Thicker straps will provide better support and be more comfortable.
- Soft Cups: Your breasts are sensitive; you don’t need your bra making them even more uncomfortable. Choose soft-lined cups that will not rub, irritate, or chafe your nipples.
- Wide Band: A wide band will help provide support. Make sure your bra not only has a wide band, but that it’s secured by more than one clasp.
- Nursing Panels: Do not buy a bra simply because you’ll be able to use it when nursing. However, if you find one that meets your maternity needs and ALSO will have the dual purpose of a nursing bra, by all means, go for it.
- More Hooks: Having an extra row of hooks makes your bra more secure, and also allows it to be adjusted to more sizes, which means you get to use it longer.
The Best Maternity Bras of 2019
Bra shopping is always a bit hit-and-miss, but bra shopping around pregnancy throws you even more curveballs. Take a deep breath, embrace your changing body and have faith that there’s something super supportive — and maybe even super cute — out there for you.
1. Kindred Braverly Simply Sublime
Soft and Roomy
The elastic on this bra is stretchy enough to accommodate your changing body, but firm enough to offer good support. With full-coverage cups and a wide band with three clasps, you can bet that your girls will be secure this bra.
2. Curve Muse Plus Size Bra
Pretty but Practical
Underwire generally isn’t recommended, but if you have large breasts, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Elastic cups aren’t always going to hold you in. The good news is that if you choose a properly-fitting bra so that the underwire doesn’t dig into your breast tissue, you should be fine wearing an underwire bra. Pair it with a bra extender to make sure it doesn’t fit too tight. This bra is not only supportive for large-chested women, but it’s also cute — and you get a three-pack to boot.
3. Bamboobies Seamless Nursing Bra
This bra fits bodies all the way up to size 42-F, but can be used on larger women with the included extender. It’s made of ultra-soft bamboo rayon and supportive enough to be used during light exercise. It’s even versatile and has nursing panels so you’ll be able to use it after the baby arrives.
4. Mothers en Vogue Seamless Nursing Bralette
This bra was designed specifically for small-breasted mamas, with cup sizes A to C. It has a lower profile so it can be worn under more outfits without your bra peeking out. Made of nylon, spandex, and cotton, this super-stretchy bra will adjust as your breasts and body change, and can also double as a nursing bra after delivery.
5. Gratlin Racerback Seamless Support Bra
This bra will fit women as small as 32-A. It has a densely knitted underband to prevent sagging even though there is no underwire, and the hook-and-eye closures allow for a custom fit even though the design resembles a sports bra. Finally, because it’s not padded, it will conform to your unique shape rather than trying to fit your uniquely-sized breasts into a pre-molded form.
6. Topwhere Seamless Push Up
This bra fits a wide variety of body sizes — simply check the sizing chart to choose the right size. The elastic cups will cradle your breasts at any size and the soft material will be comfortable whether you choose to wear it day or night. Plus, it’s got a push-up effect so even though you might not have a large chest, you can make the most of what you’ve got.
7. Happy Lily Front Hook Nursing Bra
A Little Luxury
This bra is available all the way to size 4x. It clasps in the front with four large hook-and-eye closures, and super-thick straps offer support. Instead of a band, there’s a scoop-neck back, spreading out the weight in your breasts for reduced back and neck strain. It’s even machine washable to fit your busy lifestyle.
8. Motherhood Maternity Sports Wireless Nursing Bra
Sweet and Sporty
This bra is available from sizes 1x-3x and has elastic construction to allow for potential changes in breast size along with thick, supportive straps to keep your breasts from weighing you down. Top it off with a thick band and a cute design, and this is a great and versatile option for the plus-size woman who’s expecting.
9. Gratlin Full Figure Wire-Free Bra
Following traditional bra sizing, you can order your exact band and cup size for a perfect fit. The lacey design can help you to feel sexy, and the wireless support will keep your girls exactly where they belong. It also has SIX rows of hook-and-eye closures, so as your rib cage expands you can adjust your bra without needing to buy a new one.
10. Kindred Braverly Terry Scoopback Sleep Bra
The ultra-soft French Terry material will be soft against your skin while sleeping, and the stretch of the fabric was designed to accommodate your growing (or shrinking) size. It has no wires, clasps, or hooks making it both comfy AND easy to use as a nursing bra in the middle of the night. This bra is available in a range of colors and sizes, so there is one to fit every woman’s body and preferences.
11. EMY Sleep Bra 4 Pack
This 4-pack is perfect for the economical-minded mama; not only do you get a great price, but you’ll be able to use the bras after your baby arrives for night nursing. Plus, they’re super cute. The cotton-spandex construction is soft but supportive, and it has spots to insert nursing pads if you find you’re leaking colostrum as your due date approaches.
12. iiSPORT Sleep Bra
If you need more solid support overnight than is typically provided by a night-nursing bra, this one has thick straps that can even cross in the back, resembling a sports bra. The elastic construction and zero-compression design makes it comfy enough to sleep in, but supportive enough to meet your needs.
13. Embroidered Lace Push Up Bra
This bra is not only gorgeous, but supportive as well. It’s available in a wide array of regular bra sizes (band + cup sizes as opposed to the generic S, M, and L) to ensure a good fit, it’s got thick, adjustable straps, and a thick band. Top it off with a whopping FIVE hook-and-loop clasps and you’ve got yourself a bra that will hold everything exactly where it should be.
14. Carriwell GelWire Nursing Bra
Fit with Flexibility
Underwire is generally frowned upon during pregnancy and nursing, but this innovative “gel wire” provides support without the discomfort and damage. The non-hardening gel molds around breasts to help prevent tissue damage, but is still pliable enough to move around as necessary as your body changes. Combine that with thick straps and a wideband and you’ve got support that doesn’t look like a sports bra.
15. PIDAY Cotton Maternity Nursing Bra
Cool Cotton Comfort
No underwire here — only support through design, engineering, and stitching. The four hook-and-eye closures in the front help to offer an additional level of support, combining with wide straps and a thick band. Plus the crop-top style is uber-cute and keeps you much more stylish than your typical nursing bra.
16. Branii Full Support Bra
This bra is made of comfy cotton, sturdy enough to provide great support even though it doesn’t have an underwire, and has molded cups which help make it look great underneath your clothes. It comes with both a bra extender and strap clips. Plus it has thick straps and a really wide band to keep the pressure off your back and neck.
17. Voygal Seamless Nursing Bra
Smooth, Simple Cup
The seamless design eliminates chafing, and the elastic construction will allow this bra to conform to your body. It has a wide band with three hook-and-eye loops for maximum support, and removable padding to wash separately if you need. Plus, it’s got a nursing panel so you’ll be able to wear it through the pregnancy and postpartum periods.
18. GEPAI Wire-free Front Button Nursing Bra
A bra doesn’t have to be boring… but unfortunately, many of them are. These are cute, floral, and even give you a nice little sexy shape with the front-button feature. They still have the supportive straps you crave, along with four hook-and-eye loops in the back — all without the pain of an underwire.
19. Aibrou Wirefree Padded Bra
This bra comes with a bra extender to help you get the most wear out of it despite your growing, changing body. It also has built-in, removable padding that you can wash if your breasts leak. The elastic construction will also help to extend its wearable life, and since it has nursing panels you’ll even be able to use it after the baby comes.
20. Fittin Racerback Sports Bra
Fit and Foxy
If you’re doing some serious workouts during pregnancy, then you’re going to want to skip the nursing/maternity bras and go straight for a regular sports bra. This one doesn’t sit too low on the torso (you know, where it might run into your belly), wicks sweat away from your skin during your workout, and helps to keep you cool. All those things are way more important when you’re working out while pregnant than whether it says “maternity” on the label, anyway.
21. AKAMC Removable Padded Sports Bras
Hard Working Bra
These bras are made of breathable and moisture-wicking fabric, and also have removable cups. The cups offer support and help maintain the integrity of the breast tissue, but as a pregnant woman you can remove them if you need a little more space as you start to outgrow your bra. The racerback design supports a full range of motion and when you’re done with your workout, you can just toss this in the wash as it’s machine washable.
22. HOFISH Full Bust Nursing Bralette
This bra should carry you through many different stages of pregnancy and nursing for just one low price. The elastic construction is forgiving and will allow you to wear it at multiple sizes, it comes with bra extenders to enable you to wear it no matter how big your rib cage gets, and also has nursing panels so you can use if after the baby arrives. For the amount of use you’ll get out of it, this is a great value.
23. Caramel Cantina 3 Pack
Value for Money Option
With this set you get THREE bras for less than the price you’d expect to pay for one. And not only that — you get to choose between traditional colors or a bolder set. They are machine washable and also come with nursing clips, so with this one set can take you through many months of pregnancy and nursing.
24. Bra Extender 9-Pack Set
DIY to the Rescue
This set will help you to extend ALL your bras. This 9-pack comes with extenders for 2-, 3-, and 4-hook bras in white, nude, and black. This is the only set you’ll need to lengthen the wearable life your your too-tight bras.
25. Maidenform Three-Hook Bra Extender
If you have a bra with wider spacing (¾ inches between the hooks) then you’ll need a bra extender that will line up with them. This three-pack comes in white, nude, and black and does not feature elastic so the fit remains solid and firm. It is backed with a soft lining so it is comfortable against your skin.
Is a Maternity Bra the Same as a Nursing Bra?
Maternity bras are not nursing bras, but some nursing bras can be used as maternity bras.
The point of a maternity bra is to give you support for your larger, heavier breasts. Similarly, nursing bras are designed to hold larger, milk-filled breasts but ALSO offer an easy way to expose the nipple without removing the bra in order to facilitate nursing. Most nursing bras have some sort of clasp, clip, or panel to expose the breast.
Immediately after delivery, your breasts may engorge, and when your milk comes in they’ll be a different size altogether. In fact, you can be two different cup sizes throughout a single day. Around your baby’s four-month birthday your milk supply will settle down, and you’ll probably find yourself needing yet another bra.
All this to say that you should buy a bra that meets your needs for support and comfort at the moment you’re buying it, not because you think it’ll meet a future need. If the bra you’re buying for pregnancy happens to have nursing panels, great — it may fit you again at some point, but there’s no guarantee.
When Should I Buy a Maternity Bra?
You should buy a maternity bra when your regular bras no longer feel comfortable. For some women this may be during their first trimester, while others might not need one until their third. As with all things pregnancy, each woman’s body is different.
How to Recognize a Properly Fitting Bra
Your bra fits properly when (source):
- It’s comfortable.
- The center panel (between your breasts) sits flush against your skin.
- There are no gaps between your breasts and the cups.
- Your breasts don’t spill out over the cups.
- Your straps don’t fall down.
- Your straps don’t dig into your shoulders.
- It doesn’t cause lumps of “back fat.”
- The band in the back sits (and stays) parallel or slightly lower than where it rests in front.
How Many Do I Need?
You’ll likely need several maternity bras throughout your pregnancy, but we don’t recommend buying an entire wardrobe’s worth in one shopping spree. The reason is that your body will continue to change — so what fits today may feel snug next month.
Instead, buy 2-3 maternity bras and rotate them between wash and wear until you feel like you need a better fit. Then, buy 2-3 more.
Our top pick is the Embroidered Lace Push Up Bra. It’s wire-free, has excellent support via the wide straps, thick band, and full cups, offers full coverage, and has 5 clasps in the back. Plus it’s padded, creates a great silhouette, and is beautiful. There are so many “blah” maternity bras on the market, and this one is both stunning and completely functional.
You probably knew you’d need to buy maternity pants and shirts when you got pregnant, but don’t forget to pay close attention to your bra, too. If you wear one that doesn’t fit right it can not only cause pain and posture problems, but nursing problems as well.
Here’s to keeping our girls happy!