Is it safe to wear a bra during breastfeeding? Many nursing mothers are curious to know the answer to this question. Breastfeeding is an important phase after childbirth. It brings considerable changes to the size and texture of a woman’s breasts. This change often results in changes in your bra size, and your previous regular bra might not fit anymore. So, you may want to choose a different bra that can help you feel comfortable and give you more flexibility to breastfeed your baby even in public. Read through this post to get complete information about choosing the right bra for yourself during breastfeeding.
Is It Safe To Wear An Underwired Bra When Breastfeeding?
It is usually suggested to avoid wearing an underwired bra while breastfeeding. An underwired bra could cause blocked milk ducts or breast infections like mastitis, thus resulting in a reduced milk supply (1). However, some nursing bras have flexible low-gauge wire support. They flex and change their form and shape to suit the variations in the breasts. These bras might not cause a blockage (2).
Can You Wear A Regular Bra During Breastfeeding?
It is the mother’s choice to choose from a regular bra, a nursing bra, or wear no bra. However, a nursing bra is more comfortable.
The breasts begin to change from as early as the first trimester of pregnancy. They grow in size throughout pregnancy and after childbirth. During breastfeeding, the breasts are quite tender and also sore at times. Breast engorgement can occur in some instances, causing pain and discomfort. In such cases, not wearing a bra may be a good idea to ensure breast health.
The fabric of regular bras might not be enough to provide the desired comfort and support during breastfeeding. Moreover, the regular bra might be less flexible and may also have stiff underwire.
Most nursing bra cups feature multiple layers of fabric to absorb the extra leakage of milk while also providing optimal support (3).
Why Are Nursing Bras Different Than The Regular Bras?
Nursing bras are specially designed for breastfeeding mothers. The fabric and fit are made, keeping in mind the mother’s comfort. The following are some features of a good nursing bra.
- They are made from good quality cotton fabric to provide breathability and comfort to sensitive breasts.
- Each cup has a clasp, which makes it easy to release the cup and provides the baby access to the breast in any of the nursing positions. The straps still remain in place, thus providing support.
- The clasps are often designed for release with one hand so that the other hand is free to hold the baby.
- The bra has softer and flexible cups to adjust according to the growing breast sizes.
- It features wider straps for better support.
- They have more hooks and eyes to adjust according to the increase or decrease in the size of breasts through the breastfeeding journey.
- The hooks and eyes are made of good material to avoid any allergy.
- They have multiple layers in the cups to provide good support to fuller breasts.
A good nursing bra is more convenient and comfortable than a conventional bra and can be easily worn with nursing tops.
When Should You Start Using A Nursing Bra?
It is entirely dependent on the mother’s preference. Usually, the cup size grows by three times until the time of delivery. For this reason, several mothers begin wearing nursing bras from the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Nursing bras purchased during the last few weeks of pregnancy can continue to serve through the breastfeeding phase.
Should You Sleep With A Bra On While Breastfeeding?
Sleeping in a bra is a personal preference. There are a few factors that could help you decide on the matter.
- In the initial months after childbirth, many mothers experience breast tenderness and nipple sensitivity. Moreover, the body is still adjusting to breast milk. It might be a good idea to wear a bra at night for better support.
- Women with heavier and fuller breasts might furthermore prefer wearing a bra in the night for extra support and grip.
- If you have leaking breasts due to milk letdown, then it is suggested to wear a bra with nursing pads while sleeping as it helps absorb leaking milk.
- Keep an absorbent sheet or a towel beside you if you do not wish to wear a bra so that you can wipe any leaking milk while sleeping.
Ultimately, the comfort of the mother is the primary factor in deciding whether or not to wear a bra while sleeping.
What Type Of Bra Should You Wear During Lactation Period?
Nursing bras are always preferred during lactation as they provide many breastfeeding benefits, but not all mothers may prefer them. The following are a few points you could keep in mind while choosing bras during lactation.
- Avoid bras with tight straps, cups, or closures as it might clog the ducts and cause irritation or infection. On removal, if your bra leaves impressions of the seam or design on your breast, then probably it is tight and needs to be changed.
- Buy different varieties of bras. Some bras might fit better during the day, while some would feel better at night. Find your comfort and buy accordingly.
- Buy multiple bras as your bras might get soaked by the leaked milk. Keep extra bras to avoid discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does wearing a bra reduce breast milk?
An ill-fitting bra or bra with tight underwires might cause extra pressure and result in clogging of the ducts. However, there is no scientific evidence that wearing a bra will have any impact on the production of milk by the milk lobules.
2. Can I wear a sports bra while breastfeeding?
You can wear a sports bra if you find yourself comfortable in it. Choose a sports bra that is not too tight and does not increase the risk of clogged milk ducts. You may find nursing sports bras too (3).
3. Will sleeping in a nursing bra prevent my breasts from sagging?
Wearing a well-supporting bra might prevent sagging of the heavier and fuller breasts. The bra provides support to breasts and helps keep them in place and shape. Cooper’s ligaments are the ligaments in breasts that provide structural integrity to the breast tissue. The ligaments experience an increased strain due to the growth in pregnancy (4). The bra might help provide external support, thus preventing the breasts from sagging.
4. Is it OK to go braless while breastfeeding?
It is your personal choice. If you feel comfortable without a bra, go for it. However, if you choose to wear a bra, you can go for nursing bras, as they are made to suit your comfort. Pair them with breastfeeding accessories like nursing clothes, nursing covers, and nursing pillows to make your breastfeeding journey easier.
5. Is there a difference between maternity and nursing bra?
Maternity bras are designed to accommodate growing breasts during pregnancy. They come with wider straps for extra support, a soft cotton lining for comfortable wear, and extra hooks and eyes on the band for easy stretch. Nursing bras are of a similar make, except that they come with a clasp or panel that allows quick access to the nipples for breastfeeding. Maternity bras do not have these panels.
Breastfeeding is a crucial phase that changes your breasts’ size and shape. Thus, wearing the right bra during breastfeeding is essential to support the breast and make you feel comfortable.
Pick a snug fit bra with wider straps for better support and comfort. Ensure the bra has been made from breathable fabrics like cotton and has softer and flexible cups. You can pick one with clasps on each cup which lets you feed the baby without removing the bra.
Infographic: How Are Nursing Bras Different From Regular Bras
Nursing bras are designed for comfort and support during breastfeeding, and it is vital to choose a properly-fitted bra to avoid breast discomfort or leakage. If you are a breastfeeding mother, check out the below infographic to know features to look for when purchasing a nursing bra.
- During breastfeeding, the comfort and health of the mother and child are of utmost importance.
- Wearing a properly fitting bra can provide support to the breasts and prevent discomfort while nursing.
- Underwired bras should be avoided, as they may be uncomfortable and constrict the flow of milk.
- Regular bras may not be able to provide the desired support, so specially designed nursing bras are a good alternative.
2. Choosing a maternity bra, Australian Breastfeeding Association
3. Kristen Morris, Juyeon Park, and Ajoy Sarkar, Development of a Nursing Sports Bra for Physically Active Breastfeeding Women Through User-Centered Design; Sage Journals
4. Brian Rinker, Melissa Veneracion, and Catherine P. Walsh, The Effect of Breastfeeding on Breast Aesthetics; OXFORD ACADEMIC AESTHETIC SURGERY JOURNAL
5. Maternity bras and nursing bras: what you need to know; NCT
6. Choosing a maternity bra; Australian Breastfeeding Association