After your bump, your boobs are the things that change most during pregnancy and, once your baby arrives and you’re feeding, they may well take on a life of their own.
A maternity bra will help keep you well supported during pregnancy, make you more comfortable after birth and make feeding easier if you decide to breastfeed.
But with hundreds of different types of maternity bra to buy, where do you start? We carefully selected the best available and had two mums put them all through their paces.
How we chose the products to test
We commissioned Iona Bower, a consumer and parenting journalist with 20 years’ experience, to select the best maternity and nursing bras to put to the test. Iona is a mum of two and breastfed for a total of three and a half years, so she already knew a good deal about maternity bras before research began.
Even so, she spoke to bra experts at La Leche League and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) to get their recommendations on what to look for. She also interviewed bra-fitting guru BraLady, aka Tracey-Jane Hughes, for tips on how to find the perfect fit and to get some insight into new products on the market.
Armed with that information, Iona asked Mumsnet users for their maternity and nursing bra recommendations and trawled the Mumsnet forums for comments that would back those up.
She then cast her net out to the wider internet and collated a list of all the maternity and nursing bras that had received accolades from the likes of Which?, national newspapers and magazines as well as other parenting websites in the last two years. She cross-referenced all those bras that received repeated mentions, recommendations and awards with online reviews from real mums to see how they fared over time.
Finally, she visited high-street stores to see the bras in the flesh – or at least in the 30% elastane, 20% cotton and 50% viscose.
After more than 40 hours of research, she whittled an original longlist of 35 brilliant bras down to a shortlist of 16, a final selection that represented the very best for every lifestyle and budget.
How real-life comparative testing makes Mumsnet Reviews unique
All the bras were marketed for both pregnancy and breastfeeding so we recruited two testers: Esmari Phylactou who was in her third trimester of pregnancy with her fourth baby and about to stop work for maternity leave, and Rachel Wood, a mum of three who was at home and breastfeeding her youngest who was three months old at the start of testing.
Both women led busy and active lives so we knew that they would put every bra through its paces. They each tested the 16 bras over a period of 10 weeks, wearing them both out and about and at home (as well as for sport or for sleep if that’s what they were for).
We then asked them to score each bra out of eight against these six criteria:
- Comfort and support – looking at the materials used, how long you could comfortably wear the bra for? Would it be soft and supportive enough for sensitive pregnant boobs and sore nipples in the early days of breastfeeding? The testers also performed a bounce test to ensure all breasts stayed put when running up stairs and jumping on the spot.
- Ease of use – determining whether the bra was easy to put on and adjust, how simple ordering and returns were, whether there were any extra parts included and whether the bra would grow with a changing pregnant shape. Our testers also looked at how easy the clasps were to use and how the design of the bra made breastfeeding easier, with features like one-handed clips.
- Product life – checking it washed well (the testers performed a spill stain test to see how liquids like coffee and milk came out), testing the strength of the seams and whether the bra still looked as new after multiple washes.
- Safety – was the sizing right and did the bra fit comfortably without being restrictive?
- Aesthetics – Was it attractive, available in other colours, and would you be happy to have it on show when feeding? How did it look under clothes and what sort of shape did it give generally? Are there any clothes you couldn’t wear the bra with? We also asked our testers to check for dreaded ‘monoboob’ (that the bra didn’t squish boobs together into one amorphous mass).
- Value for money – would it last the distance? Could it be used beyond breastfeeding? How much wear would you get from it overall? And were there design ideas or particularly lovely materials that would make it worth its price tag?
After weeks of research, approximately 2000 bra-wearing hours, 500 breastfeeds and many adjustments, we were able to sit down and confidently pick our top 10.
We interviewed the testers at length about their findings and analysed their scores together to assess how well each bra performed during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The highest-scoring bra was declared our overall winner, and we also gave coveted Mumsnet Best badges to four other bras that we felt were best in their field: for pregnancy, breastfeeding, sports and sleep.
And the results are in. Here are the best maternity and nursing bras you will actually want to wear.
1. Best maternity bra: Panache Sophie Nursing Bra
“I wore the Panache Sophie (had it in two colours) which was the prettiest non-wired bra for huge boobs that I managed to find.” - Mumsnet user
There aren’t many maternity bras that are as beautiful as they are practical, but the Sophie bra by Panache scored highest overall in every category. As such, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone, whatever their stage of pregnancy or breastfeeding.
The Sophie is non-wired but with the solid support of a wired bra. Our testers were especially pleased with the shape and impressive lift the bra gave, especially as its straps were easy to adjust while wearing – surprisingly, this wasn’t the case with all of the bras we tested.
What also puts this bra way ahead of the rest of the pack is its combination of comfort and classic good looks. The cups have a cotton lining beneath a lace exterior so they feel really soft against your breasts while still looking very pretty from the outside – a combination none of the other bras we tested did quite as well on.
Our pregnant tester said the lace didn’t itch at all and it was so soft she hardly knew she was wearing it. There are matching knickers available, too. Big tick.
Who knew pregnant women and new mums were allowed to look a bit sexy? As one of our testers said: “This feels like lingerie rather than just underwear.” The bra looks great under clothes, and the lace sits nice and flat so you get a smooth silhouette, even under a tight T-shirt.
We would have quite liked to see some more exciting colourways, like the shades Hot Milk have on offer. That said, the pretty bow and lace detailing made this bra one you’d be happy to flash a bit of during feeds, and the double layer cups mean any milk leaks don’t immediately show through. The pocket to hold a breast pad is a decent size, too, which is helpful when cramming pads in.
After extensive washing and stress testing, the Sophie looked as good as new and milk stains came out with no problem at all. This is a beautiful bra that would last and last with nary a sag or fade, making the £31 price tag very reasonable indeed.
- Lingerie-lovers who don’t want motherhood to mean the end of nice undies
- Beautiful and comfortable
- Firm support
- Looks great under tight clothes
- Wide range of sizes
- Handwash only
Need to know
- Sizes: 28DD to 40J
- Colours: Linen or black/nude
- Materials: 40% polyester, 34% polyamide, 10% cotton, 12% modal and 7% elastane
- Features: Inner feeding sling; six fastening positions
- Matching shorts and thongs available
- RRP: £31
2. Best breastfeeding bra: Royce Blossom Nursing Bra
While there are some bras you just can’t wait to take off at the end of the day, the Royce Blossom is a bra you’ll want to get home and put on.
Part-bra, part crop top, Royce describes it as an everyday bra that’s also great for sleeping in. While we were initially cynical about its ability to be all things to all women, the bra pulls this off very well. Its soft stretchiness is both soothing for tingly pregnant boobs and supportive for milk-heavy breasts, especially in the days after birth.
We think it’s in those early stages of breastfeeding (as your breasts shrink in size during the course of a feed) that this bra is a real game-changer. Each Blossom bra stretches to expand and contract by up to three cups, so a size 36 E/F/FF is an E cup at its smallest and an FF at its most stretched.
The Blossom had the best drop-cup clasp of any bra we tested (firm but easy to undo in the event of an unforeseen feeding frenzy) and, while the dropped cups allowed plenty of room to suckle, they offered good coverage too – ideal for slightly shy first-time mums just getting to grips with feeding.
This bra doesn’t have as much scaffolding as many we tried – underwired bras like the Freya Pure and the Seraphine Lace have more structure to them, and even non-wired versions like the Sophie bra by Panache do structure very well.
However, the fabric of the Blossom is so substantial it felt really enveloping (there wasn’t an errant nipple in sight) and, if you like something with a bit more freedom to move, then this bra could be a good choice. The band isn't quite as wide as some but it is lovely and thick, which adds to the feeling of support beneath the hidden cradle in the cups.
The Blossom can be washed on a 30-degree cycle, although our testers sneaked it into a 40-degree wash to no ill effect.
All this comfort and practicality is not at the expense of good looks either. While the Blossom is not what you’d call raunchy, simple, pretty and practical win the race here.
- The early days of breastfeeding
- Super comfy and stretchy
- Ultimate flexibility on size both when growing during pregnancy and to accommodate fluctuating breast size while feeding
- Brilliant cup clasp
- Less structured than some, such as the Royce Maisie – you don’t get as much definition of shape as you do with a bra that has distinctly separate cups
Need to know
- Sizes: 32-42 in cups C/D/DD-H/J/JJ
- Colours: Black/white ditsy spots, candy stripes and dove grey stripes
- Materials: 41% viscose, 35% polyamide, 21% cotton and 3% elastane
- Features: Transforms from crop top to bra shape with a drawstring; hidden cradle in cups; can be used for sleep
- RRP: £32
3. Best pregnancy bra: Bravado Body Silk Seamless
“The Bravado Body Silk was the only bra that didn't make me cry when I put it over my very sore nipples.” - Mumsnet user
For its ultimate comfort and clever design extras, the Bravado Body Silk Seamless maternity bra pipped the rest to the post in the pregnancy category.
Much like the Royce Blossom, both testers gave it full marks in the comfort stakes. Made using a four-way-stretch fabric with knit-in (slightly ruched) zones at the cup, the Body Silk Seamless moulds to your chest without being restrictive.
It also has a generous band under the cups that doesn’t dig into the skin as well as a wide back strap, which helps it to stay put.
Our testers said the bra was so comfy that they could happily wear it all day and sleep in it, too. The fabric feels really soft and silky, which is exactly what you need when you have sensitive pregnant boobs.
The Bravado Body Silk also has a traditional two-cup structure that gives a good shape under clothes. When compared to the Royce Blossom, the softness of the Bravado cups proved more soothing.
While the size range is small, our testers reported that the design and softness of the fabric meant that the sizing was quite forgiving so it would “grow with you a bit” during pregnancy. For feeding, the cups fold right down, so there’s no unseemly rummaging to free your boob while your baby roots for the nipple.
Its seamlessness gives a lovely, smooth silhouette with good separation (no monoboobs here), making it a favourite with our pregnant tester under her maternity work wear.
It does come up quite high on the breast and the straps taper from the shoulder down to the cup so it’s not one for a spaghetti strap dress, but the joy of this bra is in how good it looks under clothes. We’d ditch the foam inserts though – our testers said it gave them the look of having their headlights on, as they were a bit small and the bra is much more seamless without them.
Overall, the Body Silk washed really well and still looked as good as new after multiple washes. It also dried fast – a big plus if you don’t own that many maternity bras and want it whisked through the laundry in double-quick time.
- Fuller-busted types
- Anyone with sore boobs
- Very comfy
- Stretchy fabric moulds to your body
- Easy to wash and dry
- Difficult to adjust when on
- Foam inserts aren't very useful
Need to know
- Sizes: Six, from XS to 2XL – larger sizes have a fuller cup option
- Colours: Black, white, latte, apricot, dusty pink and indigo wash
- Materials: 92% nylon and 8% spandex
- Features: Seamless; removable foam inserts; comes with a B-clip converter so you can turn it into an ordinary bra later
- RRP: £34
4. Best maternity sleep bra: Cake Milk Bamboo Sleep and Nursing Bra
For a bit of extra support or to support leaky breastfeeding boobs at night, a sleep bra may be a great choice.
The Cake Milk Bamboo bra is shaped like a crop top, rather than a bra, with a racerback style at the back and crossover cups at the front that can be pushed aside for feeding.
The bra can be pulled on over your head so there are no clasps or seams to irritate in bed and nothing fiddly to undo when you’re trying to feed your baby in the dark.
Made using sustainable bamboo, which helps to regulate temperature, our testers reported it to be soft, comfy and breathable. They also said it felt more substantial than the JoJo Maman Bébé sleep bras we tested and held breasts in place better when moving around.
The Cake Milk Bamboo's design is simple but has clearly been given careful thought. The straps and back (which has a reinforced panel) stay put nicely – a lifesaver when you’re wriggling around in bed.
While our testers said they’d have liked the band to be a little wider, they both slept well in it and said the design felt gently supportive without being restrictive.
We especially liked the mesh pockets that you can slip a breast pad into – they will also wick moisture away from your skin. If you’ve already used maternity sleep bras then you’ll likely know that beds are some sort of Bermuda Triangle for breast pads and that they can easily get rolled up, slip under your arm or do all manner of irritating things. These pockets solved that problem completely.
Overall, the bra is well made and, crucially, neither sags or bags. The 75% bamboo fabric also feels luxurious and thick.
It’s worth noting though that both our testers felt the sizing was a little on the small side so we'd advise going for a size bigger if you aren’t sure. But once you’ve found the right fit, we think you’ll have sweet dreams in this bra – baby and bladder allowing, of course.
- Keeping you cool and comfy through the night
- Fans of a crop-top style bra
- No clasps or seams to bother you in bed
- Moisture-wicking fabric is ideal for nighttime
- Sizing feels small
- On the expensive side for sleep bras, which often retail at £10-£15 a pair
Need to know
- Sizes: Small (32B, C, D and DD and 34B), medium (32E, 34C, D, DD and 36B), large (34E, 36E, D, DD and 38B) and extra large (36E, 38C, D, DD and 40B)
- Colours: Navy and mauve
- Materials: 75% bamboo, 18% nylon and 7% elastane
- Features: Moisture-wicking lining in cups and Powermesh-reinforced back panel
- RRP: £34.90
5. Best maternity sports bra: Latched Multi-Way Nursing Sports Bra
“Latched do amazing bras. They're comfy, look nice and hold my 38F boobs really well.” - Mumsnet user
The Latched Multi-Way Nursing Sports Bra has a really soft, smooth feel and comes in a modern, monochrome design.
It’s intended to offer light-to-medium-weight support, but our breastfeeding tester found it supportive enough to run in and comfy enough to wear all day even when not exercising.
When feeding, the cups drop down fully and are made of a soft fabric that scrunches easily underneath the baby.
You can wear the bra in the traditional way as well as in a racerback style, though both testers said the racerback arrangement worked best. The wide band in particular added to the overall feeling of comfort and support.
Our testers felt the sizing was on the generous side. The bra comes in varying band sizes (32-40) with an extender that allows you to expand the band as your rib cage grows during pregnancy. You can then make it smaller after pregnancy, which will extend the bra's shelf life considerably.
With that said, there is less flexibility in cup size than other bras we tested. The cup size is simply B-E/F so if you fall outside of those sizes then the product won't be suitable. Latched are, however, working on expanding the size range to include an E-H cup.
The cup material is soft and stretchy though which allows the bra to grow with you. It moulds to the body and our testers felt well supported when wearing it – they reported no riding up or slipping out. The bra also comes with padded inserts that you could use if you were, say, a B cup and felt you had a bit too much room left over.
Despite being lightweight, the Latched Multi-Way is clearly well made. And for something designed to be leapt about in, it feels reassuringly bomb-proof.
- Those who like to live in their lycra
- Low-to-medium impact exercise
- Really soft and comfy
- Reasonable price
- Good shelf life – will grow (and shrink) with you during and after pregnancy
- Currently only available online
Need to know
- Sizes: 32-40, all in a single cup size (B-E/F)
- Colours: Black/white
- Materials: 27% spandex and 73% polyester
- Features: Comes with an extender that increases the rib cage size so you can buy your pre-pregnancy size and still use the bra after your baby is born
- Matching leggings available
- RRP: £35
6. Royce Maisie Bra
Our testers loved this bra and scored it highly in all but one category. A simple but pretty design (available in three colours) with moulded modal cups and satin trim, the Royce Maisie got special mentions from both testers for its comfort and good looks.
While it had no underwire and felt unstructured enough to allow for a change in shape between feeds, the moulded cups felt just as supportive as those on the Bravado Silk.
The clasp was easy to work one-handed and the cups folded away nicely for feeding. Both testers agreed that the lovely colours (blush, mulberry and navy) would be welcomed by breastfeeding mums and, while we liked the satin trim, it was just visible under a tight top.
The only major way the bra disappointed was in the washing of it – the fabric bobbled after the first wash (it needs to be machine-washed on a cool, gentle cycle) and looked a bit too well-loved after a few.
Overall though, it’s still a great buy, with a surprising amount of support for a non-wired bra and scoring high in both the comfort and aesthetics stakes.
- Those who prefer non-wired bras but still want structured support
- Comfortable and non-wired
- Supportive but with soft moulded cups
- Bobbled on washing and didn’t wear as well as others, particularly the Bravado Body Silk which washed and dried like new time and time again
Need to know
- Sizes: 30-40 in A-G cups
- Colours: Blush, mulberry and navy
- Materials: 38% modal, 24% cotton, 20% polyester, 12% polyamide and 6% elastane
- Features: Satin detailing; cotton lining in cup can also hold a breast pad or prosthesis if necessary
- Matching leggings available
- RRP: £32
7. Marks & Spencer Maternity Padded T-shirt Bra
“I like the M&S ones. They are really comfy and the clips are easy to undo with one hand.” - Mumsnet user
We tried a fair few budget bras during our 10 weeks of testing and this two-pack from M&S easily outstripped the rest.
While this bra isn’t doing anything worthy of particular note, it’s markedly less pricey than most of our other winners. Plus, the convenience of being able to go and pick these up on the high street after trying them on is worth quite a lot when you’re pregnant or juggling a new baby.
The design is simple but solid – it’s essentially a good T-shirt bra with moulded cups (with a similar feel to the Bravado Body Silk, though not quite as lush and soft) and a lace trim. The nursing clips worked well, it was easy to breastfeed in and the cotton lining inside the cups means it feels really comfy on the breast, with no irritation.
You get one black and one white bra in the pack in sizes 32-40 B-F, with G cups available depending on band measurement.
As you’d expect from M&S, you can sling these in the machine at 40 degrees and any milk stains are easily washed out. For £15 a piece, we can’t complain at all.
- Mums-to-be on a budget
- Not much ‘wow factor’ but these bras do what they say on the tin
Need to know
- Sizes: 32-40 in B-F cups (some G cups available in certain sizes)
- Colours: Black and white
- Materials: 47% polyamide, 26% cotton, 14% polyester and 13% elastane
- Features: Full, padded cups; sling inside the drop cup for support when feeding
- RRP: £30 for 2
8. Hot Milk Forever Yours Contour Bra
“I have large boobs and Hot Milk were fantastic and comfy.” - Mumsnet user
The Hot Milk Forever Yours Contour Bra is the only (non-sport) underwired bra to make our top 10. Our testers both admitted that they preferred a non-wired bra for pregnancy and breastfeeding but found this bra’s flexi underwire much comfier than they had expected.
The bra is heavily padded and feels quite structured, so if you like your bras with a lot of oomph then the Hot Milk may just do the trick. It feels like a push-up bra, not only giving cleavage and a very rounded shape, but with thick padding that banishes any chance of a protruding nipple.
Our pregnant tester wore it out for an elegant dinner and said it looked lovely under her outfit. The fact that it can be configured as a racerback style, too, meant it could be worn under different styles of dress easily, which we thought was a useful design extra.
She also told us it made her feel ‘pre-pregnant’, which, when you’re waddling around with a larger-than-life belly, can only be a good thing.
We found the bra slightly stiff initially but that eased with multiple washes and wears. It was easy to feed in with it’s side sling (which exposes the whole boob), it adjusted quickly and simply, and the straps stayed put well on the shoulder – even during feeds.
The underwire didn’t feel as flexible as our testers had anticipated, but it didn’t dig in at all and there were no issues with it while breastfeeding.
Like the Sophie by Panache, there is a different fabric on the inside of the cups which we feel is a lovely touch. We also like the pretty polka-dot interior, which is soft and offered that little bit of extra comfort when pregnant or breastfeeding. The six rows of three hooks at the back keeps it really secure when on and gives the wearer some room to grow too.
We also gave it bonus points for the number of interesting colours on offer. None of the other bras we tried had quite so many in their range.
While the label suggests handwashing, Hot Milk’s website says you can pop it in the machine. We did and the bra emerged looking as good as new each time.
- Underwire lovers
- Plenty of hooks to grow with you
- Looks great under a T-shirt or strappy top
- Attractive design
- A little stiff to wear when new
Need to know
- Sizes: 32A-38F
- Colours: Nude, black, cotton, emerald, and the more mysteriously named ‘wild’ and ‘tigerlily’ (purple and a deep pink/orange)
- Materials: 84% nylon and 16% elastane
- Features: Cotton cup lining; slide sling inside cup; convertible racerback
- RRP: £29.99
9. Hot Milk My Everyday Nursing Camisole
A nursing version of a supportive vest top, the Hot Milk Everyday Nursing Camisole can be worn during the night, in hospital after birth or under any outfit as a bit of extra coverage when breastfeeding.
For sleep, we think that the Cake Bamboo bra would offer more support, but the Hot Milk still offers a good amount of structure. It's not quite as supportive as a ‘proper’ bra, but the larger sizes have an A-frame sling beneath the drop-down cups which gives more ballast to your boobs, particularly when feeding.
Our breastfeeding tester found the clips a bit stiff to undo, but said that the top of the camisole felt soft and stretchy enough that it could be pulled down in a hurry.
Which does beg the question, “why wouldn’t you just buy a normal vest top?” Well, our testers say that the Hot Milk Nursing Camisole is more comfortable than any other vest top they’ve ever worn, which is certainly saying something.
While the cups give the support you need, the main part of the cami is loose and floaty, skimming over the stomach to produce a less bumpy silhouette.
Because the Hot Milk functions as both a bra and a vest top, it should prove helpful when hot and bothered during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. In summer, you could easily wear this on its own in place of pyjamas.
- Sleep or lounging
- Anyone who wants stomach coverage
- Smoothes your silhouette
- Comfy for sleeping
- Pricey for a vest top
Need to know
- Sizes: 10-18 in either a B-E or an F-H cup, all of which give you room for your breasts to fluctuate between feeds
- Colours: Black only
- Materials: 95% cotton and 5% elastane
- Features: Expands up to three cup sizes; the B-E cups have a side sling and the F-H an A-frame sling
- RRP: £29.99
10. Cake Zest Flexi Wire Nursing Sports Bra
While the stylish Cake Zest Nursing Sports Bra is pricey, for keen gym-goers it may be worth splashing the cash.
It's a high-impact sports bra with a lot of engineering which is particularly attractive as there aren’t many of those on the market.
While we do prefer the Latched sports bra, the Cake is specifically-designed for high-impact sports – if you’re a runner or want to be doing more high-impact classes after pregnancy, then this could be the better choice.
It certainly looks and feels the part, too. The bright shades and contrast piping are kind to the eye and our testers said the bra felt strong and supportive.
The fabric is soft and the bra seam-free so there’s nothing to rub or irritate – the flexible underwire successfully manages to hold everything where it should be without digging into the skin.
The straps are extra wide and padded to help spread the load and the bra is constructed to minimise bounce.
With a variety of hooks on the band, the bra can be easily adjusted to adapt to changing breast sizes. But while it was simple to adjust, we felt it could have offered a few centimetres more in the straps to accommodate differently-shaped people – our testers found the straps a little too short to wear the bra in its racerback position.
- Gym-lovers with a bump or baby
- Good size range
- Clever design features including smooth-spacer technology which prevents friction
- Breathable fabric
- Expensive if you won’t wear it a lot
Need to know
- Sizes: 32-40 and cups B-H
- Colours: Black with red piping, blue with orange piping and grey with turquoise piping
- Materials: 86% polyester and 14% elastane
- Features: Moisture-wicking fabric; moulded cups; breathable mesh panels
- Underwired with flexible wiring
- RRP: £46.90
What you need to know about maternity bras
We’ve put together a short buyer’s guide to maternity bras, with expert advice from the NCT, breastfeeding support organisation La Leche League, and Tracey-Jane Hughes, founder of BraLady.
What is a maternity bra?
Maternity bras are designed to be worn while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. They have drop cups to make feeding easier and usually have lots of hooks at the back that offer room to grow while pregnant.
Some have other features to make life easier at the pregnancy or breastfeeding stage, such as soft-lined cups for sore breasts, special clips to remind you which side you fed from last and even pockets for breast pads.
What are the different types of pregnancy and nursing bra?
- Pull-on bra
- Sleep bra
- Sports bra
- Camisole or vest bra
What's the difference between maternity and nursing bras?
Maternity bras tend to be used during pregnancy while nursing bras are specifically for feeding, but most maternity bras are designed to be worn for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As such, they will usually have drop cups that you can undo with a clasp and lower to feed your baby, but can just as easily be worn during pregnancy.
While that gives them flexibility and means you can use them for longer, you should still have bra fittings at several stages of the pregnancy and breastfeeding journey to ensure you’re wearing the correct size.
Do I really need a maternity bra?
Maternity bras are designed with pregnancy in mind, so are often made using materials that offer more movement and add additional support in the right places.
However, if you aren’t intending to breastfeed or definitely won’t need your pregnancy bra for breastfeeding, an ordinary bra will work just fine.
When should you start wearing a maternity bra?
Rae Vacher Lowe of La Leche League says, “There is no universal right time to buy a maternity bra. When you notice your breasts starting to grow, it’s time to get fitted”.
Your breasts can go up one or two cup sizes in the first trimester so at around 10 and 14 weeks you’ll usually notice a big change.
How many maternity bras do you need?
Four should do it. Don’t buy too many at the start of pregnancy because you’ll want to get re-measured and may later need them for breastfeeding. If you breastfeed for longer than a few months, you may well need to be measured again.
You should be able to get by on the ‘one to wear, one to wash and one to dry’ policy, but only if you’re on top of your laundry.
How much does your bra size go up during pregnancy?
Your cup size will likely go up by one or two cups in the first trimester, and sometimes more later on. Your rib cage expands later in pregnancy and will often increase by two to four sizes.
Are underwired bras safe to wear during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
Yes, but with care. According to the NCT, an underwired bra must fit properly and not dig into the skin. There are lots of underwired bras designed specifically for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and many have flexible wire that is softer and more comfortable to wear than traditional underwires.
La Leche League say that non-wired bras have more give so will accommodate fluctuating breast size better. However the most important thing is to ensure a good, comfortable fit.
As such, non-wired bras are recommended during the first 12 weeks of breastfeeding (and preferably for the first six months), but this ultimately depends on personal preference.
Should I wear a bra to bed while pregnant and breastfeeding?
You don’t need to wear a maternity sleep bra at night, but you may find wearing one benefits you. Sleep bras tend to be even softer than daytime maternity bras to allow plenty of movement and they're also handy once your milk starts to arrive.
Once you’re feeding, a sleep bra can give a bit of extra support, particularly during the early days of breastfeeding when your breasts become full between feeds.
Why you should trust us
At Mumsnet, our number one priority is to make parents’ lives easier. When we review a product, we do all the legwork for you, testing only the best on the market and ensuring that it live up to its promises.
We research thoroughly so we only test the best
Before drawing up a shortlist, we consult experts and record the opinions of hundreds of real mums online. By the time we are putting products to the test, we already know we are only looking at the best brands out there. Anything less than brilliant doesn’t get through the door.
We use real-life comparative testing
While all reviews must be subjective to a degree, we believe that the best way to judge one product against another is for a single tester to use them all in real-life circumstances and over some time.
In this case, we asked two women at different parenting stages to each test all 16 bras on our shortlist so that we could form a view on how well each bra performed during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
We use experienced testers
Our bra testers were picked for their years of experience using maternity and nursing bras. They have six children between them (and one on the way), including one set of twins, and know exactly what they are looking for in maternity lingerie.
We put in the hours for you
The bras we chose to test were all worn, washed, and thoroughly put through their paces. We figure any consumer can look at a bra and decide whether or not she likes it, but what mums don’t have time to do is road test a bra first.
Every seam was stress-tested, every clasp snapped and unsnapped and every strap extended, tightened and pinged. They were worn for work, out on the town, in bed, at mum and baby groups, and for running.
In every scenario they needed to stand up to the rigours of everyday life while pregnant and breastfeeding. Plus, they needed to be comfortable and look good too.
All prices on this page correct at time of writing.