Woman using a nursing bra

On those days when you’re feeling more scummy than, erm, yummy mummy, the last thing you want is to be suffering in a scratchy, ill-fitting bra that ages your figure by 50 years.

There’s no shortage of maternity and nursing underwear on the market. Sadly, a goodly proportion of these can cause an involuntary shudder on sight. To help make your life easier and point you in the right direction (in this case upwards), we tested the best bras on the market to find the best in several categories.

How did you choose which maternity and nursing bras to test?

We undertook lengthy research and thorough testing to ensure we recommended the very best maternity and nursing bras available.

First, we spoke with health experts to make sure we were working to the most up-to-date advice. Then we put together a shortlist by looking at the bestselling and most highly recommended products across the internet.

Finally, we went to our trusted experts on Mumsnet and started a forum thread to ask Mumsnet users which bras they rated most highly.

Our research showed that a lot of women opt to use regular bras throughout their pregnancy and beyond, so we made sure to include these in our testing.

It was important to us that we tested a wide selection of brands, from well-known high street stores to specialist maternity and nursing bra boutiques.

After all this swotting, we had a shortlist of 16 bras to put through their paces.

Who tested the bras?

We usually use just one tester for each of our product categories, but with maternity bras, mindful of our ‘best for most parents’ mantra, we recruited two testers: the first was in her third trimester of pregnancy during and the second breastfeeding her third child. Both, however, were equally as invested in the search for the perfect maternity bra.

How do you test the maternity and nursing bras?

Each bra was tested over a two-and-a-half-month period. Our testers wore them in exercise classes, slept and nursed in them, and tried them on with virtually every outfit in their wardrobes.

The bras were all washed and dried multiple times to see if they kept their shape and colour. If the label said the bra wasn’t suitable for tumble-drying or a hotter wash, then we did it anyway to see if it made a difference.

Discretion was an important consideration, so we tested each bra in different outfits to see if it was visible. We believe wearing a comfortable bra shouldn't prevent you wearing your favourite outfit. Often, maternity bras have very wide shoulder straps making you feel like you are wearing some kind of chest harness, or they give you that sneaky bra flash below the armpit, so we looked out for bras that lent themselves to all kinds of outfits (and not just long-sleeved polo necks).

We also looked at how the bra changed body shape. Comfortable but frumpy isn’t really good enough, so we searched for bras that lifted in a flattering way, rather than giving a ‘mono-breast’ look – fine for matrons in boarding school stories, not fine for anyone else, thank you.

And finally, we looked for good quality materials and bras that would stand the test of time. Frankly, maternity and nursing bras only need to cover you from a few months to a few years, so they’d better do the job properly for that period of time. When you haven’t managed to hop in the shower and you can’t remember when you last brushed your hair, the least you need is underwear that doesn’t let you down.

Each bra was rated for:

  • Comfort and support
  • Ease of use
  • Product life
  • Safety
  • Aesthetics
  • Value for money

Why you should trust us

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.

This meant we were able to compare the bras against each other, as well as minimising factors that could have an impact on our results, such as differing bra sizes or lifestyles.

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