Choosing a Nursing Bra

how to pick a nursing bra

Any nursing or soon-to-be-nursing moms out there? We have expert tips on how to pick a nursing bra with information you might find very helpful!

4 Things to Consider:

  1. Measure for the perfect fit. (Preferably after your milk has unpacked its suitcases.)  A two to three cup size increase post child arrival is not unusual. (Measuring instructions HERE.) Your getup shouldn’t bind the breast in any way that will interfere with milk flow. This means wearing a regular bra or one that doesn’t fit isn’t an option. Not only because of the sad visual state it leaves you, but also because it can inhibit your milk flow all together, and sometimes cause crippling pain.
  2. Avoid underwire. Underwires are like nursing kryptonite.  At least during the first few weeks following birth when the breasts and milk flow are most volatile.  Underwire can confine the growth changes in breast size and shape during pregnancy and restrict milk flow during breast feeding.
  3. Quick draw. Try it on and make sure you can unfasten, unzip, unclip, or slip as necessary with one hand.
  4. Soft Cottons are a must. Even if the cup has some lace or alternative fabric on the exterior, the interior should be lined with seamless, sweet cotton. Anything else can irritate and may not keep them cool, dry, and free of infections.

Where to Buy:

  • If you aren’t confident in your bust-measuring abilities, go to a well-equipped department store or bra boutique and get a professional to calculate this for you. However, I must warn you, my favorite department store only carried one style of nursing lingerie, and I had to button a pair of trousers and pack a double stroller to capacity to get there.
  • You can order online and enjoy the diversity of sizes and styles available, not to mention the convenience of ordering at home in your postpartum stretchy pants.

My Top 5 Nursing Bra Recommendations:

It is important to note that I am not being compensated to suggest these, but I will include affiliate links when I mention those that are available online.

best_nursing_bra_11. Elle Macpherson Intimates Maternelle Nusing Bra

Comfort: 10 // Flexibility: 10 // Support: 6 // Prettiness: 7 // Fits True to Size

In the first few weeks following your baby’s arrival, when your lactation officials are sucked sore, not to mention incessantly shifting, this is the balm I recommend.  It offers an exceptionally soft cup and lace that ascends to a luxurious level of modesty , a strong contrast to the amount of exposure you currently endure, and resembles a fancy camisole when glimpsed peaking under blouses.

best_nursing_bra_22. Bravado Designs Bliss Nursing Bra

Comfort: 9 // Flexibility: 8 // Support: 8 // Prettiness:8 // Fits True to Size

If I could recommend only one nursing bra, this would be it.  Bravado offers a soft cup with the strength of seaming and underwire.  It both calms and camouflages.

best_nursing_bra_43. Le Mystere Sexy Mama Underwire

Comfort: 7 // Flexibility: 6 // Support: 10 // Prettiness: 10 // Fits True to Size

Once your milk supply has stabilized and pretty become a primary consideration, test drive this Cadillac of the nursing kingdom. Whether you’re concerned with shape under a blouse or seduction sans buttons, both views are lovely.

best_nursing_bra_34. Gilligan &  O’Malley Underwire Nursing Bra

Comfort: 6 // Flexibility: 6 // Support: 9 // Prettiness: 8 // Fits True to Size

If you want an affordable effect similar to Le Mystere with only a slightly diminished amount of support and prettiness, I recommend this price sensitive compromise.

best_nursing_bra_55. Simple Wishes Hands Free Breast Pump Bustier

Functionality: 10 // Prettiness:0 // Adjustable Fit

While not even close to attractive, I adore the function of this nursing aid.  My hands prefer several activities to the tiresome task of nursing pump support.

 So, what do you think? Do you have a favorite?
Let us know in the comment section below.

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About the Author: This post was written by our Fashion Contributor Reachel Bagely from Cardigan Empire in December 2011

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  1. says

    HILARIOUS! Being a mommy of two under two and going on what feels like my sixth straight year of nursing it’s fun to have a laugh at the monotony that has become my “bra life”. I wore the plain straight forward non-padded bras for several weeks around the house, but when it was time to venture out I HAD to have padding and an underwire! It is seriously awkward to see your disposable nursing pads through a tighter fitting shirt!

    Thanks for the laugh this morning!

  2. Lauren says

    Where was this 7 months ago? I sooo could’ve used this bit of insight in December,before my little girl came along in January. Still super helpful as there will be more nursing bras needed in the future. A problem I had with purchasing a post-baby nursing bra is do you buy a bra fit for more towards the bigger, fuller size you are, or to the smaller, emptier size? Common sense tells me go for the bigger size, so you’re not dying come feeding time, but I’d love an expert opinion!

    • says

      Your common sense is so sensible. Fit the bra to your most vigorous side. Once you finish nursing, if you still feel off balance, you can choose to add a “cookie” or removable pad to the cup of the less full breast.

  3. says

    With my first baby, I picked out a few different bras in different sizes and had them at home ready to try on. I knew that bra shopping was not going to be high on my list post baby. So, I picked out the one that I liked best and wore and wore it the first few days. I knew I needed several more like it to make it through. I ended up having a c-section and really was stuck at home recovering. I sent my best friend (no kids) to the store with a photo of the bra and the size. I thought she was going to throw up when I gave her the picture. It had yellow lanolin spots on the nips and ring of dried milk from that day. Yeah, it was gross. She was like, “oh gosh, what is happening to your body!” She just had her first baby this summer and I’m sure gets it now.

  4. says

    I just had baby #4 on Thursday!! You would think after 4 kids I would feel like I knew a thing or two about nursing bras, but I’ve never found one that was even workable for me, so I’m back at square one again! This time, I got the original Bravado bra, since I’m a large cup size with a small band size. (The bras I was wearing before baby came were 34 or 36 DDD.) I got the M plus size, and when engorgement hit today, I’m wishing I got the next bigger cup size. I’m so uncomfortable! The bra is okay, but not nearly as supportive or shapely as I’d like. I feel a little bit like I have one big saggy uni-boob. :( Do you have any advice for a shapely and supportive nursing bra for larger breasted women?

    • says


      While I haven’t tried this brand personally (I have tried on dozens upon dozens of nursing bras and personally own every one of the bras I recommend above), I have heard excellent things about the Anita line of nursing bras for supporting fuller breasts. This one in particular has been recommended by several of my clients:

      If you try it, let me know what you think. Overall what you want to look for is wider shoulder straps and even more importantly a wide supportive back strap. The majority of your support should be coming from the latter, not the former.

      Good luck dear!

  5. says

    Since I nursed my toddler throughout my pregnancy with my second kiddo, then tandem nursed for another year, then kept nursing my second kiddo until she weaned herself, I wore my Bravado nursing bras, and ONLY my Bravado nursing bras, for a total of five years–yikes! My favorite part was the Velcro cup attachment–even a snap was a little too tricky for my brain, and it felt like I could adjust the Velcro to be a little looser or snugger of a fit depending on my milk supply.