Nursing bras and why you need one

You’ve just popped a baby out, your nipples are red raw and there’s milk spraying out when you least expect it. Oh the joys of new mummyhood! Breastfeeding can be a walk in the park for some, but for others it’s a difficult journey which takes lots of practice and saintly patience. And then there is the minefield of nursing bras! Which should you choose and why are they necessary?

Nursing bras are a crucially important addition to your maternity/new mum kit for numerous reasons. A good nursing bra will offer comfort and support, a bad one could contribute to damaging the milk ducts and could cause pain or mastitis. Here we look at the main questions we get asked about nursing bras and why it’s SO important to wear a decent one…

Nursing Bras: All Your Questions Answered…

What is the Purpose of a Nursing Bra?

A nursing bra is (as you might gather by the name) a bra that you wear whilst nursing/feeding your baby.  Nursing bras differ to maternity bras as they have easy access to your breasts for feeding/pumping without actually having to remove your bra (or stretch the cup out of shape!). A woman’s breasts will continue to change in size throughout her lifetime, and it is particularly noticeable around pregnancy and post-birth. New mums will notice large fluctuations in breast size as the body learns to regulate its milk supply to suit your baby. Ordinary bras do not have the ability to accommodate the enormous changes which will happen to your breasts while pregnant and nursing so a nursing bra is a must-have for breastfeeding mums. 

It’s important to use a good quality nursing bra for the duration you breastfeed your baby with soft cups or nursing flexiwires with at least 6 rows of hooks and eyes (ordinary bras usually only have 3). The back band of your bra provides 80% of the support, so this is very important. This will allow your bra to have room for the diaphragm and rib cage to expand during pregnancy, and the ability to tighten after the baby is born and it all settles back down again. Nursing bras have clips on the straps to easily access the breast, and some of our new style nursing bras actually use magnets which makes it even easier still!

breastfeeding bras

When Should I Buy a Nursing Bra?

The rib cage expands in pregnancy to accommodate your bulging uterus and the baby growing inside it, and during this time some women can go up 2 or 3 back sizes. For this reason we advise that you come to get fitted regularly during your pregnancy to ensure that you are wearing the correct size wireless or flexi-wire bra right from the outset when you see that little blue line on the pregnancy stick.

You can wear a nursing bra at any stage of your pregnancy (some of ours are so pretty and comfy that we have women wearing them even if they’re not pregnant!) and we advise getting your final nursing bra fitting 3-5 weeks before your due date to ensure that you have something with you to take to the hospital that will fit well and be comfortable from the outset. When you’re packing your hospital bag you can pack everything but the kitchen sink for baby, but sometimes forget you! So don’t forget the essentials you will need, including that properly fitted nursing bra. 

Here at Mish we advise leaving the tags on just in case you are unable to breastfeed and we will fully refund you (as long as it’s unworn and you have the receipts!) should you no longer have use for a nursing bra once baby arrives. 

nursing bralette

What Size Nursing Bra Will I Need?

Many new mums make the mistake of choosing nursing bras “off the shelf” just with extra room in the cup. We really don’t advise doing this as an ill-fitting cup won’t offer your breasts that much-needed extra support required and it can lead to problems. 

We can’t accentuate enough the need to get properly fitted by a bra fitting specialist to ensure that your nursing bra is comfortable and correctly-fitting. This is important for your health and comfort; two things which all women need to consider and not just when nursing. A good nursing bra will have stretchy fabric on the top of the cup; this will allow for movement in the breast as it produces milk. Don’t just size up and hope for the best – you will need to visit a proper bra fitting specialist and be correctly fitted to ensure you are looking after your boob’s best interests.   

How Many Nursing Bras Will I Need?

We get asked this a lot! We always recommend starting off with at least two nursing bras so that you can have one in the wash and one on the go. Even with good breast pads (we recommend Hotmilk washable nursing pads), your bras are still likely to get milk-sodden and need washing more regularly than would a ‘normal’ bra. You’re likely to be wearing your nursing bra to bed (see next point) so washing will be required more frequently than you would for a normal bra that you only wear during the day. Definitely start with two nursing bras and then get remeasured a few months in when your milk supply has settled and your boobs aren’t fluctuating so much as in those early days of new motherhood. 

Should I Wear a Nursing Bra to Bed?

We find that most breastfeeding mums like to wear a bra to bed, and this is for two reasons. Firstly, night time is often when milk production is at its highest (hence the sleepless nights!) so leakage might be common and you’ll need breast pads, and breast pads need something to go in – a bra! Secondly; support. Your boobs are likely to be tender and need some extra support when you’re lactating so a comfortable bra is crucial so you can wear it at night too. Seamless multifit bras and nighttime maternity bras such as this one from Hotmilk will prove a god-send for a more comfortable night’s sleep. 

sleeping bra for nursing

Are Underwire Nursing Bras Harmful?

There’s lots of talk about underwires causing mastitis or stopping lactation. Research shows that an ill-fitting bra which is too tight and squeezes the breast tissue will actually cause more damage than a wired bra that is perfectly and correctly fitted, wired or not. 

Correctly fitted underwired bras can be worn during pregnancy, but we don’t recommend the use of underwire bras during the first three months of your pregnancy or the first 6 weeks post-partum because these are the times when your breasts are fluctuating most. Regular changes in your breast (you’ll find that they can even change hourly!) will inhibit it from fitting perfectly into the cup and could cause some hindrance to you.

What is a Flexiwire Bra?

Flexiwire bras (such as the ProjectMe Warrior nursing bra) are a good alternative to normal underwired bras whilst pregnant, and are a very popular option for pregnant mums. A flexi-wire bra contains a lighter, more flexible wire in it than traditional wired bras. The flexible wire sits in the wire channel in much the same way as in your regular underwire bra, but is more supple and bendy. Flexible wire that is specially designed for nursing bras generally have a wider smile (curve) to help ensure that it sits comfortably below the breast tissue and not on it. If you feel like you want wire then ensure you’re properly fitted and the nursing bra is high quality from a reputable brand (have a look through our range of nursing bras and lingerie to see what we suggest!)

Where Can I Buy Nursing Sports Bras?


If you are a sporty type and can’t wait to get back to your fitness regime after baby arrives then a nursing sports bra will be a necessity because your milk-filled boobs will be heavier and more sensitive than they were pre-baby. Even when not nursing, breasts can move 8.26 inches during exercise as they move up and down, in and out and from side to side! So a good quality supportive nursing sports bra is a must. With cooling breathable panels and sports elastic under the bust to anchor the bra to the body, a nursing sports bra is quite a technical addition to the maternity wardrobe.  Hotmilk make a great range of nursing sports bras for the larger bust such as this Activate Sports flexiwire nursing bra. The good news is that if you exercise/workout when your baby is not around, then it’s fine to wear your usual sports bra. 

Where Can I Find Nursing Bras for the Bigger Bust?

Here at Mish we specialise in providing bras for the fuller bust, and our nursing bras are no different. We stock a beautiful (and comfortable!) range of stunning nursing bras for the bigger bust from maternity lingerie specisliasts Hotmilk, ProjectMe and Sugar Candy

When you’re exhausted and not feeling like yourself, at least you can smile at the knowledge that underneath that comfy old t-shirt is a beautiful sexy nursing bra making you feel incredible. And that’s priceless.    

Where to Find Nursing Bras in Cornwall

For an in-store nursing bra fitting just pop in to the Mish shop on Eddystone Court, Wadebridge and one of our specialists will be on hand to fit you. We can’t wait to welcome you and get you perfectly fitted into your choice of nursing bra to help your journey into motherhood run that little bit more smoothly… You’re too good to hide!