When to Buy Your First Maternity Bra

Maternity and nursing bras are one of the most essential items for pregnant and breastfeeding mums. We're often asked, "when should I buy my first maternity bra?" We explore this question - and more - in this blog!

When to start wearing maternity bras 

Every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach. However, a good rule of thumb to follow is this: As soon as your regular bras feel tight or comfortable, it's time to buy maternity bras. For some women, this may happen at around week six of pregnancy, thanks to all those wonderful hormones.   

It's so important to wear comfortable, supportive bras at all stages of pregnancy. If your regular bra is giving you indentations where the band and straps are, or if your boobs are spilling out of the cups, or it feels too tight all over - it is definitely time to invest in a new maternity bra. 

So.... what is a maternity bra?

Maternity bras are bras engineered specifically for pregnancy and breastfeeding - they're designed to support your growing breasts, mould to your changing shape, and keep you super comfortable . 

Maternity bras are generally wire-free for ultimate comfort, and have wider straps and bands for support. Maternity bras are often made in stretchy fabrics, and have a flexible under-bust band, to accommodate your expanding rib cage. 

Maternity bras often have extra hooks and eyes on the band, so you have more options for adjusting the band. They're also made in stretchy and breathable fabrics, to keep you cool and comfortable.

What's the difference between maternity bras and nursing bras?

Traditionally, maternity bras and nursing bras were always different. A maternity bra was for wearing during pregnancy only, and a nursing bra was for once baby was born. 

Nowadays, it's more common for maternity bras to ALSO be breastfeeding friendly. We're all for this! It gives you longevity out of every maternity bra, and means less bras to buy as you transition into motherhood. 

All Close to the Heart maternity bras are breastfeeding friendly, either with clips for drop-down access, or with a crossover design.

We don't believe women should have to buy one set of bras for pregnancy, and then a completely new set once baby is born! Our bras are designed to take you from pregnancy, to breastfeeding, and beyond (trust us, they're so comfortable you'll want to keep wearing them well after baby is born!) 

If I maternity bra in early pregnancy, will I outgrow it later?

As we said earlier... we're all different and experience pregnancy changes in our own unique ways.

There is a chance you might need to buy new maternity bras later in pregnancy, if the bras you brought at the start of pregnancy start to feel too tight. 

HOWEVER! Don't part with your outgrown maternity bras just yet! Once baby is born, your milk has regulated, and your rib-cage has shifted back into place, you may find the bras you bought early in pregnancy, fit again! 

To help increase the longevity of your maternity bra, look for bras with at least 6 rows of hook - so you have more options for adjusting the band. 

If you're buying a maternity bra in early pregnancy, you'll want to do the hooks up on one of the inner rows, so that you can adjust the band to give you more room as you grow. 

How big will my breasts get in pregnancy?

It's impossible to predict how big your boobs will get, or how many cup or band sizes you will increase in pregnancy. Many women will increase 2 or more cup sizes and 2 – 4 band sizes. You might grow more than this, or not as much! 

In early pregnancy, your cup size may go up a notch or two. Between weeks 26 and 30 weeks, your band size may grow as your rib cage expands. Your cup size may increase again in later pregnancy as your body prepares for birth.

Once baby is born, when your first milk comes in, your breasts will temporarily expand another cup size or two. Once your milk supply regulates, this engorgement will subside, and you may go back to the size you were in mid-late pregnancy. 

Should I size up when buying maternity bras?

It might seem tempting to buy a size bigger when choosing a maternity bra, so that it will fit you down the track, but it's really not the best idea.

It's so important to wear supportive, well-fitting bras to support your sensitive tissue and growing bust. If you buy a size that is too big, with the hope it will fit you later, it won't give you the support you need. 

Also, no one can predict how big your boobs will get. If you buy a size up, you might find your boobs never fill it!

The most important thing is to choose a bra that is comfortable, supportive, and well-fitting for your current size and shape. And remember, if you outgrow a maternity bra, you may find you fit it again once baby is born.  

How many maternity bras should I buy?

When it comes to buying maternity bras, we often suggest the rule of three: One to wear, one in the wash, and one in the clean washing pile. That way, you'll always have one on hand to wear! 

How to find the best maternity bras

  • Find the best maternity bras in NZ by asking your friends which brands and styles they love!
  • Read reviews and forums to find recommendations 
  • Try on a few brands, styles, and sizes to find the best fit
  • If you're shopping online, make sure the brand offers easy exchanges if the size or fit isn't right 
  • Choose wire-free maternity bras! 
  • Look for maternity bras that are wire-free and have sturdy seams and straps, and wide shoulder straps
  • When trying on a bra, the cup should enclose the whole breast, and your breasts shouldn't spill out the sides or in the middle.
  • The cup shouldn't be too lose. Bend forward and check if the cup gapes - if it does, the bra may be too big
  • The band should form a straight line around the body, and not pull up at the back. 
  • You should be able to place a finger between the shoulder straps and your shoulder, and the straps shouldn't dig in.
  • If the band is sitting high at the back, you may have shortened the straps too much. 

In summary

It's never too early to buy a maternity bra! Comfort and support is key at all stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding, so make sure you always have a supportive, well-fitting maternity bra on hand. 


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