Four of the best nursing bras (and how to shop for one)March 16, 2017
When the nesting started in my pregnancy, one part of the house that got hit hard was my underwear drawer. Lurking in the back were my nursing bras from two years ago, and they were very VERY sad looking. One bra, a white stretchy number, accidentally offered a peek-a-boo design, where months of applying nipple cream had made the fabric perish. Depressing stuff… As well as being unworthy for the recycling bin, they offered zero support and were weirdly high cut, limiting what I could wear even more, so I binned them.
Then for a few weeks I kept getting reminders from my pregnancy app about packing the hospital bag, with perky alerts and bossy checklists. I duly started, but the bras were conspicuous by their absence. On a maternity pad shopping spree (ah, the glamour!) to Mothercare I checked out their selection, but it was more of the same, and styles that weren’t available for D+ cups – which most women add up being, at least temporarily when the milk comes in.
Then the lovely Kate from TKD got in touch, asking if I wanted to come in for a fitting.
I first started shopping at this gorgeous little lingerie boutique – that specialises in D to K cups – five years ago. I was gleeful at its opening after having spent far too long either bulk buying bras when back in the UK (there was a particularly expensive trawl after a wine-soaked lunch in London. Don’t drink and shop, ladies) or buying, frankly, rubbish bras from non-specialists that lasted minutes, the underwiring stabbing me in the heart as punishment for being so cheap. Suddenly, there was a little corner of Dubai where I knew I’d get great service – and the bras I needed.
The store is owned by Kate Kikano, and she quickly gained a reputation for exceptionally well-trained staff and brilliant bras for bigger busted beauties. There’s also swimwear and nightwear, and they will go above and beyond to track down what you’re looking for, including smaller sizes in the maternity, nursing and sports ranges.
Whether pregnant or not, the fitting involves looking at the current bra you’re wearing, and discussing your requirements eg there’s no tape measure, and you’ll walk out with what you want or need. In this case, I was on the hunt for nursing bras that a) didn’t make me sad b) didn’t leave my boobs next to my belly button c) I wouldn’t be mortified to flash if my breastfeeding cover let me down.
Store manager Bridgit reckoned I’d need three or four bras, and together we narrowed down their vast selection – seriously, things have changed on that, umm, front a lot in the last two years, and brands are offering more and more to new mums. TKD also has nursing tanks, which can be a great night-time option, or worn under non-nursing clothes, plus nursing swimwear and even a sports bra that’s compatible with pumping.
Show Off by Hot Milk, which is really pretty, and hoiked by boobs up nice and high, giving me a waist while still being easy to wear. It comes with matching knickers, for when you’re finally ready to ditch the baggy cotton granny pants.
Croissant Smoothing Flexi Wire Spacer Bra by Cake for a seamless look and really good support. This bra is stretchy, so great for those first few weeks when your supply is up and down.
Parfait Flexi Wire Lace Nursing Bra, also from Cake, which doesn’t look like a nursing bra and would be great for a night out if I had the energy for an actual night out.
Eleanor Nursing Bra by Panache – a classic T-shirt bra. Super wearable, there’s a lovely lace detail and the smooth cups are great for disguising breast pads. Seriously. These are my concerns now.
Since wearing them my post-baby wardrobe options have massively expanded (not to be under-estimated, because if I wear that stripy dress one more time I might burn it) and I’m feeling so much more confident about breastfeeding in public. Mostly, though, my boobs look really good.
Here are some top tips from the TKD team on bra buying when you’re a mum to be…
1) When to get fitted?
This can vary from woman to woman, but generally you would be looking at a fitting in each of the three trimesters. The last one being around two weeks before you are due for nursing bras. On average a woman goes up two band sizes and between two to four cup sizes during pregnancy.
If you wait until after the milk comes in, be mindful that most women have around one week of feeling swollen and tender when it might be best to choose a seam-free stretch nursing bra.
2) How many to buy?
There’s no need to go overboard, especially as your size will continue to change. Three bras is generally sufficient. One to wear, one in the wash, and one in your drawer.
3) Finding the right bra size
Firstly, remember up to 80% of us are wearing the wrong size bra and your size may well change according to the style, brand and materials of the bra, so always have a professional bra fitting. When fitting a bra, look for the following:
- A back band that doesn’t ride up (too loose) or is too tight.
- Straps that are firm but comfortable. (70% of the support should come from the band and cups rather than the straps.)
- With wired bras ensure the wires follow the shape of your breasts without encroaching on them.
- When breast feeding only choose soft cup or flexible wire styles.
- Cups shouldn’t gape or leave a double busting appearance.
4) Make your bras last
During pregnancy always set a new bra to the tightest hook setting, so you have room to loosen it as you grow. Look for bras that have at least 6 sets of hook and eyes. Fit one cup size larger during pregnancy to allow for expansion and choose a bra with stretch in the top of the cup.
5) Should I wear wires?
Many women prefer underwire bras as they give better lift and shape. However rigid underwires are not recommended during pregnancy or lactation due to your changing breast shape. When breastfeeding, your breast size alters throughout the day, as milk is produced and removed. A rigid underwire may put pressure on the breast when it is fuller, which can lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis. However, there are now nursing bras available that have a flexible low-gauge wire support, designed to flex and change position with your changing shape. Correctly fitting flexible wire bras give you both shape and comfort!
6) 10 things to look for in a nursing bra
- Thicker straps for support and comfort
- Supportive lower cup with a strong mid-layer for lift
- Good top cup stretch to cater for growth without restriction
- Several hooks and eyes (6+) to accommodate expansion of ribcage
- Nickel free hooks and sliders
- Double layered, broad back band and sides for support and durability
- Deep centre for extra support
- Quality fabrics and cotton lined cups for comfort and to enable skin to breathe
- Internalised seams to avoid irritation
- Easy drop cups
7) When to be refitted post-breastfeeding
After you have finished breastfeeding you should consider going for a fitting again. Generally, you should wait around 8 weeks after you have finished breastfeeding before going for a fitting. Even if your pre-pregnancy bras seem comfortable, you may discover that there are changes in the structure and shape of your breasts and therefore a different style of bra may now be more suitable.
TKD Lingerie is located in Town Centre Jumeirah (next to Mercato), Beach Road, opening hours are 10.00 – 22.00 Saturday – Thursday, 13.30 – 22.00 on Friday. Tel +971 4 385 6353 www.tkdlingerie.com.