During my first pregnancy, I didn’t really think much about what I needed for breastfeeding aside from the decision that I’ll need a pump when I got back to work. I didn’t factor in much about my wardrobe. Obviously I had grown several sizes larger, so I figured I’d just use my maternity clothes while I haven’t yet lost the baby weight. No problem. So, “nursing bra”… what was that?
Lessons I learned on having a nursing bra when you breastfeed:
- You need one.
Imagine trying to breastfeed and having to hitch up your top and hold it up with your chin, unhook your bra from the back and pull it over your breasts, and position your screaming, hungry, impatient infant in such a way that you’ll be sure the baby latches on properly. Imagine doing this for the first few times. Imagine having to do this in the car, in a nursing station in the mall, or anywhere out of the comfort and privacy of your room. Imagine doing this while the other breast is also leaking milk while baby feeds on the other side. Then, imagine having to put your bra back on and hooking it up again (while still holding your infant) and fixing yourself up again after your baby breastfeeds. Don’t get me started on doing this while wearing fitted tops, or tops with zippers, buttons, hooks that can come off or even scratch your precious little one’s skin (that’s another BFF right there).
So yeah, if you plan to prolong breastfeeding, you’ll need a nursing bra.
- Pre- and Post-pregnancy cup sizes are not the same.
So you gain weight during pregnancy. During my second pregnancy when I already learned lesson #1, I planned to just invest in bras that could be used during maternity and nursing to save time and money. The salesladies in the department stores even told me as much, and even suggested that I might want to buy one with a little extra room in the cup to make sure it wouldn’t be tight when the milk came in. So I did.
That actually didn’t turn out very well for me. The fit just wasn’t right anymore postpartum. My size also kept fluctuating those first couple of months, I guess while my milk supply was still erratic and stabilizing. So, don’t buy a nursing bra one or two months after birth and expect that your cup size won’t change anymore. A good fit is important, since it means good support for all that milk weight, will help avoid clogging, and will mean that it won’t be pressing too much on already sore breasts. So best to buy those nursing bras after two months.
So what will you use in the meantime?
- Try out sports bras.
Since the maternity/nursing bras I had just weren’t comfortable, I turned to using my sports bras. These actually worked out quite well when I was staying put at home for the first several weeks while my size fluctuated since they were soft and flexible. And since I was at home, had more leeway to maneuver whenever baby wanted milk.
But, since sports bras are mostly one-piece things with no set cups or contour, the nursing pads I used tended to move around and get misplaced when I was doing a lot of walking or when I was maneuvering to breastfeed outside of the house. Also, wearing sports bras under my clothes made me feel extra warm when I went out and wasn’t in an air-conditioned room. Nursing bras were more comfortable for me in this scenario. So, I eventually went with mostly wearing sports bras when at home, and nursing bras for when I went out.
- Use bra extenders.
I used bra extenders during my maternity, which I also used when I started using nursing bras. Since I planned to lose the pregnancy weight, when I shopped for nursing bras I just found the right cup size and got bras that needed extenders (read: masikip kasi malaki-laki pa ang kailangan ipayat!). I just stopped using the extenders when I started losing weight about four months after giving birth since I didn’t need them anymore (read: medyo pumayat na ako, kaya sakto na hehe).
- Not all nursing bras are created equal.
Choose colors and styles that fit your wardrobe. Oh, and for the nursing bras, the hooks matter! Get the snap on-snap off ones, since you can maneuver these with even one hand and won’t have to fumble as much. I had one that had hooks instead of snaps, and it was so frustrating to close or open.
So those are my tips on the Nursing Bras BFF (Breastfeeding Find, more on that here). Next, to protect your bra (and your wardrobe) from being stained with leaking milk, check out my BFF 5-Nursing Pads on Thursday!