The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Bra Shopping

A good fitting bra is under appreciated in our world.  Most women think they have the right bra but it turns out that up to 80% of us might be wrong.  When a women is nursing it is more important then ever to have the right fitting bra.  A bra that is too tight can cause plugged ducts which could lead to nasty infections like mastitis.  A bra that is too loose does not provide the needed support to sore, uncomfortable breasts.

I was one of the 80% but I have recently found the right size bra and its like a whole new world.  My band and shoulder straps stay in place now.  My underwire support lifts and separates instead of stabs and annoys.  Lastly my clothes fit better and I look thinner and all I did was find the right bra.

When Thing 2 turned 1 she was still nursing and showed no signs of stopping.  I decided this meant I can indulge myself in a few new nursing bras.  I came across Melissa’s yahoo shop, Breakout Bras.  I knew my size had probably changed since I had been nursing for so long so I checked out her sizing page and was shocked at what I had found.

Other online shops that I had shopped at (including the manufacturer’s sites) instructed you to measure your band size and then add a few inches, usually something between 2 and 5.  Breakout Bras doesn’t have you do that.  Your band size is supposed to be your band size. PERIOD.  Band sizes come in even numbers so you can round up to the closest even number. Done.  No adding inches to increase the cup size so that you can fit into a manufacturers ill-fitting but available sizes.  Following the ‘old’ instructions I thought I needed a 40 or 42” band but it turns out that I was supposed to be wearing a 36” band this whole time!  What a huge difference this number has made.

Turns out having a snug (not tight) band is extremely important when it comes to holding up the ladies.  Most of the support of the bra comes from this band not the shoulder straps like most of us assume.  The band will lose elasticity over time so it’s important that when you first purchase the bra that it be snug on the loosest setting.  This way you still have room to tighten it once it starts to stretch out.  To extend the life even further you can order one band size down and use a bra extender but remember to adjust the cup size to assure a good fit.

Here are the measuring instructions from Breakout Bras:

Step #1: Get a soft measuring tape.

This is the only type of measuring tape that can be used for accurate measurements. If you do not have one, you can get one a Wal-mart or many other stores for less than a dollar.

Step #2: Take off your bra.

The measurements you take will be much more accurate if your bra is off. Almost all women wear cup sizes that are too small which smashes the breasts down causing the measurement to seem smaller than they really are. If your breasts hang or sag, just try and get someone to help you so that you can prop your breasts up while measuring. If you really need to, just take the measurements with a bra on. The size will still be a lot closer than anything you have been wearing and the fit a whole lot better. And if you need help or feel the numbers are just not making sense, just take BOTH measurements, one with the bra on and one with the bra off and call us and we will help you determine the best size.

Step #3: Measure around your rib cage.

This measurement will help you determine your band size. So measure right underneath your breasts where a bra band would normally sit. Make sure that you keep the tape level all the way around and pull the two sided together until they meet and lie flat against your body. Do not pull too tightly but it does need to be somewhat snug. Whatever number you get here, in almost all cases just needs to be rounded up to the nearest even number. So if the measurement is 33 than you would just round up to 34. Very easy. But there is one exception to this rule. If you measure 34 1/4 or een 34 1/2, you should round down to 34 instead. The reason for this is simple. Bras lose elasticity every time you wear them so the fit will only get less and less supportive the longer you wear the bra. So when you first purchase a bra it needs to feel snug but not too tight on the LOOSEST hook. Then as the bra stretches from wear, you can move the hooks in tighter to maintain a higher level of support longer. If you buy a bra, and need to wear it on the tightest hook from the start, you have nowhere to go but to buy a new one when it starts getting stretched out. For a bra to be supportive, you must wear the correct band size.

**So for the above example, the band size is 34. I will use this measurement again below to determine the final size needed.

Step #4: Measure across the widest part of your bust line.

(NEVER MEASURE UNDER YOUR ARM PITS AND UP OVER THE TOP OF YOUR BREASTS AND NEVER ADD INCHES)

Just measure across your nipples at the widest part of your breasts. Nothing at all needs to be done to this number except rounding it up if the measurement falls between two numbers. So if you measure 41 1/2 just round it up to 42. This is it. Nothing else.

Step #5: Do a little math.

Now take the number from step 4 and subtract the number from step 3. This then gives you a cup size to go along with the band size that was determined earlier. The band size we had earlier was 34 and for the above example the bust measurement was a 42. So you have 42 – 34 = 8.

So you have a band size of 34 and an 8 inch difference for the cup size so your bra size is a 34H. Each number represents a cup size as the chart below details.

Breakout Bras has changed my life and I can’t say enough nice things about them.  When I took my measurements I did not believe I could wear a 36″ bra.  I have been told for years since high school that I should be in a size 40 at least.  I wrote Breakout Bras an email with my measurements looking for some guidance.  They were very responsive.  They assured me that I should be wearing a 36 band size and went further to recommend 4 different bras I might like and the exact cup size I would like in each too (since every manufacturer is just a little bit different).  I ordered all 4 and they all fit like a glove.

Melissa at Breakout Bras provides commentary on most of the bras they offer.  She gives her real opinions on if its supportive, pretty, runs small or large in the cup or band.  Its wonderful advice and very refreshing.  Most of the comments even include recommendations for other, better bras for some women.  This is beyond helpful since their inventory is endless and could take days to browse.  I really appreciate the enormous selection they have in larger and smaller sizes.

Did I mention they offer Free Shipping on every order!  Oh yea and they have return customer codes for 10% off.  If you aren’t a return customer you are in luck because they are offering 10% to everyone right now with code: BBSAVE10.  Treat yourself today.  Every woman deserves a bra that fits!

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Melissa Jarotkiewicz, Editor Melissa received a BS degree in Civil Engineering and is the proud stay at home mother of thing 1 and thing 2. Being the wife of an Air Force pilot means being the only parent for days, weeks and even months at a time. This chaotic and unpredictable life of a military mom calls for some serious retail therapy and Melissa puts her focus on baby gear and unfortunately for her husband the deal-a-day baby sites. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Melissa has lived in FL, OK, WA and just recently moved to Germany. She enjoys spending time with friends and family and watching college football in the fall. Go Irish!

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2 Comments on "The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Bra Shopping"

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Katie
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LOVE! Thanks Melissa J…I need a new nursing Bra 🙂

Kennedy
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Before getting pregnant I had a proper bra fitting done at Intimacy. It opened my eyes and made a world of difference. Finally my straps stayed up, there was no pinching, no bulging and my girls looked better than ever. Then I got pregnant and everything changed. Now that I am nursing my newborn I have found myself struggling to find the right nursing bra. I was horrified when I went to Pea in a Pod to get “fitted” for a nursing bra and they measured around the widest part of my chest and pronounced that number to be my… Read more »
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