When you’re building out your nursery, it can be easy to forget to buy things for yourself, especially any clothing — but if you’re planning to breastfeed, you’re going to need a bit of supplies to keep baby and their food source as easily and conveniently connected as possible. Enter the nursing bra.
Buying your first nursing bras is something you should take seriously. After all, these little (or, in some cases, not so little) undergarments will play a major role in your life for the next few months.
You want a nursing bra that fits, is functional and maybe even a little fashionable (yes, it is possible to have all three!).
Picking the Right Style Bra
In general, nursing bras come in a few select styles:
Most new moms recommend having at least three nursing bras on hand before giving birth if you plan to breastfeed, with one of those nursing bras being an overnight bra.
Dhanya G, a parenting expert on Parenting Passage and author of 3-Day Potty Training Boot Camp, also adds some insight. Dhanya shares, “The best thing to do is get measured at around 8 months for the bra so you are prepared once you give birth. Look for a seamless bra where the top part of the cup is made from stretchy fabric - this is so important as it can expand as you produce milk in the breast.”
“Also a lot of support is needed so a wide band really is helpful,” Dhanya continues.
Pumping vs. Nursing Bras
When you shop, be careful to notice which bras are nursing-friendly versus pump-friendly.
Nursing bras look very similar to a normal bra, but have a clasp or snap or easily movable fabric, so your baby can quickly and easily reach its food source.
A pumping bra, on the other hand, allows you to keep the pump flanges attached to the bra while you go about your business.
Some bras can do both, but not always. If you specifically want your nursing bra to double as a hands-free pumping bra, you’ll need to look for that feature specifically.
Ready to Start Shopping?
Check out these 13 best nursing bras below, sworn by nursing moms all over the world to be just the thing they needed when they began breastfeeding.
Bravado's nursing bra offers a ton of support and comfort — so much so that some moms have reported that they continue wearing and loving the bra well past when they stop nursing, which is saying a lot.
The bra is wire-free, but still offers a lot of support. The four-way stretch fabric changes to fit your breasts as they grow and shift. Foam inserts can be removed or used as needed, and the cups drop effortlessly away during feeding time.
Available at department stores, the bra is on the pricier side, with retail price being around $50, but you can’t put a price on comfort, especially after giving birth. You can find this bra in sizes ranging from XS to 2X, in a range of colors.
At the same price point, this Natori maternity bra comes in a few different styles, all offering the clips that allow you to remove the cup and breastfeed with ease.
The design is particularly nice because the bra looks just like a regular bra, lace included.
Moms tout its comfort and support, shape and durability. However, they do note that if you’re not a fan of underwire, this bra might not be for you, especially during the earlier, more painful days of breastfeeding. But if you are looking for a nursing bra that looks more like lingerie, this is a great option.
You may have heard of ThirdLove, the new-ish bra brand that’s been taking the undergarment world by storm. The brand’s classic nursing bra is an award-winner, and for good reason.
The padded underwire bra looks like something you’d buy at your favorite specialty store but is outfitted with hooks for easy breast access and thin memory foam cups for an individualized fit for every woman. There’s no tag, and the strap adjusters come in gold, while the bra itself is made from spandex and cotton.
The bra is on the pricier side at $72, but it does come in a huge array of sizes, including cup sizes A through I and offers a standard hook and eye closure.
If you like to support small brands and sustainable clothing manufacturers, you can’t go wrong with the Boob Fast Food T-Shirt Bra from Boob Design.
The ultra-soft bra features removable pads and clips to move the cup as needed. There’s even a bra extender that allows you to adjust the bra a little further.
At $59, the bra is made with primarily recycled and sustainable materials, none of which contain potentially harmful chemicals.
If you’re specifically looking for a bra that allows you to pump and nurse, you might want to check out this mom favorite from Kindred Bravely. Also around $50, it boasts a nice amount of support and comfort, and some moms find it’s comfortable enough to go from day to night wear with ease.
The bra fits standard pump flanges and comes in a large number of sizes, 30B to 44I.
But what if you really need a more affordable nursing bra? After all, babies are expensive. If you can cut costs in certain areas without cutting comfort, why wouldn’t you?
The iLoveSIA line of nursing bras are particularly favored by moms on a budget. They’re around $30 for not just one bra, but for a three-pack, meaning you could get six bras in total for just a little over what you might pay for one bra from another brand.
The bras are made from a stretchy fabric that’s not too tight, but tight enough to offer the support you need. The clipped cups pull away easily, with a snap.
The bras are sized from small to XXL and come in three colors — black, nude and white — all of which come in a three-pack. If you are looking for a comfortable plus-size nursing bra, you can't go wrong with this wire-free and seamless option.
Why suffer through falling bra straps and a nursing bra that needs to be adjusted every five seconds? With this seamless, always-stays-in-place nursing bra, you don’t have to.
The cups mold to your breasts, and the straps are made from a material that stays in place, no matter which way you move around. The foam nursing pads are removable, but many moms appreciate the shape the pads provide when you’re wearing a shirt. The adjustable straps can be connected for a racerback bra style.
This bra starts at $40 on Amazon and $50 at Cake Maternity.
Let’s face it — you just feel more put together whenever your bra and underwear match. It’s even better if they match and they’re pretty.
Thanks to Hotmilk, you can enjoy the feeling of matched undergarments once again, with matching sets of nursing bras and panties, all in pretty designs with extra color, lace and bows.
As for function, the $60 and up wireless bras offer cotton-lined soft cups, wireless shaping and sizes from 32B to 42H.
Another pump-friendly option, this very versatile bra is great if you want to pump while multitasking, whether you’re doing laundry or just want to kick up your feet and watch television without doing any extra work.
The soft fabric bra holds bottles and flanges tightly in place, no need for you to manually hold a thing. It works with most breast pumps, too.
The bra is very versatile, with straps that allow you to wear it as a tank, racerback or halter, as well as an adjustable velcro back and it’s affordable, at just $30.
Another very budget-friendly pick, this nursing bra is under $30 for another three-pack and preferred by those moms who just know they’re going to go through nursing bras quickly.
The bra is very comfortable for the price, offers a lot of coverage regardless of breast size, and there’s no underwire for added comfort with the drop-down cups.
Plus, since the bras come in a three-pack, you always have an extra on hand during laundry day.
For those women who still somehow have B cups even while nursing, it might not make sense to purchase multiple nursing bras when a nursing cami will work just as well.
This option from Motherhood Maternity is affordable, at less than $25, and stylish. New moms report they last a long time, are extra-long for all the coverage you need and very comfortable. The nursing clips are easy to undo on the go or while holding the baby. Because it’s a nursing tank, if you just want to wear it around the house with your favorite sweats, you’re totally able to.
When buying a nursing sleep bra, you want it to be very comfortable, very soft, very adjustable and, well — just plain easy to sleep in. A favorite option is the French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra. It fits several sizes, is stretchy and soft, allows easy access for baby and features absolutely no wires.
It’s only $30 at regular price.
If you want to splurge on a sexy nursing bra, this option from Le Mystere is the way to go. At around $60, it’s more affordable than some, but it really ups the ante as far as sexy nursing bras go.
The contoured shape is flattering, and the all-over lace design will remind you of the bras you were likely wearing in the days before your pregnancy.
In terms of function, the bra offers adjustable straps, leak-absorbing pads, memory foam cups, a high level of support and even a feeding sling.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Nursing Bra
There are a few things you’ll want to consider when you shop for your first nursing bras:
In terms of timing, don’t wait until after the baby comes home to buy those nursing bras. Get them ahead of time, so they’re ready and one less thing to worry about.
For size, keep in mind that, just like the size of your breasts have changed over the course of your pregnancy, they’ll do the same thing right after birth and as you start breastfeeding. You’ll likely need nursing bras in several sizes, or you may want to specifically look for a bra that adjusts to fit a wide range of sizes. Additionally, it’s not just your breast size that’s changed; your rib cage expands throughout pregnancy, which may also play a role in your changing bra size and finding the perfect fit.
When it comes to comfort and support, you may find your needs are very different from what they were before you became pregnant. You may want to skip the flimsy, lacy bras with little to no coverage or the tight-fitting sports bras for the time being. Go for a bra that’s your correct size (get fitted, if you need to) and make sure to get a bra that offers plenty in the way of back support.
Of course, access is very important when it comes to nursing bras. Baby’s gotta get their food, after all! You don’t want to be dealing with a bra that makes it difficult for your baby to access their food source.
Look for nursing bras with clips that make it easy to remove pieces of the bra when it’s feeding time, without taking the bra off entirely, or a bra that’s stretchy enough to allow you to move it aside as desired.
Lastly, you may think you don’t want any padding, as it’s one more thing you have to move out of the way when moving your bra around each feeding time. However, some users find padded bras give their breasts a more “normal” look under clothing, and others appreciate that padded bras can sometimes mask leaks.
Having a Baby is Hard — Shopping for Your Nursing Bra Shouldn’t Be
As with buying everything for your first birth, shopping for good nursing bras can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from stocking up on everything you need to welcome baby home before you go into labor.
When you slide into a comfy, functional bra as soon as you start breastfeeding, you’ll thank yourself for preparing ahead of time.
You might also be interested in: The 8 Most Comfortable Bras [And How They are Actually Supposed to Fit]
The 13 Best Nursing Bras:
- Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra
- Natori Hidden Glamour Maternity Bra
- ThirdLove 24/7 Classic Nursing Bra
- Boob Fast Food T-Shirt Bra
- Kindred Bravely Sublime Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra
- iLoveSIA Nursing Bras
- Cake Maternity Rock Candy Seamless Nursing Bra
- Hotmilk Women’s Show-Off Nursing and Maternity Bra
- Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breastpump Bra
- Hofish Seamless Nursing Bra
- Motherhood Maternity Clip-Down Nursing Cami
- Kindred Bravely French Terry Racerback Nursing & Sleep Bra
- Le Mystere Sexy Mama Nursing Bra