how to buy a nursing bra

How to buy a nursing bra and when you should do it

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Most breastfeeding moms will reach a point where they would rather let it all hang out and just let their baby feed when they want. But eventually you will need to leave the house or you’re going to have company over. There’s also the mess of leaky boobs… Which is why you’re going to need a nursing bra.

What should I look for when I’m buying a nursing bra?

  • Comfort – Your bra should support the girls, but it should not compress your breasts. You do not want a poor fitting bra as this can lead to plugged milk ducts, inflammation, and even mastitis (an infection of your breasts). More on how to get the right size and fit later.
  • Ease of use – You want to find a bra that is easy to open with one hand as you’ll probably have your baby in your other hand. You should be able to open the bra discreetly at feeding time. I like popper (like on onesies) or hook and clip fasteners.
  • Support – Your breasts will be sore and heavy as they fill with milk. You want a bra that has wider bands and at least 3-4 hooks for the most support. Some prettier bras will have only two hooks, but don’t be seduced! A thin bra band will not be strong enough to support your breasts.

When should I buy a nursing bra?

Your breasts will grow and be at their biggest the week after you give birth. As you nurse, your breasts will slowly shrink down in size.

I doubt you’ll be in the mood to go shopping after giving birth, so you should go buy a nursing bra about 2-3 weeks before your delivery date. Your breasts will be bigger than normal, but not as big as when your milk supply comes in.

Get two nursing bras so you’ll have one to wear while the other is in the wash. Don’t buy a bunch though. These bras will fit for a couple weeks. At about 6 weeks, your breasts will shrink down a lot as your milk supply stabilizes. You will end up buying new nursing bras as your breasts slowly shrink during the first year after birth.

What size nursing bra should I buy?

You will need a tape measure to find your bra size. If you already have a good fitting bra (your breasts are not spilling over the cups) then you should wear your bra while you measure. If your current bra is too small for your swollen breasts (it probably is), you can take your measurements with nothing on. You’ll need to measure multiple times to get the right number, but it’s doable.

First you will need to find your chest measurement. Measure across your back, right under your armpits, and along the crease at the underside of your breasts. The tape measure should ride higher on your back, at around the midpoint of your breasts.

Next you will need to measure all the way around your back and your breasts at the nipple level. This is why I said wearing a bra would make this easier. If your breasts droop (as most women’s do), use a table or another pair of hands to gently lift them up to the level they’re at when you’re wearing a bra. You might have to measure a couple times in a couple positions to get an accurate number.

Now you will need to do some math to find your cup size.

Cup size = (breast measurement at nipples) – (chest measurement)

  • 1″ = A cup
  • 2″ = B cup
  • 3″ = C cup
  • 4″ = D cup
  • 5″ = E cup
  • 6″ = F or EE cup
  • 7″ = G or EEE cup
  • 8″ = H or EEEE cup


If you are taking the size of your breasts before you begin breast feeding, you will want to go up a cup size from your current size.

Where can I buy a nursing bra online?

For the biggest variety of brands, sizes, and easy returns, Amazon is a good place to get a nursing bra.

Since your bra size will constantly change, you don’t need to spend too much money for a boutique bra brand like Wacoal. The best rated nursing bras all come in at under $70.

Here are some affordable nursing bras with stretchy cups that adjust to your changing body. Some even have removable pads or double as pumping bras.

The best nursing bra for under D cups

The Bravado Body Silk Seamless nursing bra is the highest rated bra if your cup size isn’t too extreme for your rib cage. For smaller rib cages, the bra goes up to a D cup and for larger 40″+ sizes, the cup size goes up to G. It has a very supportive wide band with three hooks, no underwires, and the front panel can be removed by undoing a single clip at each shoulder strap. The bra also comes with foam inserts to help smooth and hide the appearance of hard nipples and hide the bumps of a nursing pad.

The best nursing bra for sizes larger breast sizes: E,F,G,H,I cups

If you don’t want to deal with uncomfortable underwire while you’re nursing, then you will want to get a nursing bra like the Cake Lingerie Maternity Seamless Cotton Candy Bra. It has criss-cross racer back style straps and a 3 hook band to distribute the weight of your breasts across your entire back so you don’t end up with the shoulder straps digging painfully into your shoulders. There are no underwires and the fabric is a light stretchy cotton that will not irritate your breasts or give you mastitis. The front is double lined so you don’t have to worry about your nipples or the outline of your nursing pad showing through. There is a line of elastic that runs through the middle to separate your breasts so they won’t end up squished together and the front panel can be unhooked with just one hand.

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