Best Nursing Bras: How to Choose the Perfect Fit for You

by Kitty O’Callaghan

Best Nursing Bras: How to Choose the Perfect Fit for You

Image Credits: Spanx

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Back in the day, nursing bras were the orthopedic shoes of lingerie: very useful but also kind of demoralizing. Fortunately, most bra companies have come around to the idea that new moms might like to feel supported physically and emotionally. Today’s designs offer lots of styles, fabrics, and colors that cater to every mom’s size and situation, from firm, structured bras with seamed cups and wide bands to wrap-front seamless numbers that stretch like loungewear to handle months of shape-shifting.


Make no mistake: Choosing a feel-good nursing bra is not an indulgence, it is vital. Often worn 24/7, nursing bras may stay in your rotation for months or even years. Of course, the best nursing bras out there (see below) are only as good as their fit and function on your body, and no bra will work magic for everyone. And even the idea of your “perfect” nursing bra may change the longer you nurse, as your breasts settle into a different size or you return to work.


Whatever your situation, it’s always a good idea to try before you buy and to keep your online receipt for returns. (see below for fit tips). It may take more than a few trips to the dressing room to find what fits you and your miraculous body, but the results are worth it.



How Does a Nursing Bra Work?

Detachable panels or cups pull down or to the side, allowing you to nurse your baby without having to take off your entire bra. The panels are attached by a clasp on top of the shoulder band or along the base of the bra.


When Do I Need a Nursing Bra?

You’ll want a nursing bra for added support as soon as you start nursing. To give yourself time to find one that feels right, it makes sense to shop before your due date. Keep in mind that your breasts will certainly change when your milk comes in, both in size and soreness, so opt for a comfortable style where less is more — seamless and wireless.


Where Can I Buy a Nursing Bra?

The easiest place to find nursing bras, of course, is online. Type in “nursing bras” and you will be flooded with results. Luckily, you can find sizing calculators to help you find a good fit before you click and buy. For brick-and-mortar options, you can choose from many national retailers, like Macy’s, Target, Nordstrom, and Walmart, which carry nursing bras. (Tip: Call first to see if they are currently in stock.) Or you can go to a maternity boutique, such as Motherhood Maternity. This type of specialty store will not only carry nursing bras but also may have a professional fitter on staff who can help you find the right size and comfortable fit.


Do I Need a Nursing Bra?

In other words, “Why can’t I just wear a regular bra in a larger size?” Well, you can but why make yourself crazy? Nursing bras are designed to make things easier for you and your baby as you both try to make nursing work. The clasped pull-down or pull-aside panels make feeding convenient without sacrificing support. As any veteran mom can tell you, lactating breasts can be uncomfortably heavy or rock hard when engorged with milk or sore to the touch if you are struggling with mastitis or a blocked duct. Regular bras are not designed to expose a breast and trying to make that work by pulling down or hiking up a side can put pressure on an already tender area. And last, but not least, nursing bra sizing is not limited to A-DD but offers up half of the alphabet.


What Are the Types of Nursing Bras?

Nursing bras come in a variety of styles, including:


        • Soft Cup Nursing Bra

          The most common nursing bra design features a flexible molded cup support instead of underwire.


        • Sleep Nursing Bra

          Nighttime nursing bras give you support (a must for side sleepers) without hooks or clasps that dig into your skin.


        • Sports Nursing Bra

          Like regular sports bras, these nursing bras offer moisture-wicking material, more compression support, wider shoulder straps, and no-roll bands underneath.


        • Breast-pumping Nursing Bra

          These bras have slits or layered panels that fit a pump’s flange and allow for hands-free pumping. (Check sizing limits — this type of nursing bra may not work for larger cup sizes.)


        • Seamless Nursing Bra

          Cups made of stretchy material instead of constructed seams that could irritate already irritated nipples.


        • Strapless Nursing Bra

          Bandeau nursing bras with lift-up panels to let you wear strappy summer dresses, halters, or other shoulder-baring styles.


What Should I Consider When Choosing a Nursing Bra?

Nursing bras must be comfortable and convenient for you. Here are some design features that can be deal makers or deal breakers:


        • One-handed release: How easy is the clasp to fasten and unfasten? Remember your other hand will be holding a squirmy and impatient baby.
        • No-roll band: Without underwire, a wider, no-roll band helps keep you comfortable.
        • Extra padding on shoulder straps: At the upper end of the size chart, even the best-fitting bra can dig into the shoulders. Added padding can help prevent discomfort.
        • Extenders: A short band of extra hooks and eyes that lengthens the bra band. A very handy feature when your body can’t decide what size it is. Some nursing bras come with extenders included.
        • Nursing pads: Bras may come with removable nursing pads, which can save your bras and your shirts… and your pride.
        • Breathable fabric: It’s hard enough to stay dry in the first year of motherhood. Night sweats, leaking, baby spit-up… so look for nursing bras made from cotton or moisture-wicking fabric.
        • Fastening hooks or pull-over style: Whatever is most comfortable for you is the best for you. Note: If you’ve had a C-section, you may not be able to pull a bra over your head for a few weeks.


Now that you know everything about nursing bras, it’s time to pick one. Here are some of the best ones out there.


Best Everyday Nursing Bra

1 of 11 Image Credits: Amazon

Bravado! Designs Women’s Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra


This seamless bra offers a large range of sizes for all moms, has one-handed clasps at the straps and removable molded foam cups for modest, smooth coverage under tees.

Best Affordable Nursing Bra

2 of 11 Image Credits: Amazon

I LoveSia 3 Pack


For one budget-friendly price, this nursing bra 3-pack gives you one to wear, one to wash and one that’s ready to go. Design features include one-hand nursing clips, removable foam cups and seamless soft fabric.

Best Nighttime Nursing Bra

3 of 11 Image Credits: A Pea in the Pod

A Pea In the Pod Mesh Trim Wrap Nursing Bra


No hooks, no clasps, no kidding! This nighttime nursing bra is made of light spandex and pulls on over your head, with unlined breast panels that are easily pulled aside for nursing.

Best Breast-Pumping Nursing Bra

4 of 11 Image Credits: Amazon

Rumina Hands-Free Pumping and Nursing Bra


This unique bra design features overlapping fabric panels rather than fixed central openings, allowing you to bring the pump to the proper location of your nipple. Made of breathable, seamless cotton, this pullover bra is also great for nighttime.

Best Sexy Nursing Bra

5 of 11 Image Credits: Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities Anita Fleur Women’s Contour Nursing Bra


Seamless, contouring cups with light underwire support, side-smoothing panels and lace detailing offer a shapely silhouette (no uni-boob) that is flattering under any top. Or no top.

6 of 11 Image Credits: Motherhood Maternity

Best Plus-Size Nursing Bra

Motherhood Maternity Plus Size Seamless Clip Down Nursing Bra


This plus-size nursing bra offers full coverage (no spillage) that’s super comfortable. It features removable pads and a seamless design of nylon/spandex stretch that works with your shape.

Best Nursing Bra for Large Breasts

7 of 11 Image Credits: Spanx

Spanx Bra-llelujah! Mama Nursing Bra


Based on the uber-popular Bra-llelujah! Bra, this nursing bra has a stretchy soft fabric, a cross over design, and easy flip-down cups. It comes in sizes XS-XL.

Best for Petites

8 of 11 Image Credits: H&M

H&M MAMA 2-Pack Nursing Bras


Cute bras perfect for smaller breasts, these soft-cup nursing bras made with organic cotton jersey, feature sewn-in light padding for smooth coverage that doesn’t shift or bunch.

Best Low-Neck Nursing Bra

9 of 11 Image Credits: Amazon

Kindred Bravely Marvella Classic Nursing Bra


Featuring a deep V-cut front and seamless, molded cups and a racerback panel, this pullover nursing bra by Kindred Bravely works well with all shirt styles.

Best Strapless Nursing Bra

10 of 11 Image Credits: Amazon

La Leche League Convertible Strapless Nursing Bra

Price:$12.00 - $23.00

For all shoulder-baring styles, this bandeau nursing bra from La Leche League keeps you looking carefree yet covered, with removable contour pads and gentle, no-roll elastic band on top, and a nursing pane that lifts up from the bottom. This bra also comes with optional clear shoulder straps that crisscross in the back.

11 of 11 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Sports Nursing Bra

Glamorise Women’s Full Figure Elite Performance Adjustable Wonderwire Sports Bra


While many sport bras are good at smushing breasts, the Glamorise relies less on the stretch and more on construction — namely, separated, underwire support and adjustable straps. High top and side coverage are also a plus, especially for larger busts.