What is a Nursing Bra? Your Guide to Nursing and Maternity Bras

Pregnancy is a time of change. Your bump is growing, but your breasts are often changing too as your hormones increase. While every woman is different, it’s not uncommon to increase a cup size or two throughout pregnancy.

This means, on top of everything else going on right now, it’s perhaps time to start thinking about maternity bras. Your old underwear might not fit, may not be comfortable, and may not be providing the support you need during your pregnancy. But don’t worry – buying maternity or nursing bras definitely shouldn’t mean giving up your personal style or what makes you feel sexy. Not if we’ve got anything to do with it!

From explaining what maternity and nursing bras are and what they do, to whether it’s safe to wear an underwire bra when pregnant and the options available right here at Ann Summers, here’s everything you need to know.

What is a Maternity Bra?

A maternity bra is a bra designed to work for your changing body during pregnancy. As your breasts can grow and become much more sensitive throughout your pregnancy, a maternity bra can help give you the support you need. They’re also often manufactured using softer materials and with additional stretch for total comfort as you and your bump grow.

What are Nursing Bras?

The main goal of a nursing bra is still comfort and support, as your breasts can be larger and more sensitive than usual, however, they also come with breastfeeding-specific features such as accessible clips, meaning you can easily pull them down for feeding.

Are Maternity and Nursing Bras the Same?

Not always. Traditionally speaking, maternity bras are great for use throughout your pregnancy, while nursing bras are perfect for use after you’ve given birth if you’re planning on breastfeeding.

While maternity and nursing bras are available as separate styles, you can also opt for combined bras that come with all the great features of maternity bras, but with accessible clips for nursing, too.

We know the huge list of things you need to buy throughout pregnancy can be stressful, so at Ann Summers we offer combined, multi-use maternity bras that can be used throughout your journey, both before and after giving birth. So, you can tick both maternity and nursing bras off your list in one go – that’s one less thing to worry about!

When to Start Wearing Maternity Bras

There’s no specific time as to when to buy a maternity bra as everyone’s body changes at different times and rates during pregnancy. However we’d recommend switching to a specific maternity bra when your usual bras start to feel uncomfortable as your bump grows.

How to Measure for a Maternity Bra?

Naturally, you’re probably wondering to yourself “what size maternity bra should I buy?” as your body changes. Follow the steps in our bra measuring guide but you will also need to remember that your cup size will increase by at least a size as your milk comes in. After post-pregnancy, your ribcage will reduce back down to its pre-pregnancy size several weeks after the birth of your child. In the later stages of your pregnancy, be sure that the band of your bra fits on the loosest setting so that you can make it tighter as your ribcage re-adjusts.

Underwire Bras in Pregnancy

Can you wear an underwire bra in pregnancy? So long as your underwire bras fit comfortably, the answer is yes, you can absolutely wear an underwire bra in pregnancy! When fitted correctly, your underwire bra shouldn’t restrict your movement or cut into your breasts. You can find underwire maternity bras and underwire nursing bras in the Ann Summers range. An underwire maternity bra or an underwire nursing bra from our collection will offer you light support, keep you comfy, and have you looking and feeling sexy.

Do You Need a Maternity Bra?

We’ve talked about what maternity bras are, but do you really need them? Again, it’s a totally personal choice. Similar to maternity clothing, pregnancy bra is are designed to suit your adapting body at this time. Your body's needs are different than usual. You’ll be dealing with new things, including growing breasts, sensitivity and sore nipples, so a maternity bra may be the most convenient, comfortable and supportive option.

It’s the same with nursing bras – they’re not an absolute must for breastfeeding, but most women find they help.

Can You Wear an Underwire Bra While Nursing?

The answer is yes, absolutely – it’s totally up to you and whatever you find the most comfortable. Whether you wear an underwired bra or a nursing bra – it’s your choice!

However, nursing bras are designed specifically for this time, so do offer several great benefits. A regular bra does not allow the same quick and easy access for breastfeeding and some women find their usual underwire bras can dig in or feel uncomfortable after pregnancy, so they prefer a non-wired or nursing specific option. But, as we said, there are definitely no hard and fast rules when it comes to what bra to wear when nursing. If your usual underwire bra is uncomfortable or digging in, don’t wear it, but otherwise it's totally up to you.

If you want the best of both worlds, with the support of underwire but the comfort and access of a nursing bra, flexi-wire nursing bras are the perfect option (more on those below!).

Types of Maternity & Nursing Bras

We get it. Buying new underwear might not feel like a top priority right now. Everything can feel a little strange and out of place when you’re pregnant, and there’s a lot of confusing information to take in. However, buying maternity underwear not only provides physical comfort to your changing body but can be a nice treat for you in what might otherwise be a hectic time! The right maternity underwear can also help restore your confidence and allow you to feel your usual, sexy self. We know what you’re thinking – “but isn’t maternity underwear usually ugly?”. Not with Ann Summers! We’ve created an entirely new maternity and nursing bra and underwear range with not a granny pant in sight. Just beautifully designed, supportive maternity bras to help you feel extra special during a time when you most definitely deserve it!

Our maternity and nursing underwear range offers a variety of options to suit you throughout your pregnancy and post-natal journey – all with our usual stylish Ann Summers touch! From everyday favourites to sexy maternity options, we just want to make sure you carry on feeling like you. In our collection, you can find…

Wire-free maternity bras

These wire-free maternity bras come with no wire meaning they’re flexible and comfortable – all the practical things, but stylish too! You can choose padded cups for extra boost and support, or if you prefer a non-padded option, our non-padded maternity bras come with a light foam sling for additional support but the ultimate comfort.

Flexi-wire maternity/nursing bras

We know that sometimes you might want a little more support and lift from your bra, especially if your breasts are growing through pregnancy. Our flexi-wire bras are the perfect solution. They come with super soft, flexible wires to help contour your body and give a lovely shape. Better yet, you don’t have to lose the delicate nature of our lovely lace materials and styling details just because you’re buying a maternity bra – our collection means you can always feel like yourself with beautiful underwear.

Pregnancy can be an exciting yet strange time when everything feels like it’s changing. With the right maternity underwear, you can ensure you feel comfortable and supported throughout your journey – while looking and feeling fantastic from bump to baby!