We interviewed our maternity and nursing bra sizing expert and a recent mother herself, Arielle, to give you the scoop on "What to Expect When Maternity Bra Fitting".
Arielle has been with Breakout Bras since 2005! So, she definitely knows her stuff when it comes to bra sizing. She's received extensive and thorough bra-fitting training from Breakout Bras’ owner, Melissa Thomason. In addition to her training and years before becoming a mom herself, she even read "What to Expect When Expecting", to give her a better understanding of how to explain the changes that happen during pregnancy to her customers. Talk about dedication! Even with all that knowledge, Arielle’s own pregnancy and motherhood journey has surprised her with new information and provided her with even more insight to help out our customers.
So, Arielle, when would you recommend getting fitted for a maternity bra?
"I recommend coming in to get sized for a maternity bra whenever you start to feel uncomfortable in your current bra. I see a lot of women trying to make their old bras work for as long as possible, but why would you want to be uncomfortable? Get one that feels good throughout your pregnancy. You'll be glad you did.
Maternity bras are non-nursing, stretchy bras with light to moderate support. However, most of those styles aren’t going to give you the same level of support you're used to. So, keep an open mind for trying different, non-maternity options. In fact, we fit the majority of our customers in regular bras for their pregnancy. They provide better support, containment, and shaping." Not all regular bras will work, though. We choose styles that are flexible, and almost all of them will have stretch lace to accommodate your changing body.
So how would you size a customer for a maternity bra?
"Well, I would have the bra band on a tighter setting, so they can make it looser as their ribcage expands throughout the pregnancy. If their ribcage expands more than expected, we also offer extenders. I find that most women end up not needing them, though. I would also fit the bra to be bigger in the cup size. Generally, one to two cup sizes up, depending on their current size and if this is their first kid. For most women we've helped over the years, we've found that during their first pregnancies, their breasts tend to get much bigger and much earlier compared to subsequent pregnancies. Women who have multiple pregnancies close together tend not to change much after the first one."
That’s some pretty interesting information! What about getting a nursing bra while you’re pregnant?
"I don’t usually suggest getting nursing bras until later in pregnancy. Their bodies are going to change so much, and the bra will stretch with them too. So, when it’s time to deliver, they likely won’t be able to use that nursing bra because it’s too stretched out. They're going to get a much better fit if they get a regular bra sized for maternity use. They can get the nursing bra when it's actually time to start breastfeeding.
However, if they really want a nursing option during pregnancy, they can choose to wear a soft-cup nursing bra that's stretchy and has light support. Then, after delivery, they can use that bra as a sleep bra. I would recommend the ‘Blossom’ by Royce and the ‘Body Silk’ by Bravado. Being fitted for a soft-cup nursing bra during pregnancy usually works better for customers who have a petite frame and are smaller in the bust. A regular bra will generally serve most women best, but especially if the customer is larger in the bust and has a smaller band size."
You mentioned getting a nursing bra later in pregnancy. How late should they get one?
"A month or so before their due date is when I would recommend a transitional nursing bra. A transitional nursing bra is one that comes in a size range and isn’t cup size specific. They’ll need this style because there isn’t a way to anticipate how much milk they're going to make or how much their breast or band size is going to fluctuate. On average, four to six weeks after delivery is when things have settled down enough to get a size-specific style, but you'll need a good transitional bra in the meantime. These styles work great for the last month of pregnancy when things are getting pretty uncomfortable, at the hospital when you need something to nurse your newborn in, and then afterwards as a sleep bra at night or when hanging around the house. Transitional bras are an investment well worth making.
Bravado Body Silk and Bravado Body Silk Full Cup are great bras that come in different size ranges. ‘Kiera ’by Goddess works really well for women with large breasts and a larger band size. The ‘Blossom’ by Royce is ideal for women with large breasts who have a smaller band size. If you’re opting for an underwired nursing bra, make sure the wire goes far back enough, past your underarm, so there's no wire pressure on their breast tissue. It's also best to choose styles made with stretch lace, so there will be room for growth and fluctuation."
That’s some very helpful information, Arielle! One last question: what if the customer can’t come into the retail store to get fitted?
Not a problem at all. Breakout Bras has helped women all over the country for over 20 years get fitted for their nursing bras via phone and email. I would recommend starting on the website with Breakout Bras’ Comprehensive Sizing Guide at www.breakoutbras.com/pages/fitting-guide. Then call or email Customer Service at 866-870-8911 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to give style recommendations and sizing advice."
Great! Thanks again, Arielle, for passing along your knowledge on maternity bras! I look forward to hearing from you in Part II, "What to Expect When Nursing Bra Fitting"!