When To Start Wearing Maternity Bra – Do You Really Need It?

When To Start Wearing Maternity Bra When To Buy Maternity Bra

Medically reviewed by Raye Mariano – RN, BSN, BA

If you just found out that you’re expecting a new baby then you’ve surely got a lot on your mind, especially if this is your first pregnancy. Maybe you have browsed by the maternity section wondering when is the right time to graduate out of your regular clothes and into the maternity clothes?

You’re also probably contemplating when you’re supposed to be buying or wearing a maternity bra, or maybe you’re wondering if you really need to get one at all. Maybe you can just get away with wearing your same old regular ones and avoid a potentially unnecessary expense?

To be honest, there are many benefits to purchasing and wearing a maternity bra since they’re specifically designed for a growing and changing pregnant (and postpartum!) body.

Having been through three pregnancies myself, I can help you better understand how to navigate buying maternity bras and when to start wearing maternity bras, and also some reasons why its likely a necessary maternity essential.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation.

How Do Your Breasts Change During Pregnancy

Being pregnant, you know you are in for a whole bunch of changes in the upcoming months and some of those changes will affect your breasts.

While some women don’t notice any changes in their breasts until later (third trimester, even), others start observing breast changes as early as 6 weeks1!

What types of changes are we talking about? Well one of the first changes is that your breast tissue can become tender or sore. Then of course the size of your breasts increase.

It varies woman to woman but you could experience a drastic change in size-even a few whole cup sizes.

You might also notice your breasts become firmer or more swollen as early as 6 to 8 weeks2. Many pregnant women also experience nipple sensitivity at some point.

These changes are all due to the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin that flood the body during pregnancy. They happen ultimately for the purpose of milk production so you’ll eventually be ready for breastfeeding when your baby arrives.

In addition to your breasts, you will also become broader across your back due to your expanding rib cage that’s making room for the growing baby3. This may also affect your bra size and when you should ditch your old bras and start wearing maternity bras.

Do I Need To Wear A Bra To Bed When Pregnant

How Many Bra Sizes Do You Go Up When Pregnant?

Obviously this is different for everyone but most women go up at least one cup size or even two during pregnancy. Many women find they have gone up 3 or even 4 whole cup sizes by the end of the pregnancy4!

What Is A Maternity Bra & How Does It Differ From Your Regular Bras

Maternity bras are designed specifically for pregnant and nursing women as they are meant to compliment a pregnant woman’s growing and changing body. In general, a good maternity bra should feel right, support your breasts and your back, and be stretchy enough to make some more room as your body grows.

When To Buy Maternity Bras?

It’s technically never too early to purchase your first maternity bra but you should probably at least wait until you feel some changes so you know what size will be the right fit for you.

Most women will notice that their breast size will settle around the 4th of 5th month of pregnancy so the 2nd trimester would be the ideal time to do your initial maternity bra shopping5.

However, it makes sense to get some maternity bras as soon as your regular bras feel tight or uncomfortable and the timing can be different for everyone. You might even have to go bra shopping more than once during your pregnancy.

When To Buy Maternity Bras

When Should I Switch To Maternity Bra?

Here’s some clear signs that it’s time to size up in the bust area…

  • Your breasts hurt or feel very tender
  • Bra feels snug or too tight
  • You notice indentations in your skin where your band or straps are
  • Breasts are spilling out of the bra cups

There’s really no way to predict when any of this will happen. Some women need to get them earlier and others later. You might also find that if its your second or subsequent pregnancy you might need a maternity bra earlier. So just pay attention to your body, and do what feels right for you.

Do I Need To Wear A Bra To Bed When Pregnant?

Many women have a difficult time getting comfortable enough to fall asleep without a supportive bra on due to the tenderness, so don’t be surprised if this is the case. I personally had to wear one every night to feel comfortable while laying on my side.

As you know, everyone is different so play it by ear and do what feels right. Here are some maternity and nursing sleep bras to check out.

When Should I Switch To Maternity Bra

Why You Need A Maternity Bra?

Here’s some of the reasons why you’re better off with a maternity bra over your existing bras and it all comes down to comfort and how it fits your new pregnant body.

  • Bigger breasts – maternity bras offer full coverage to fit your extra weight so you don’t feel constricted by your breasts growing
  • Wider rib cage and back – more comfortable bands and sometimes more hooks so you can go up as you need as you grow
  • Sturdier or wider straps – good support so you don’t feel like your breasts are falling out of your bra
  • Breasts may feel tender, sore, or painful – less rigid structures and less padding to take pressure off but more overall support
  • More sensitive nipples – softer fabrics create less friction on your tender nipples
  • Your body is growing and changing – stretchy fabric and flexibility of these bras help them mold to your body and still have room as you grow
  • No more underwires – it’s important to get a wire-free bra so you don’t have anything pinching or digging into your skin anywhere or leaving indentations and causing discomfort

How Many Maternity Bras Should I Get?

It makes sense to get around three maternity bras. You don’t need to go crazy and get one for every day of the week since you can wash them but it won’t ever hurt to have a spare or two on hand too. If you get three then you have one to wear, while one is potentially in the wash, and a spare.

By the way, in this article you can find tips for washing Kindred Bravely bras – but all these rules apply to washing all maternity and nursing bras, so feel free to try them with your bras!

How Many Maternity Bras Do I Need

Features To Look For In The Best Maternity Bra

When you’re shopping for the most comfy maternity bra, pay attention to these features:

  • Soft material
  • Lightweight
  • Stretchy fabrics
  • Light removable padding
  • Wire-free
  • Molded cups
  • Sturdy shoulder straps
  • Full coverage
  • Easy breast-feeding access is an extra bonus

It’s also convenient and budget-friendly to get one or more of them in the form of a 2in1 maternity and nursing bra. Nursing bras have the same idea comfort-wise as maternity bras and then you can continue to use the same ones postpartum when you’re breast-feeding. Check out some of the best maternity and nursing bras for large breasts here.

Is A Maternity Bra Must-Have?

For me I considered a maternity bra an absolute must-have for pregnant moms. It’s definitely worth it to “splurge” on the appropriate nursing or maternity bra because ultimately you will feel more comfortable. Especially with everything you are going through mentally and physically you absolutely deserve to feel your best.

Don’t worry about potentially not looking cute because there are tons of colors and styles on the market that you’ll be sure to find one that suits you and your individual needs perfectly.

Can You Wear Your Regular Bras During Pregnancy?

Can I just get away with wearing my regular bras? Maybe you don’t have the budget for new maternity bras or maybe you just don’t feel like going out of your way or going shopping.

If either of these are the case then there are also some alternatives to try. You can stick to your comfy sports bra as long as you can get away with that. I also found sleeping in sports bras at night was helpful.

You can get away with wearing your regular bras with a “bra-extender”, which you can get from various stores. It lengthens the back part to add extra hooks so you can keep wearing your bras as long as the cups still fit.

If you’re pregnant and your regular bras are still working for you then there’s no reason you can’t wear those for now. All that matters is that you’re most comfortable!

Article By Raye Mariano, RN, BSN, BA

Raye Mariano is a Registered Nurse who worked for years as a labor and delivery nurse and mother/baby nurse. Now, as a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids, ages 4 and under, she remains passionate about all things pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.





Top picture of bras belong to Kindred Bravely Brand. Source: kindredbravely.com/

About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *