I would like to start by saying proper fit is vital when purchasing either a maternity or nursing bra. Breast changes are happening before most women even know they are pregnant! Once your pre-pregnancy bra starts to feel uncomfortable or tight, do not delay finding yourself a maternity bra that fits you well. This may happen early in the pregnancy or more toward the end of pregnancy. Either way, you need to find a comfortable maternity bra that offers support and room for growth.
There are a few differences between a maternity and nursing bra. A maternity bra is designed to be worn during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy the breasts will grow. For some moms-to-be the growth may be a cup size and for others up to 2 to 3 cup sizes. Every pregnancy is different so it is hard to gauge just how large your breasts will get. A maternity bra is very supportive and is usually designed with stretchy fabric, adjustable straps and additional hook-n-eyes in the back closure to accommodate your changing size. (If you can’t find a bra labeled for “maternity” just find a good fitting bra that has these features.)
A nursing bra is designed for breastfeeding. Although many women purchase and wear a nursing bra in the last trimester, the design is a little different than that of a maternity bra. The cups of the bra drop down from either a clasp or hook to expose each breast for easier nursing.
It is very important to have a good fit in a nursing bra. Your breasts may get a little fuller in the early weeks of breastfeeding. Sometimes a sports type nursing bra offers more flexibility for the breast to grow in the early weeks. After the first month of breastfeeding your breast sizes won’t change as much and you can switch to a more structured bra that may give you more of an exact fit.
We are all different and have our own preferences as to what is comfortable. My advice is to try several different styles of maternity or nursing bras on. Comfort and support are key to finding a good bra, especially during pregnancy and the upcoming months of breastfeeding.