ready to bust out of your bra? Ellie Gwilliam has personally
trialed six of the best for style and functionality and here are
Three months into your pregnancy you may find you're outgrowing
your bra as well as your jeans and party frocks. Frances McInnes,
from online retailer Breastmates, says your breasts can expand two
to four bra sizes by the time baby arrives. You may need to buy a
new bra three months into your pregnancy and then go one size up
again when you're around seven or eight months pregnant. The
important thing is to put comfort first as your bra digging into
your skin may put pressure on breast tissue which can lead to
breastfeeding problems later. Pregnant women are advised to buy
underwire-free bras to avoid putting pressure on milk ducts which
can lead to mastitis during pregnancy or when you're
Frances recommends bras with six rows of
hooks and eyes at the back to accommodate the changing band size
(the circumference of your chest area just under the breasts). As
the top of your tummy expands with the growth of your baby, you'll
find your bra getting tighter. After birth the breasts themselves
grow bigger, putting strain on the cup size, But a good maternity
bra should be able to accommodate these fluctuations.
"If you can't slip your fingers into the
edge of the bra you need to increase the cup size," says
For women whose breasts get really huge,
it's comforting to note that many manufacturers are now catering
for you, for instance HOTmilk has styles that go up to size
Maternity bras have come up in the world
in terms of style and variety. A few years ago maternity bras were
purely function over style, but nursing mums no longer need to
exist in the lingerie doldrums with maternity bras now available in
a range of racy colours and sexy styles.
When you're out shopping, consider the two
maternity shapes - the A-frame and the side sling. While the
A-frame offers more support and coverage during breastfeeding, the
side sling cradles the breast from the side of the cup while
feeding and is suitable for smaller-breasted
Shapely moulded contour bra by Lovable
A t-shirt bra (pictured bottom right) with microfibre shell and
cotton lining. Standard plastic cup clip, side sling cup. Available
in nude and black, in sizes up to 20F. RRP$44.95, phone 09
272 5851 for stockists.
Good bits: Lives up to its name and gives great
shape. My husband even did a double take, and may have said
something inappropriate in front of the children. Its feeding clips
are larger and less fiddly than other bras, and get the tick for
one-handed release. The moulded cups are slightly padded for shape
and discretion (no "fripples" - frozen nipples), and look
smooth under your clothing. The convertible straps can be worn
straight or crossed at the back.
Tricky bits: The straps had to be re-adjusted
after washing, as they expanded in the wash, reducing the
"suddenly shapely" wow factor.
Bottom Line: This bra was actually my favourite
as it's really comfortable. The slightly wider than normal straps
provide a firm but smooth fit, and the microfibre and cotton combo
is a good one.
Blaze by HOTmilk
A basic nursing bra (bottom left) in black for practicality with
diamantes for bling. Microfibre and satin shell with 100% cotton
lining. Standard plastic cup clip, three-quarter soft side-sling
cup. Sizes 8B-16G. RRP$54.90 from www.bellybeyond.co.nz.
Good bits: Not quite the plain Jane it may first
appear, Blaze maintains HOTmilk's trademark sexiness with satin
detailing and a twinkling centre piece that made me chuckle each
time I put it on. Its cup shape gives great support and my breasts
Tricky bits: One-handed cup release confirmed,
but a bit tricky to do back up. The straps are on the thin side and
the elastic felt a bit rough, but I'm sure it would soften with
wash and wear.
Bottom Line: Plain enough to be practical, yet
still felt pretty thanks to the satin-trimmed sweetheart neckline
and those sparkly diamantes.
Vanilla Kisses by Womama
Fresh and feminine with stripes, vintage lace and a
cute-as-a-button centrepiece (pictured middle right). Standard
plastic cup clips, three-quarter soft side-sling cup. Available in
vanilla stripe, in sizes 10C-18F. RRP$64.95 www.womama.com
Good bits: Provides great
shape, and feels lovely and soft to wear. It's nice to know the
cotton lining is certified organic too, as featured in all Womama
bras. The cup clips are slightly bigger than on other bras,
enhancing release and do-up-ability. Comfortable wide straps and a
mesh fabric at the back for breathability.
Tricky bits: Only one slight quibble - the triple
hooks and eyes took up a bit much of my precious-little getting
dressed time. But maybe I'm just unco-ordinated.
Bottom Line: This is a very pretty bra yet
practical with minimal frou frou.
Velvet Delight Plunge bra by Cake
From Cake Lingerie's Fashion collection, Velvet Delight (middle
left) is as fancy as it is functional, featuring lace, rosettes,
ribbons and bows. Available in violet, sizes 10-16, cup sizes B-D
in the plunge style and DD-G cup in the balconette style. Standard
plastic cup clips. RRP$68.90 from www.cakelingerie.com.
Good bits: This bra incorporates Cake Lingerie's
"MyBust" fitting system, designed to enhance the silhouette while
providing a better fit, hence the different cup construction
depending on cup size. Great for special occasions, the plunge
version I trialed features a very low neckline that would hide away
nicely under low-cut evening wear - in the unlikely event that you
find yourself in evening wear while breastfeeding! It was also the
only bra in the trial with underwire and boning. While underwire is
often considered inappropriate for nursing bras, due to the assumed
risk to milk ducts which could then lead to mastitis, Cake's
research suggests that an ill-fitting bra is a more likely risk
factor for blocked milk ducts, and flexible wire in a properly
fitted bra can be healthier as it helps maintain the natural shape
and curve of the breasts. Regardless, it felt good to wear
underwire again, and shape and support earned a big tick.
Tricky bits: The low neckline looks good, but, and
there's no discreet way of saying this, the breasts did
consequently escape their proper place from time to time. My other
concern is that all the frills could be damaged in the washing
machine. Handwashing in cold water is recommended.
Bottom Line: It's comfortable to wear providing
good profile and lots of prettiness, Cake's Velvet Delight is quite
the special treat.
Momamia Maternity bra by Elle Macpherson
Forget beige and understated, this bra (top right) is unashamedly
bold. Cotton-lined slinky knit with soft A-frame cup and standard
plastic cup clips. Available in Orient Blue Floral, in 10C to 16G
with DD and FF cups, RRP$59.95.
Good bits: While it gives the impression that it's
only here to party, this is actually a very clever bra. It's
well-designed and provides comfort and firm support while still
feeling sleek and lightweight. The full cups keep everything in
place, the slinky knit feels delicate to wear, and the cotton
lining is cosy and soft against the skin. I liked the A-frame style
as it offers slightly more modesty than a side-sling style, and
also provided something for my newborn to wrap her tiny fingers
around as she practised her grip while feeding.
Tricky bits: The pattern speaks for itself, quite
loudly some would say, and can be seen through lighter coloured
clothing. The smooth lines are lovely, but the fabric is thin, so
be wary of "fripples".
Bottom Line: A good combination of comfort and
La Leche League nursing sports bra
Yes, that's correct, a nursing sports bra (top left), from the
passionate people at La Leche League International. Crop-top
racerback design in cotton, with polyester, spandex and waffe mesh.
Standard plastic cup clip, A-frame cup. Available in size small to
XXXL. RRP$39.95 from www.bellybeyond.co.nz.
Good bits: It's snug and comfortable, and I liked
the cup clips positioned high, just below the shoulder, which made
them easier to reach. The most inspirational of all the bras, this
one had me donning my running shoes for the first time since the
birth. For a walk, mind you, not a run. So to be fair, I didn't
fully put this sports bra through its paces, but can confidently
say it offers support and convenience - if bouncing around a
netball court in between feeds is your idea of a good time.
Tricky bits: It has to go on over your head and is
tight, so a bit difficult to put on.
Bottom Line: Cynicism aside, exercise after baby
is undoubtedly good for us, and this bra serves a very noble
Ellie Gwilliam is currently on maternity leave from OHbaby!
Magazine after the birth of her third daughter, but managed to
multi-task long enough to give the maternity bras featured here a
thorough assessment. Special thanks to baby Abigail, for her
co-operation and assistance with this project.
As seen in OHbaby!
magazine Issue 14: 2011
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