Measuring Guide

A Guide to Fitting your Maternity/Nursing Underwear

Your nursing bra is probably the most important piece of underwear you will buy. Your greatest need when nursing is comfort but you also want to try and protect your breasts from stretching and the added weight that your body is not accustomed to, at the top of the breast ,can put pressure on the delicate ligaments in that area causing them to stretch. When a ligament is stretched it cannot be toned up in the way muscle can, so must be protected by well fitting underwear, which will help to keep the breast still and secure, which in turn minimises any damage to the ligaments.

This can also occur before the nursing stage , so a good fitting maternity bra is a must.

Maternity and nursing underwear differs from fashion underwear in that it is usually non wired in order to protect the delicate tissues of the breast from undue pressure.

We would suggest that If you possibly can, avoid underwired lingerie after 32 weeks, as from this time many mums experience slight leakage from the breast . This is an indication that the milk glands are beginning to open in readiness for the birth of your baby. If your underwired bra leaves deep red marks under your breast or digs in under the arm it is time to change to a softer bra.

Here are some tips to help you achieve the correct fit.

Maternity Bras

Wait until around your 16th week of pregnancy before having your maternity bras fitted or buying your bras online.( Using the measuring chart below). At this stage the initial increase in your cup size will slow down or stop.

Choose good breathable fabric and reasonable depth in the underband.

Your ribcage size at this stage has usually started to increase, so therefore your cup size will also change. E.g. 36c before pregnancy will usually require 38D/DD, however this is only an indication of size, best to be accurately measured.

There should be no overflow at the top of the cup and the underband should fasten on the tightest hook initially.

If your ribcage expands beyond the last hook in pregnancy ,try using bra extenders on the back of your bra to increase the underband size gradually. This won't affect your cup size and most mums will then get through to the end of their pregnancy without having to buy more underwear.

Nursing Bras

Have your nursing bras fitted or buy them online around the 36th week of your pregnancy , (using the measuring chart below), to ensure you have everything you need in preparation for birth. Many babies arrive before their due date and it is better to be prepared than give your partner the task of shopping for nursing underwear !

Your shape will change after birth , in that the ribcage will shrink and the cup size will increase.

Your nursing bra should feel tight if fitted at 36 weeks and the cup should have enough room to allow for milk expansion and breast pads. If you make the mistake of buying the underband in a larger size, your bra will ride up at the back, push down at the front and will not support your breast in the correct way for nursing. As a rough guide the average mum wearing 34B pre-pregnancy will be wearing 34DD/E when nursing. Mums who have a fuller bust often have less of an increase in their cup size. E.G. 34F Pre-pregnancy around 34H when nursing.

Fabric content is all-important. Cotton or breathable microfibre is best. Avoid bras with a high nylon content as your skin needs to breath. Nylon/ viscose or similar fabrics tend to trap heat and moisture in your bra which may lead to thrush.

Make sure that any trims on your bras, often put there to make the bra prettier are the same fabric as the rest of the bra. Most mums are more comfortable when they do not have any nylon directly against the breast.

Bra straps should be broader than the average fashion bra to help support the added weight in your breast. They also need to be fully adjustable to allow for mums with a smaller torso or who are shorter/longer from shoulder to ribcage.

Your nursing bra should have give at the top of the cup as your breasts may engorged with milk around day 3/4 when your hindmilk comes in. Many mums also experience engorgement during the night or when they are away from baby for any length of time.

Most nursing bras are now designed with the 'KWIK KLIP' drop cup system which, with a little practice you should be able to manage with one finger.

Feeding access needs to be wide enough to allow you to expose your breast properly ,and your bra should be folded under the breast staying well away from the baby's mouth. Some padded bras are particularly bad for refusing to stay down, just as you have got baby attached. If you are feeding in public ,try using a nursing vest or cover yourself with a shawl, stretchy cardigan or feeding apron .

The interior part of your bra should have a sling, which helps to protect the side of the breast for added support.

Avoid using a lot of fabric conditioner on your bras as this can soften the bands too much causing lack of support, but machine washing is fine.

Sleep Bras
Make sure that you have something comfortable to sleep in when feeding. A lightweight bra in absorbent cotton or a nursing vest are usually best but if your cup size is very full you may need to sleep in your daytime bra. Leaking is the biggest issue at bed-time rather than support and as baby sleeps a little longer your breasts often leak more.

Sleep bras are not always necessary during pregnancy, but you may sleep more comfortably in one if your breasts are very tender.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I expect to deliver early?
Don't worry. Bosom Buddies have a wealth of experience in fitting mums who may deliver earlier due to twins, gestational diabetes or breech babies. Simply contact us and your fitting will be arranged just before your hospital date. Online mums – follow the usual guidelines and phone for help, if you need it

How many bras do I need ?
From a hygiene point of view it is seldom possible to manage without two or three bras, but these can be alternated with nursing vests for day or nightwear.

When will my size change?
In our experience most mums can expect to change size somewhere between four and six months. When you begin the weaning process your cup size usually drops and it is time for a re-fit if you intend to carry on breast feeding.

How quickly can I expect to receive my bras?
Online purchases will be despatched as quickly as possible after payment has cleared, usually within 48 Hours. Mums who use our home or hospital fitting service will be supplied with their bras immediately.

Can I return unwanted goods ?
Yes, however we must ask that they are in original packaging ,unworn, and within eight weeks of the date of purchase.

When should I go back to underwired bras?
Your breasts will return to normal six weeks after you stop breast feeding. Wait until then before wearing wired bras to prevent mastitis occurring because the milk glands may not have completely closed. Make sure that you are measured properly , as lots of mums experience weight loss which may mean your size will change when you stop.

Measuring Guide
Always wear a bra while being measured.

To ensure the correct fit ask your partner or a friend to measure you. Make sure the tape measure is well under the ribcage to avoid including baby in the measurement. Hold up your bra straps slightly to keep your breast away from your ribcage and try to breath normally.

Measure the ribcage and take a note of the measurement.

Now measure across the fullest part of the bust and take a note of the measurement.

Follow the fitting chart below to work out your size; e.g. Underband 29" Over Bust 38", you are measuring 34DD. Your best choice for nursing would be 34E.

Bra fitting is not an exact science and has to take into account body and breast shape as well as size., We fully understand from experience that when measuring yourself, you may feel unsure of the result, if so , please don't be afraid to lift the phone to double check your size, because comfortable breast feeding is our business .


Under Bust 

Across Bust 

Bra Size 

Inches 

CM 

Inches 

CM 

UK 

EUR 

FR 

CUP 

27-28 

70 

33-34 

85 

32 

70 

85 

B 

34-35 

88 

C 

35-36 

90 

D 

36-37 

93 

DD 

37-38 

95 

E 

38-39 

98 

F 

39-40 

100 

G 

40-41 

103 

H 

41-42 

105 

J 

  
42-43 
108 
   
K

29-30 

75 

35-36 

90 

34 

75 

90 

B 

36-37 

93 

C 

37-38 

95 

D 

38-39 

98 

DD 

39-40 

100 

E 

40-41 

103 

F 

41-42 

105 

G 

42-43 

108 

H 

43-44 

110 

J 

  
44-45 
113
   
K

31-32 

80 

37-38 

95 

36 

80 

95 

B 

38-39 

98 

C 

39-40 

100 

D 

40-41 

103 

DD 

41-42 

105 

E 

42-43 

108 

F 

53-44 

110 

G 

44-45 

113 

H 

45-46 

115 

J 

  
46-47 
118
   
K

33-34 

85 

39-40 

100 

38 

85 

100 

B 

40-41 

103 

C 

41-42 

105 

D 

42-43 

108 

DD 

43-44 

110 

E 

44-45 

113 

F 

45-46 

115 

G 

46-47 

118 

H 

47-48 

120 

J 

  
48-49
123
   
K

35-36 

90 

41-42 

105 

40 

90 

105 

B 

42-43 

108 

C 

43-44 

110 

D 

44-45 

113 

DD 

45-46 

115 

E 

46-47 


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