Nursing Bra Size: Get the Right Fit At A Glance

Nursing your child is a beautiful thing but it can’t be denied that there are a few inconveniences in breastfeeding that mothers can do without. To somehow reduce these little annoyances, moms wear nursing bras for support, comfort, and convenience. However, just like in the case of maternity jeans or pants, a nursing bra is no better than a regular bra if it doesn’t come in the right size. And so, you may refer to this page if you need help getting the perfect-fitting nursing bra size for you.

At a Glance

  • Support and comfort are the main considerations when buying nursing bras. A good-quality nursing bra is adjustable, and its band and strap should be made from non-stretchy fabric for optimal support. The cups should be flexible – able to adjust to your changing breast size while nursing.
  • Should you decide to take your own measurements, you need to make a record of your (1) bust, (2) rib band, and (3) cup size measurements.
  • Band sizes are typically classified into even numbers (e.g., 30, 32, 34, etc.). For women whose measurements are an odd number, they would either have to size up or down depending on how well it fits their bodies.
  • Calculate your cup size by subtracting your band measurement from your bust measurement. The difference has an equivalent cup size labeled by letter (e.g. A, B, C, D, DD, etc.).

How are nursing bras different from regular bras?

Just like maternity clothes, nursing bras are meant for mothers, expecting or lactating. They look very similar to regular bras with the exception of a few key elements. They mainly provide a quicker and easier access to the mother’s breast for breastfeeding her baby without having to remove the undergarment itself. Instead, they usually come with flaps or panels which you can pull down, unclip, or unzip with just one hand. Although they are not exactly necessary, nursing bras are very popular among breastfeeding mothers since they add some level of comfort and convenience to nursing.

Mother feeding breast with nursing bra

How to choose the right nursing bra size

Women’s breasts get larger during pregnancy, and you don’t want to wear a bra that puts too much pressure on your milk ducts. A regular bra with the wrong fit may cause breast inflammation and block milk flow. That’s why if you’re considering buying nursing bras, there are two things you must consider above all else – support and comfort. A good-quality nursing bra is adjustable, and its band and strap should be made from non-stretchy fabric for optimal support. The cups, however, should be more flexible. It should be able to adjust to your breast size as it changes throughout several stages of nursing. The ideal nursing bra is 100% cotton. But, at the very least, buy one that’s a mix of cotton and stretchy synthetic fabric like Lycra.

Below is a table of a few important features you need to consider in buying a nursing bra.

Features of Nursing Bras

SupportThe ideal nursing bra must have:
• An extra-wide back
• A “no-roll” band
• Adjustable but non-stretch straps
• Adequate side and under-cup support

For extra support, a nursing bra should have:
• Wider and padded shoulder straps
• Fuller cups
ClosuresThe right nursing bra should provide quick access to the breast using just one hand and while carrying a baby.
There are several types of nursing bras, including:
• Bras with front flaps that fasten at the top and near the shoulder strap
• Bras which open and close between the cups
• Flapless bras that can be squeezed or pulled down for quick access
AdjustabilityBreasts may enlarge near the end of pregnancy and in the early weeks of nursing. However, they may shrink over time once as the mom gets used to breastfeeding. As such, the ideal bra should come with adjustable band and straps. Non-stretch bras are usually equipped with hooks strategically positioned for adjustment and comfort.
Color & StyleStyle and appearances are not nearly as important as comfort and support, but mothers today do have plenty of choices to choose from should they want to spice up their undergarment collection of nursing bras.

How to measure your nursing bra size

It is best to get a professional fitting for you to get the most accurate nursing bra size for you. However, should you decide to take your own measurements, you need to make a record of the following:

What to MeasureHow to Measure
BustMeasure the fullest point of your bust. Make sure you are wearing a non-padded bra to get an accurate measurement. Round off to the next whole number.
Rib BandWrap the tape measure around your rib cage, which is directly under your bust. Round off to the next whole number and refer to the band size chart below to determine your most suitable size.
Cup SizeSubtract the rib band measurement from the bust size measurement. The difference will correspond to the appropriate cup size in letter/s. See chart below.

For example, if you're bust size is 36" and your rib band size is 34," then the difference between the two is 2". According to the chart below, your cup size is B.

How do nursing bra sizes work?

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to nursing bra sizes. First, sizing slightly varies between brands though they all tend to follow the modern measurement system for brassieres. Second, sizing is dependent on band size and cup size. And third, cup size is proportional to band size, which means that it is not absolute. Simply put, a size 34B isn’t quite the same as a size 36B.

Band sizes are typically classified into even numbers (e.g., 30, 32, 34, etc.). This means that for women whose measurements are an odd number, they would either have to size up or down depending on how well it fits their bodies. However, it might be better to refer to a sizing guide to get a more accurate fit.

Cup size, on the other hand, is determined by subtracting your band measurement from your bust measurement. The difference has an equivalent cup size labeled by letter/s. In the U.S., cup sizes usually range from A through D, then larger sizes are labeled DD, DDD, E, G, F, H, I, and J, respectively. However, the majority of leading brassiere brands abide by the UK cup sizing guide, which typically starts from size AA up to size LL [Source: WikiHow].

Nursing bra size chart

To help you find the perfect-fitting nursing bra, you may refer to the bra size charts (for band size and cup size) provided below:

Band Size Chart

Rib Band
Measurement
US/UK/CAAU/NZEU
26" - 27"30865
28" - 30"321070
31" - 33"341275
34" - 36"361480
37" - 38"381685
39" - 40"401890
41" - 42"422095
43" - 44"4422100
[Source: Cake Maternity]

Cup Size Chart

Difference Between Bust and Rib BandUS/CA/EUUK/AU/NZ  
0"-1"AA
2"BB
3"CC
4"DD
5"E (DD)DD
6"F (DDD)E
7"GF
8"HFF
9"IG
10"JGG
11"KH
12"LHH
13"MJ
[Source: Cake Maternity]

Mothercare nursing bra size chart

Mothercare Bra Band Size
inches3234363840424446
cm707580859095100105
Mothercare Bra Cup Size
sizeABCDDDEFG
inches01234567
cm10 - 1213 - 1515 - 1718 - 2020 - 2223 - 2526 - 2828 - 30

Macy’s nursing bra size chart

Difference Between
Band & Bust
Cup Size
1"A
2"B
3"C
4"D
5"DD
6"E
7"F
[Source: Macy’s]

La Leche League International nursing bra size chart

Difference Between
Band & Bust
Cup Size
0 - 1 1/2"A
1 1/2" - 2 1/2"B
2 1/2" - 3 1/2"C
3 1/2" - 4 1/2"D
5" - 6"DD/E
6" - 7"DDD/F
7" - 8"G
8" - 9"H
[Source: La Leche League International]

Most Popular Nursing Bra Brands

There are several nursing bra brands currently in the market which you may want to get to know more. In the meantime, here are some of the more well-known nursing brands from across the globe:

Medela Elomi Le Mystere Bebe Au Lait Leading Lady Decent Exposures

Five (5) most common types of nursing bras

There are various styles available for nursing bras. They generally differ on the location of the closure and the kind of latches used.

Some bras have flaps that attach close to the shoulder strap while others have flaps between both cups. Many have no flaps at all. There are bras with snaps or hooks for latches but the ones which are easy to operate have squeeze- or push-type latches.

Here are a few nursing bra styles you might consider buying:

Sleep Nursing BrasComfortable bras perfect for sleeping.
Soft-Cup Nursing BrasFlap can be easily unhooked from the closure near the shoulder strap.
Underwire Nursing BrasTypically equipped with clips that you can open with ease.
Sporting Nursing BrasUsually wireless and made from stretchy material like spandex and nylon.
Tank-Top BrasEquipped with subtle nursing clips that provide quick access to the breast when nursing.
[Source: Consumer Reports]

 

Nursing Bra Size: Get the Right Fit At A Glance
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