Expert Bra Fitting For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Judy Masucci of Levana Bratique.

This article made possible thanks to the generous support of bravado! Designs.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can bring a great number of changes to your bust which can make getting a good fit with a bra challenging. Is it possible to get a good fit with all that fluctuating and changes?

I decided to find out and invited bra fitting expert Judy Masucci of Levana Bratique to help me figure out what size and type of bra I needed to be in during pregnancy and what to look for in bras for the changes to come. Judy has fit me 3 times before and every time got me into incredibly comfortable and well fitting bras. I knew I could rely on her again. You can see our video chat here and bullet points on getting a good fit for pregnancy and breastfeeding below.

Judy is a mom who owns and operates the bra boutique Levana Bratique. As a passionate supporter and advocate of breastfeeding, Judy knows first hand the importance of breast health and support in breastfeeding.

That passion led her to start virtual bra fittings because many don’t have a place to go get fitted locally and that could make it difficult for ordering online. She says: “I started this service to help women figure out what size they are, especially when you’re breastfeeding because your bra size changes, your body changes – even if you knew your size before your got pregnant, you don’t know your size anymore. It can be hard to figure out when you’re all alone and you don’t have someplace to go to get measured in person.” If you’re interested in a virtual fitting, go here and here

Good to know

Judy explained a few points about bra sizing and fitting that are just good to know and keep in mind when bra shopping.

  • Most women are wearing the wrong size bra. Limited options may lead to women being in the wrong size. Judy explained that this happens even when you go in person and get fitted because you go to a place that doesn’t carry your size and and instead of telling “hey we don’t have the size you should be but we don’t carry that, you should go someplace else” they try to fit you in a bra that they have. They actually do you a disservice because they end up putting you in a band that’s too big and a cup that’s too small and all you are is uncomfortable and unsupported.
  • Put your bra on correctly! There’s an art to putting your bra on. Try the “Swoop and Tuck” method for a better fit (find it here). Check your band too, if it is too high in the back your bra can feel too tight while not giving the support you need. Try pulling down the back of the band and see how that adjusts your fit.
  • With breastfeeding, improper fit can be more than uncomfortable, it can lead to clogs, mastitis, and neck and back pain. You need a well-fitting bra especially during breastfeeding for your breast health and even for reaching your breastfeeding goals.

Bra Fitting

So how do you get a good fit? Judy walked me through the process of measuring myself in the steps below.

  • Wear your most comfortable bra (for me that was the Bravado! Body Silk Seamless).
  • Use a flexible measuring tape.
  • Take 3 measurements: with arms down take a snug measurement parallel to the floor, just above your breasts; with arms down take a snug measurement parallel to the floor just under your breasts; with arms down take a loose measurement at the widest part of your bust. See this guide and calculate your rough measurement by subtracting the measurement of the fullest part of your bust from the above the chest measurement. (This is just to give you a starting point, your most comfortable bra may end up being a different size!)
  • Try on different bras in different styles.
  • Underwires shouldn’t be on your breast tissue at all.

The bra fitting, as you can see, is not a science, it’s more of an art. Judy asks questions such as What’s your best fitting bra? What size is it? And how does it fit you? There’s more to a good fit than your measurements and a specific number.

Bra Selection For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Measure and get fitted in person or virtually. But understand that there can be a lot of changes in your future still.
  • Look for a flexible fitting bra. Your breasts make more glandular tissue with each pregnancy so your breasts are changing every pregnancy. Once baby is born and milk production ramps up, they’ll likely change again and may continue to do so through out your breastfeeding journey. Flexible fitting bras (like the Bravado! Body Silk Seamless) without underwire can fit more cup sizes allowing for these changes.
  • Consider extenders for better fit in pregnancy. A lot of women will find that their bras feel too tight during pregnancy, because their rib cage is expanding and their belly is pushing out on their bra band. If your cup size hasn’t changed yet, but your band size has changed, then you can just use an extender on your bra to make it more comfortable.
  • Wait to see how your breasts change. With an extender you may be able to continue using the bras you already have and just wait to make your investment. When you go from pregnancy to breastfeeding there’s absolutely no way to predict how large your breasts might get. Some women don’t change at all. Some women go up one cup size. Some women go up 4 cup sizes. Even if you’ve had previous babies, it’s can be different with every baby. Give it 6 weeks to regulate or you may end up needing a completely different size later.
  • You don’t have to rule out underwire bras for breastfeeding. Just be sure that the underwire is not pressing on any breast tissue including on the side under your arm as that can compress milk ducts and potentially cause mastitis. The underwire bras for nursing, such as the Belle Underwire Nursing Bra from Bravado actually have flexible underwire and that underwire is less risk for your milk ducts. Even with a flexible underwire, you’re putting something into the bra that is restricting the movement of the cup. Judy recommends waiting until after the baby comes, about 6 weeks postpartum before getting something with an underwire because by the time 6 weeks comes you go up and then you come down a little bit, and then your milk regulates and so you’re about at the size that you’re going to be for the duration of your breastfeeding.
  • Even wireless bras that are too tight can cause issues. An ill-fitting bra that compresses breast tissue rather than support it can lead to reduced supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, and more.

Avoid these common bra mistakes when breastfeeding

  • Wrong size. Proper fit matters!
  • Only having one bra. The recommendation is that you have a minimum of 3 bras, and don’t wear the same bra more than one day at a time. Rotate them and they will last longer. This applies to non-breastfeeding moms too.
  • Sleeping in your daytime bra. Use a sleep bra. It should be only enough support to keep a breast pad in place and sleeping in a daytime bra can cause problems.

 

Judy Masucci is a Ph.D. Scientist turned bra fitting guru. She lives in Wexford, PA just north of Pittsburgh, where she operates the region’s only specialty bra boutique, Levana Bratique. Judy has been fitting women in great bras for over 10 years, both virtually and in person. She specializes in hard to find sizes, carrying over 150 different sizes of bras. Often referred to as the “bra whisperer,” Judy has made it her mission to change women’s lives- one bra at a time.

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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