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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It’s TLB’s 5th Birthday! Time to Party Like a Leaky Part 2!

 The Leaky Boob is turning 5 years old and we’re celebrating ALL MONTH LONG! To celebrate we’re collecting and sharing your stories along with collecting some of our favorite maternity, breastfeeding, and baby products to give as gifts to YOU Leakies. Each week our celebration includes a different birthday bash bundle of prizes from our favorite brands, presents for Leakies. AND we’re growing! Some of us aren’t breastfeeding or bottle-feeding any more (and you thought it was going to last forever) but you’re still a part of our community and you’re still nourishing and loving your family so we’ve grown to expand two more communities where we can talk about our highs and lows of that journey in a safe, judgment-free environment. Over on BeyondMoi.com we talk a lot about, well, everything, specially about parenting and relationships. OurStableTable.com invites everyone to find a seat at the table embracing that sometimes there’s a little wobble in one of our legs, making room for allergies, and creatively nourishing our whole selves with recipes and a lot of honest conversation. Our family is growing and we’re happy to share it with you!


Let’s party like a Leaky this month and #TLBsupportForward!

Bundle #2

Here is what’s included in TLB’s Birthday Bash Bundle #2:

Tula Baby Carriers: Ring Sling – Retail Value: $135
Tula Carriers, Ring Slings, and Wraps, known for comfort, quality, and style, are the top choice in handmade ergonomic baby carriers to be used from birth through toddlerhood and beyond.

GladRagsCloth Pad Sampler Kit – Retail Value: $95
An excellent start to any cloth pad user’s collection available in a variety of fun and colorful styles. The Pad Sampler Kit contains 3 GladRags Day Pads, 3 GladRags Pantyliners, 1 GladRags Night Pad, 1 GladRags Carry Bag, 1 Mesh Laundry Bag. New to cloth pads? The Cloth Pad Sampler Kit is a great place to start! For most women, this kit contains enough pads to cover you for part of your cycle. You’ll get to try our Day Pads, Pantyliners, and Night Pads and discover which ones are the best fit for your body and your flow. Tote them on the go in your Carry Bag, and make sure nothing gets lost in the wash with the Mesh Laundry Bag!

Bamboobiesa Multi-pack Bamboobies Nursing Pads (3 Pairs Regular + 1 Pair Overnight), Boob♥ease 100% Organic Nipple Balm and our Bamboobies Chic Nursing Shawl – Retail Value: $68

Snugabell Mom & Baby GearPumpEase – Retail Value: $38
PumpEase is the only hands-free pumping bra that’s as stylish as it is functional. Free up both hands while you pump!

Baby K’tan, LLC: ACTIVE Baby Carrier – Retail Value: $60
The Baby K’tan ACTIVE Baby Carrier is an innovative “ready to wear” wrap. Made of hi-tech performance fabric, it provides a unique temperature control, wicks away moisture, and blocks over 90% of UVA and UVB rays. The carrier’s unique double-loop design functions as an all-in-one sling, wrap and baby carrier, yet does not require any wrapping or buckling. Simply slip it on like a t-shirt! The Baby K’tan is sized like clothing for the perfect fit (XS, S, M, L, XL) and offers multiple positions from 8-35 lb. Chemical free, azo dye free. No hardware, plastic or metal.

Naked Nursing Tank: Nursing Tank – Retail Value: $40
100% Canadian made Luxury Bamboo Naked Nursing Tank – A midsection cover-up for breastfeeding moms worn underneath regular wardrobe. Allows moms to lift their shirt to nurse their babies while their midriff stays covered at the same time. The Naked Tank is the only nursing tank on the market that can be worn with any bra, and fits every body type (sizes XS – 5X), turning every shirt into a nursing shirt -saving Mom’s money!!

Momzelle Breastfeeding Apparel: Momzelle Gift Card – Retail Value: $50 USD
Shop our online store for the nursing top of your choice. We have a full line of stylish and practical clothes all designed with easy to use nursing openings. From nursing tanks and tees to beautiful nursing dresses, breastfeed your baby anywhere and everywhere with comfort and ease.

A Mother’s BoutiqueVirtual Bra Fitting(R) – Retail Value: $25
Most Moms don’t know what size bra they should be wearing. Our service helps them to figure it out and make recommendations for bras that will meet their needs. It also includes a $25 discount toward one bra of their choice.

Ameda: Store’N Pour Breastmilk Storage Bags – Retail Value :$13
The Store‘N Pour Breast Milk Storage Bags feature everything a mother could want including easy-close zip seal so bags won’t leak, unique tear-and-pour spout helps prevent spills during milk transfer and a gusseted bottom allows filled bag to stand on its own. 50 bags plus 2 adapters.

Bonus from Ameda: [email protected]’s T-Shirt! – Retail Value: $15
All proceeds from the sale of the shirt go to Mother & Child Health Coalition in St Louis.

Total Value of this bundle: $539

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from April 7, 2015 through April 15, 2015.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors of this birthday giveaway bundle for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank them on their Facebook pages for their show of support!

This giveaway bundle is for U.S. and Canada Residents only. That’s right, Canadian Leakies: This giveaway is for you too! 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Virtual bra fitting experience from a Leaky

I’ve referred quite a few Leakies to A Mother’s Boutique for virtual bra fittings and great costumer service in selecting a bra.  Recently one had such a positive experience she wrote to tell me about it and I thought I’d share it with everyone.

 

A Mother's Boutique shop, nursing bras, breastfeeding

Dear Jessica, 

I wanted to thank you for referring me to Judy at A Mother’s Boutique. I was able to experience an awesome virtual bra fitting service from the comfort of my own home. Honestly, I had doubt thinking how I can order a bra from home and it actually fit well. I emailed Judy inquiring about nursing bras since I am large breasted I have a hard time finding bras with good support. I received an immediate response from Judy regarding my inquiry. She asked me a list of questions such as my current bra size I was wearing, how the bra fit, what I was looking for in a bra and if I was currently pregnant or how old is my little one.  These questions were detailed questions besides the famous question of “what are your measurements”. That question is highly important, but Judy goes beyond the norm to make sure she finds the right bra that fits perfectly for each momma. I was looking for a bra with good support, an underwire and plain in style. After answering all the questions, I received an email with what size I should be wearing and a list of bras that covered what I wanted in a nursing bra. It turned out I have been wearing the wrong bra size my entire life. I thought the size she told me couldn’t possibly be right but knowing I can exchange the bras I decided to order based on the sizing Judy provided for me. I choose the Smooth Nursing Bra and the Anita. The bras came within 2 days and there was no charge for shipping which is an added bonus. I hate having to pay for shipping. Each bra I purchased cost $55.00 which to some people may seem expensive, but for the quality and service it is well worth every penny. I can tell by the quality that these bras will last a long time. Once the bras arrived in the mail I tried them on and they fit like a glove. I couldn’t be happier with the service provided by Judy at A Mother’s Boutique. I highly recommend the Leakies to try a virtual bra fitting with Judy because it was an overall easy and awesome experience with a wonderful outcome. 

Thanks Again, 

Brianne 

One Happy Leaky 

 

After years and years of wearing ill-fitting bras and giving up on nursing bras entirely, I have finally gotten into bras that are not only comfortable and fit well, but are cute and quality.  It turns out I didn’t like nursing bras that didn’t fit me well and were not well made.  Now I love them, thanks to Judy’s help and the breastfeeding bras I have will last beyond my breastfeeding years and are so cute I will still enjoy wearing them.  I will admit that I’ve never wanted to spend much on bras, it felt like such a wasteful expense so I consistently purchased cheap bras that were uncomfortable and fell apart.  My experience mirrors what Brianne enjoyed as well and I can say with confidence, it’s worth getting fitted and spending a little extra for a bra that will fit well and last.  Thanks to Brianne for sharing!

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Have you been fitted for a bra?  How much are you willing to spend on a breastfeeding specific bra?  How many breastfeeding specific bras do you own?

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You can find A Mother’s Boutique on Facebook and on their website.  To sign up for a virtual fitting with Judy, fill out this form.  Please note that though A Mother’s Boutique has been a TLB sponsor for a while now, this post is not a sponsored post.
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