Since we opened in 2002, we've steadily grown our selection of nursing bras to include Bravado Designs, Emma Jane, Elle McPherson, Bendon, Bella Materna, and Anita brands. We can accommodate sizes up to a K cup. If you're an online customer, this may surprise you since we only list our Bravado bras online. Why don't we list them all? I'm a firm believer that bras should be purchased in person. There will be diferences in fit between different brands and styles of bras -- for example, a 36C Bravado Lifestyle bra will fit considerably different than a 36C Emma Jane 411, despite their apparent similarities (both are seamless microfiber nursing bras).
The question we are asked most frequently with respect to purchasing a nursing bra is "when should I buy my bras?". A lot of women come into the store around 38 weeks under the misguided notion they should have their bras on hand for when their baby is born. In fact, several moms-to-be have told me a certain nationwide retailer advises they purchase their bras a couple of weeks before giving birth -- ignore this advice! Most of the changes in your breasts occur after your milk comes in. Your milk will start to come in 2-3 days postpartum, and for the next couple of weeks, you may experience periods of engorgement as your body adjusts to your baby's needs and schedule. During this period, your cup size may fluctuate wildly -- as a result, the two weeks following childbirth is not a good time to get fitted for your bra. Nursing bras can be a considerable investment, especially if you have larger cup size. -- you want to buy something that will fit for a while, not for the brief time you are engorged.
What should you do for the two weeks after your baby is born? I recommend to our customers that they purchase a tank top with a shelf bra built in (if you've already got one at home, even better!). I specifically recommend the Joe Fresh tank tops, which can be found at most Loblaws, Superstores, Your Independent Grocers, Zehrs, etc., in the sleep department. The beauty of these tank tops is that they offer light support -- when your breasts are engorged, the light support is a welcome relief from the constriction of a proper bra. The other plus of the Joe Fresh tanks tops is that they are quite inexpensive -- only $6.00! They are great for nursing because you can easily access your breasts by pulling down the top of the tank top (the material is a cotton/spandex blend). After engorgement passes, these tank tops make wonderful sleep bras -- it will be the best $6.00 you have ever spent!
If you want to purchase a bra earlier than two weeks postpartum, buy something that offers flexible sizing. The Emma Jane 381 and 385 styles fit cup sizes B-DD, so they're a good choice if you're starting with a smaller cup. They aren't the most attractive bras, but at $40.00 and $50.00 respectively, they won't break the bank. The Bravado Original bra falls into the same category -- at $35.00, it's comfortable and each size will allow for growth in the band and cup, but they're not great daytime bras, especially if you have a larger cup (one word: uniboob!). We do stock bras that are more flattering, and that accommodate a range of sizes, so you will have room to grow. The Bravado Bodysilk is a huge hit with our customers, the M size, for example, fits bands 34-40, and cups B-F (dependent on your band size). Alternately, the Bella Materna Comfort Shape Bralet Full cup accommodates larger cup sizes, thier M size fits band sizes 34-38, and cups D-H (dependent on your band size).
After 'when', the most popular question we are asked with respect to nursing bras is "how many should I buy?". Three to five bras is a reasonable number of nursing bras -- more if you leak a lot, less if you don't leak (and don't worry, not leaking doesn't indicate a low milk supply, it only indicates good fortune!). On a related note, we advise against purchasing nursing pads before baby is born -- if you don't leak, you won't need them. I'm a big fan of only buying things you need, so hold off on the nursing pads until you know you need them.
Once your milk supply is established, you can come in for a bra-fitting, our staff members can help you find bras that are comfortable and flattering. It is amazing how many women come into the store wearing the wrong size bra, usually they are wearing a band size that is too large, and a cup size that is too small. If you wear a bra that fits, the girls will get more support, and you will look and feel better.
This weekend, several cities across Canada will be holding breastfeeding challenges as a way to provide encouragement and support to nursing mothers, and to raise general awareness about breastfeeding. We have donated $5.00 gift certificates to every participant in Ottawa, and in K-W, we have donated larger gift certificates that will be raffled at the challenge.