The truth about maternity bras? There’s a good chance you’ll never need one. While your breasts will definitely grow throughout your pregnancy, buying regular bras in larger sizes often works just fine. (You’ll know you need a larger size when your boobs start to spill out of the cups and the straps dig into your shoulders.) If you go this route, pick something cheap — you won’t be wearing it for long. Comfy sports bras are also a good option for the late, don’t-really-care-what-you-look-like-anymore stage of pregnancy.
If a regular bra in a bigger size just isn’t doing the trick, though, a maternity bra can provide some major support. The straps have less elastic, keeping your breasts nice and lifted. Stretchy material on the wings is essential, because this allows the bra to adjust as your breasts continue to grow. (Yes, it’s possible.) For the same reason, make sure there are at least three options for size adjustment on the back strap.
You might also find comfort with a soft-cupped transitional bra, which you can use during the last weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks after birth, when your breasts start to get engorged with milk. The soft material will keep your breasts comfy as they change shape, and provide support while they’re still too tender for underwire. (When breasts are engorged, anything that presses on the tissue can cause clogged ducts.) Later, you can use the transition bra at nighttime with nursing pads to keep leaky breasts under control.
Tip: If you’re planning on breastfeeding, skip the maternity bra and buy your first nursing bra to use during the last weeks of pregnancy. Your breasts will still be larger than normal after you give birth, so the bra will still fit and you won’t have to splurge on yet another bra.