When it comes to the best maternity bras and the best nursing bras, there are endless options. You’ve got everyday nursing bras, sleep nursing bras, nursing bras with molded cups, pumping bras and extra-supportive nursing bras specifically made for women with larger busts. Yes, the cup runneth over with choices, but how do you know which one is right for you? Read on for the best nursing bras and the best maternity bras, plus shopping tips from The Bump’s go-to nursing and style experts, so you can find the perfect fit.
Shopping Tips for Maternity and Nursing Bras
There's no hard and fast rule, but women often find it's time to find a good maternity bra around week 18 of pregnancy. And no, your current bra in three sizes bigger won't do the trick—maternity and nursing bras are specifically designed to provide the best support for growing, pregnant bodies.
The features to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a regular bra are especially crucial when you’re looking for a nursing bra. Your girls are working hard for you and baby! So accommodate them well. The best nursing bras include these key components:
• Comfort. This should be at the top of your nursing bra must list during the first four to six weeks after having baby, says Stephanie Nguyen, founder of Modern Milk and a certified lactation consultant. She recommends stretchy nursing bras to accommodate the breast changes mom experiences during this time. “Look for nursing bras in soft fabrics,” Nguyen says. You'll also want to pick a maternity bra with thick back closures that have four or more hooks; wide, cushioned straps and a band that doesn't ride up in the back.
• Support. Breasts filled with milk are fuller (and heavier), so you’ll want more support than you had before baby. A supportive nursing bra also prevents sagging breasts after baby graduates from breastfeeding. “The band under the bust should be snug,” says New York City stylist Samantha Brown, but make sure the straps don’t cut into your shoulders. “An ill-fitting bra can impact a woman’s posture, and lead to strain and tension headaches,” Brown says.
• Coverage. The cup should fully cover your breast—something you'll especially appreciate after around six weeks. Says Nguyen, “I personally like bras with molded cups to help disguise nursing pads and nipples that may be a bit larger than before.”
• Ease. The best nursing bras make it seamless to breastfeed. “Look for removable pads, no underwire (if it’s a sleeping bra) and clips for easy feeding,” Brown says.
The Best Nursing Bras
What makes for the “best” nursing bras? Simple, Nguyen says: “If it fits, if it’s comfortable, if it’s easy to nurse in and you like the style.” No matter what you decide are the best nursing bras for you, Brown suggests picking up two nursing bras for daily wear (so you’ll always have one on hand when the other is in the wash) and one to sleep in. Keep in mind, Brown adds, “It's not unusual to change bra sizes within the first few weeks of breastfeeding”—so, if you’re shopping before baby arrives, consider buying one or two sizes larger than usual, so you have one ready to wear after birth.
Best nursing bras for everyday wear
Pip & Vine by Rose Pope Wire Free Lace Nursing Bra looks a lot like your average T-shirt bra, but with the added benefit of front clasps and quick-dry, turn-down cups. Among our picks of best nursing bras, it’s also lightly padded and wire-free for extra comfort.
Buy it: $42, Kohls
Cake’s Cotton Candy Seamless Nursing Bra —a winner according to both Nguyen and new moms we polled when it comes to best nursing bras—has a high thread count for extreme softness and a scoop neckline, making it comfy for day and night. It’s available in four colors, and its XL size can accommodate up to a 42E. (Good news for those looking for plus size nursing bras!)
Buy it: $53, Nordstrom
Real mom review: “The material was very soft, it's comfortable, the latch on the strap was easy to operate with one hand, and it has held up decently after almost 1.5 years of use. I have other nursing bras from places like Motherhood and Target, but still always choose my Cake bra. I bought another—I liked it so much. They also come in bigger sizes which is a big plus!” —Nicole C. via Facebook
Best nursing sports bras
Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Yoga Maternity/Nursing Bra is wire-free and has wide straps and a generous under-bust band. (The plus size nursing bras can accommodate up to a 44DDD cup size.) Whether you’re easing back into exercise with gentle yoga or jumping right into your pre-pregnancy running routine, this nursing bra provides support that feels just right.
Buy it: $49, Nordstrom
Belabumbum Mesh Nursing Sports Bra features breathable mesh cups and wide straps. This stretchy nursing bra will adjust to your blossoming figure while pregnant, and its wicking material will keep you cool during workouts. The J-hooks, which can be easily unlatched for nursing, can also be looped together for a racerback.
Buy it: $48, Figure8Maternity
Best cheap nursing bras
H&M MAMA 2-pack nursing bras are seriously cute—check out the prints and lace trim! But more importantly, they’re supremely comfortable, thanks to jersey-lined cups with room for nursing pads. The wider straps on this nursing bra also offers support and lift. (And two for $25? How can you beat it!)
Buy it: $25, HM.com
Leading Lady Loving Moments Full Coverage Seamless Underwire T-Shirt Nursing Bra is a taupe T-shirt bra with underwire—so you get a little boost along with the soft cups. (Plus size nursing bras available up to size 44DD.)
Buy it: $15, Walmart
Real mom review: “I am a size 40DD, and this bra is extremely supportive and comfortable.” —Nay via Walmart.com
Best sexy nursing bras
Le Mystere Sexy Mama Underwire Nursing Bra proves that nothing says sexy quite like peekaboo lace. Available in black and ivory, and in sizes 32D to 38G, this stunner among our best nursing bra picks is practical too, thanks to easily unfastened clips.
Buy it: $66, Nordstrom
Real mom review: “I LOVE Le Mystere nursing bras. They’re actually lacy and pretty — you don’t feel like you’re wearing a nursing bra. They also come in a wide variety of sizes, which is great for me, because I wear an F cup. I never thought I’d find nursing bras this pretty in my size.” —Morgan M. via Facebook
Motherhood Maternity Full-Coverage Lace Nursing Bra , which layers black lace over nude cups, is an equally sizzling nursing bra for a fraction of the price. It also has underwire and two simple clips for easy nursing. (There are also plus size nursing bras—it’s available in sizes 36E to 40F.)
Buy it: $20, Motherhood
Best full coverage nursing bras
Jessica Simpson Full-Coverage Seamless Convertible Nursing Bras rated highly among our readers. Of special note: This seamless nursing bra, which can easily be converted to a racerback to give you extra support.
Buy it: $35 Macys
Real mom review: “I love Jessica Simpson’s nursing bras. Heck, I’m not even breastfeeding anymore, and I still wear them!” —Cori H via Facebook
Medela Women’s Slimming Nursing Cami With Removable Pads is another style our Bumpies—and Nguyen—love for new moms when it comes to best nursing bras. The nursing tank offers full coverage and then some, plus easy-to-detach straps and a shirt-length cut give you extra coverage while nursing. Wear this alone or under another blouse or sweater.
Buy it: $26 Target
Best hands-free nursing bra
Bravado Designs Clip & Pump Hands Free Nursing Bra Accessory works with the everyday Bravado nursing bra (above). Just unclip your everyday bra and clip on the Clip & Pump, which accommodates nursing bottles. How’s that for a handy piece of technology?
Buy it: $30, Nordstrom.com
Best nursing sleep bras
Motherhood Maternity Lace Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra is all about comfort. With unlined spandex cups and no clasp in sight, how could this be anything but? (And yes, this nursing bra is pretty adorable too!)
Buy It: $20, Motherhood
Motherhood Maternity Plus Size Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra is made especially for plus-size moms. The cotton softie is also clasp-free, with crisscrossed cups that can easily be slid aside for nighttime nursing.
Buy it: $20, Motherhood
The Best Maternity Bras
The best maternity bras and the best nursing bras often can be used interchangeably. Here are our favorite picks that you can use now and once baby arrives.
Best maternity bras for everyday wear
iLoveSia 3-Pack Bralette has no underwire nor wide bands—just cups that drop down fully when you need them to, but they also leave enough room for you to add a cup or nursing pad when strapped up. Get three in a pack; also available as tanks.
Buy it: $21, Amazon
Real mom review: “I wear these iLoveSia bras 24/7. They’re easy and comfortable, as are their nursing tanks, which are super stretchy!” —Margarett B. via Facebook
Cosabella Never Say Never Maternity Mommie Nursing Bra is a sweet and sexy clasp-free sweetheart bralette that’s covered in soft white lace. The lightly padded cups on this nursing bra are made from a soft nylon blend, promising no irritation—crucial while your body is feeling especially sensitive.
Buy it: $79, Bergdorfgoodman
Best maternity sports bras
Cake Zest Flexi Wire High Impact Maternity & Nursing Sports Bra , available in plus size maternity bra as well, minimizes bounce and reduces friction while also wicking away moisture from the body. The wide straps offer comfortable support and the mesh panels increase breathability. Once baby arrives, the cups also drop down for easy feeding.
Buy it: $80, Cakematernity
Hotmilk Activate Sports Flexiwire During Bra includes flexible underwire for a little extra support and shaping, while the brand’s patented cotton blend keeps an expectant mom cool during a serious workout.
Buy it: $60, Curvy
Real mom review: ”As a dance teacher who is nursing and now very top-heavy (now a 34F, previously a 34C), I needed a sports bra that offered support and this bra does just that. It far exceeds the other nursing sports bras I own!” —Chelsea via Hotmilk
Best maternity sleep bras
A Pea in the Pod Full Coverage Nursing Bra is an unlined, full-coverage bra, designed for you to lounge and sleep with ease—and, later, nurse by simply pulling down the material. You have your choice of four colors (shown: lilac) and sizes accommodate up to a pre-pregnancy size 18.
Buy it: $38 Apeainthepod
Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Seamless Bra pulls right over your head so you can just get up and go. It’s soft, but supportive, with a wrap, pull-aside style that will later make lounging and nursing a breeze. (Plus size maternity bras available up to size XXL, or 40DD.)
Buy it: $30 Target
Real mom review: “I am 33 weeks pregnant and I am starting to feel super uncomfortable especially in my breast region. These are great, very soft and comfortable and take the pressure off of my back and neck.” —Whitney via Target
Best strapless maternity bras
Motherhood Maternity Seamless Strapless Maternity Bra is as comfy as a sleep bra. Seamless but with light support, it hugs the body gently, so you don’t have to hide your favorite strapless dresses for nine months (or when baby arrives).
Buy it: $21 Motherhood
Real mom review: “I bought this bra because I had a number of cute maternity dresses that needed a strapless bra, and at 25 weeks I cannot bear to wear underwire anymore, but there is no way I can go braless. This bra is so comfortable, offers great coverage, and has decent enough lift where I don't feel like I look sloppy. I bought two, and I may buy more after the baby as well because I just love it that much.” —Sarah via Motherhood Maternity
La Leche League Convertible Strapless Nursing Bra slips under a strapless dress, halter or strappy tank for instant—but gentle—support. Clear straps are included, should you want a little more lift, and the frame itself is built so it can be easily flipped up for nursing. If you want a little more wiggle room, plus size maternity bras are available up to size XL, which accommodates a size 38 band.
Buy it $33 BuyBuyBaby
Updated May 2018