The 13 Best Nursing Bras, According to Real Moms

Yes to comfort, no to clogged ducts

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best nursing bras: four bras with special nursing design
Bravado! Designs, Lively, Boob, ThirdLove

We're all rah-rah for breastfeeding—studies have shown it does everything from improve heart health for the mother to increase later school success for the young 'un. (Plus, yay oxytocin.) But as in all worthwhile pursuits, you'll need support—in this case, the right nursing bras for all your activities, including the best for sleep, best nursing sports bra, best you can get so easily on Amazon—and yes, the optimum nursing bra for large busts.

“I quickly learned that the best nursing bra was one that made it possible for the baby to have easy access my boobs—and fast,” says one new mom. “Also, you may want to bring more than one size to the hospital so you have options as your milk starts to come in.”

Ultimately, your nursing bra comes down to personal preference. That’s why we asked eight real moms to share their picks for the absolute best nursing bras. After all, they’re the ones who learned on the job. We've also consulted experts, bra makers and educational breastfeeding resources to determine the best options for you, your boobs and your babies.

50 Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding

Meet the Experts

  • Melissa Kotlen is a registered nurse and lactation consultant. She is the manager at Boram Postnatal Retreat, an individualized postpartum program focusing on supporting women and their babies in the fourth trimester.
  • Kathleen McCue is a nurse practitioner and certified lactation consultant based in Bethesda, Maryland. She is the owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding, a team of 17 nurses, doulas and other experts dedicated to creating customized experiences to lead families through their breastfeeding eperiences. McCue has assisted more than 5,000 breastfeeding dyads in her career.
  • Isabel Norman-Vitorovic is the senior customer service and sales manager at Bravado! Designs. This Toronto-based company was started by two women 30 years ago around a kitchen table to address the need for comfortable nursing bras; today it sells internationally and on Amazon and maintains a fit specialist call line.
  • Brandi Jordan is a certified lactation consultant, doula and member of Swehl's Motherboard, the breastfeeding platform's panel of advisors made up of doctors, doulas and lactation experts. In 2009, she opened The Cradle Company, a pregnancy and postpartum resource center.

What is a Nursing Bra?

"A nursing bra is definitely more than just a regular bra," explained fit specialist Norman-Votorovic. "A nursing bra is designed to have a nursing clip that Mom can undo to give access to baby for breastfeeding. But more than that, it's a bra that will give a woman the comfort and support for her changing body, ensuring that she doesn’t have anything digging into her" or that her breast isn't overflowing the cup. And one refrain from every expert we spoke with: measure before you buy. "Breast size can change during pregnancy and postpartum, so your pre-pregnancy bra size may not be accurate," McCue says. "Make sure you check each brand's measuring guide to make sure you are using the proper measurement for each brand. They are not all the same."

How We Tested the Best Nursing Bras

We started by asking fit professionals and moms what special features they were looking for in a nursing bra, and what pain points they encountered. Moms recommended their favorites from brands including ThirdLove, Lively and Bravado! Designs, rating them on ease of use (were the clips easy to undo with one hand?), durability (was the stretch long-lasting through multiple washes a week?), style and always, comfort. Special shapes such as bralettes, designs with flexi wire support and pumping bras (designed to hold mobile breast pumps) were discussed, as well as exercise and sleeping bra styles.

Finally, we sought out a wide range of sizes and price points—the latter is especially important since nursing breasts leak, so moms might opt to have more bras in their weekly rotation than pre-pregnancy. "At a minimum, I recommend two to three bras for everyday wear in black, skin tone or white to blend in under clothing," said McCue. Doula and lactation consultant Jordan endorses purpose-specific bras. "My bare minimum suggestion would be four bras—one sleeping bra, and two daytime support bras (in case one is dirty you have a spare). If you are pumping then I’d highly recommend getting a pumping bra," she said. "Also, if you are a pretty active person you might want one to two sports nursing bras in your inventory as well."

Best Nursing Bras at a Glance


Best For Large Busts

ThirdLove’s 24/7 Classic Nursing Bra

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Best on Amazon

Bravado! Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

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Best Nursing Sports Bra

Cadenshae High Impact Nursing Sports Bra

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Tops for Uplift

Wacoal Underwire T-Shirt Nursing Bra

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Best Thin Design

Lively The Busty Nursing Bralette

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Best For Large Busts

1. ThirdLove’s 24/7 Classic Nursing Bra


  • What We Like: tagless scratch-free printed label, foam-padded hook and eye
  • What We Don't Like: limited palette, underwire
  • Material: flexible nylon-coated nickel-free wires, Pima cotton/spandex
  • Size range: 32 to 44, A through H
  • Underwire: yes
  • Style: clip-down cups

ThirdLove creates bras that don't sacrifice style for comfort. In their maternity collection, this style has quickly become a favorite. For starters, it actually looks like a normal bra (a design feat, if you ask us). And a luxe bra at that, since it has pleated straps that look elegant and at the same time have soft lining that prevents them from slipping. The gold-alloy strap clips are elegant, which is a welcome bit of prettiness in the design, and the Pima cotton and memory foam cups adjust to your body for added comfort, whether you’re empty or engorged. On that front, the moms were huge fans of its adjustability: “It comes with five different hook-and-eye closures, so you can really toggle the band to accommodate not just your comfort, but the status of your milk supply, whether you’re pre- or post-feed,” one tester said.

Best on Amazon

2. Bravado! Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

Bravado! Designs

  • What We Like: 3D molded cups, multiple colorways
  • What We Don't Like: can stretch out with repeat wear
  • Material: 70 percent recycled nylon, 20 percent virgin nylon, 10 percent spandex
  • Size range: xs to 1x plus
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip down

There’s a reason this nursing bra is a Mom’s Choice Award winner. Not only is it wire-free, it’s designed like a sports bra to offer support, but with four-way stretch fabric that hugs your changing shape. It also comes with molded cups and removable foam inserts to provide structure and separate the “girls” so you still feel put together. Bravado Designs fit specialist Isabel Norman-Vitorovic says "one of the main pain points in maternity bra shopping is feeling you have to compromise style for fit and comfort, so we want to give her something similar to what she’s used to. If she’s used to a bralette or pretty colors, this is a bra where she is actually excited to put it on." This bra checks all the boxes, thanks to its smooth seamless fabric (just like our favorite bralettes), and Pinterest-pretty colors including butterscotch, roseclay and dusted peony. And how’s this for a ringing endorsement? Lactation consultant Melissa Kotlen says it’s her all-time favorite nursing bra. “It’s not dowdy or formal—it’s unbelievably comfortable and stretches with your daily supply fluctuations without stretching out.”

Best Nursing Sports Bra

3. Cadenshae High Impact Nursing Sports Bra


  • What We Like: hook and eye band extender, can clip back together for a racerback
  • What We Don't Like: cannot tumble dry, straps may be too slender for large chests
  • Material: outer: 82 percent nylon, 18 percent spandex; nursing sling: 100 percent cotton; back lining: 88 percent nylon, 12 percent spandex
  • Size Range: XS to XXL (E to G Cup)
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip-down cups 

True story: Before finding this clever pick, one of our moms was doubling up on bras every time she wanted to go for a run postpartum. Not after she found this bra, which comes with an extra added hook and eye extender. This is great because it means that if you fit in it during early pregnancy, you can use the extender to make it bigger mid-pregnancy when your ribcage expands, then take it off again when your rib cage reduces back to its prepartum size. "A band does evolve from early stages of the pregnancy and it will expand," explained bra fit expert Isabel Norman-Vitorovic, but she notes that all bodies are different. So choosing a bra with a lot of adjustability extends the life of the bra. Additionally, this Cadenshae design is not only chic, but it also provides loads of support thanks to padding at the shoulders and the option to crossover into a racerback. “This bra was seriously comfortable, but it was snug enough so that my boobs weren’t bouncing all over the place when I got back into exercising post-baby,” she says. And thanks to easy-to-undo clasps, nursing post-workout is easy. Cadenshae's wide selection of nursing sports bras is also endorsed by lactation consultants and doctors who specialize in prenatal and postnatal care, so you can rest assured that your girls are in good hands. 

Tops for Uplift

4. Wacoal Underwire T-Shirt Nursing Bra


  • What We Like: pretty lace trim, cups have internal A-frame to stabilize breasts while nursing
  • What We Don't Like: center gore might be too high for deep V bra wearers
  • Material: 85 percent polyester, 15 perent spandex; lace: 87 perent nylon, 13 percent spandex
  • Size range: 32 to 38, C to DD
  • Underwire: yes
  • Style: clip down

Stretchy, non-itchy lace trim is the first thing that you'll love about this bra, a smart nursing design that looks so good, you'll forget it’s functional. The bra allows you to adjust the band size as your body changes throughout your pregnancy but comes with a flexible underwire to offer support without digging in. Lactation consultant Brandi Jordan wants to call out a special caution for women considering underwire bras: "We would want moms to note bras with under-wiring, or other firm structure, can contribute to blocked ducts and even mastitis so are best avoided in the early months." However, once you're ready for underwire, may we point out a special detail on this bra? The cups are engineered to stay in place after unfastening until you pull them down, so you won’t suffer any embarrassing moments on the playground or on the go. One mom who nursed for a year and swore by this bra says, “This is hands-down the only bra that gives me a perky, normal shape while still being a nursing bra. The rest of the ones I tried—even ones at higher price points—made my boobs look low and sad.”

Best Thin Design

5. Lively The Busty Nursing Bralette


  • What We Like: wide athletic-inspired bands, lightweight construction
  • What We Don't Like: might not be supportive enough for big busts
  • Material: body: 85 percent nylon, 15 percent spandex; mesh: 77 percent nylon, 23 percent spandex
  • Size range: 30A to 38D
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip-down cups

We call it like we see it: Nursing is sexy. But even on the days when you feel like a bruised and milk-spattered cow, this bra will make you feel just a hair more alluring, thanks to a mesh design with peekaboo details around your décolletage. It's convenient, with front-adjusting straps so you can easily tighten or loosen your straps without taking the whole thing off. It also delivers on comfort and support with an extra-wide band and super-strong straps to keep everything lifted high. One mom attested: “This bra offered just the right amount of support as my milk supply leveled out. I wore it when I was feeding multiple times a day, but it also carried me through as I started to wean.”

  • What We Like: no padding, soft enough to sleep in
  • What We Don't Like: racerback style may be too bulky
  • Material: rayon, spandex
  • Size range: S to 2X, B-D and E-L cups
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: pull aside cups

Lactation consultant Brandi Jordan explains that "sleeping nursing bras generally have no clips or clasps and provide easy access to nursing during the night. These are also referred to as crossover bras." As for this Kindred Bravely design, it comes with 90 full days to test it and return it free of charge. But chances are you won’t be disappointed: The crossover front and stretchy fabric make this nursing bra super comfy for sleep, and the moms we spoke to loved the fact that you can just pull aside the fabric for those bleary-eyed nighttime feeds. And don’t be fooled by the flexible shape. Even though it's a pullover style made of super-stretchy rayon-spandex, it still offers support enough for everything from strolling with your mom friends to taking a yoga class. “This is my go-to bra for overnight but also for lounging,” one woman said.

Top Bra with Removable Pads

7. Boob Seamless Nursing Bra


  • What We Like: long hook-and-eye band allows for maximum size fluctuation, minimalist chic style
  • What We Don't Like: minimal cup separation
  • Material: 89 percent polyamide (of which 78 percent is recycled polyamide) and 11 percent elastane
  • Size range: s to xl
  • Underwire: No
  • Style: clip down

"Most women will opt for some sort of padding for nipple discretion," said Kathleen McCue of Metropolitan Breastfeeding. "In the early days of breastfeeding, particularly when you are leaking quite a bit, a bra with removable pads may be your best option as you will likely be wearing nursing pads." Real moms applaud the fit of this nursing bra, especially those who prefer a larger cup. But it’s not just the full coverage that makes this a standout. The cups come with a double layer of material for added support and the band features an extra-long hook-and-eye panel, which makes it easy to adjust as your size fluctuates. One woman we talked to bought this in her third trimester and wore it straight through delivery and beyond: “The fit and coverage is great, but it also felt pretty and stylish, too.”

  • What We Like: super-stretchy, comes in eight pretty colors
  • What We Don't Like: the soft cup style can appear unaboob on fuller chests
  • Material: 90 percent nylon, 10 percent elastane
  • Size Range: small to x-large
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip down

"I LOVE this bra, and I have four of them currently (three months post-pregnancy). Honestly, I will probably continue wearing them even when I'm no longer nursing baby," says one five-star reviewer. "They feel like a comfortable, low/medium impact sports bra with super soft, supportive but stretchy material." This bra gets a nod for its cooling material, a Nilit 6.6 Softex microfiber that's Oeko-Tex certified, which means it is created without harmful chemicals that could potentially irritate mom or baby. And the high-tensile fabric is going to keep its shape, even as the ribbing under the bust and to the side expands to accommodate engorgement.

Best Nursing and Pumping Bralette

9. Simple Wishes SuperMom™ Nursing And Pumping Bralette

Simple Wishes

  • What We Like: keyhole cutout, convertible bra straps
  • What We Don't Like: may not offer enough support for large chests
  • Material: modal spandex and nylon spandex
  • Size range: small to x-large, regular and full cup
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip down

"I highly recommend Simple Wishes Supermom styles for their unique design that balances ideal compression for all-day wear and your breast health with optimal support of your breast pump," says lactation consultant McCue. "The secret is their Comfort Sling accessory that is included with each style." The Comfort Sling meant to be worn only when pumping; it clips to the outside of your bra cups, then goes up and around your neck to offer extra support when those milk receptacles are getting full. To customize the tension of your cup lift while you're wearing it, you can tighten each bra strap from a front clasp. Another standout feature of this bra is the sizing which comes in regular and full cups to fit smaller and larger-breasted women even before the milk comes in.

Best Pumping Bra

10. Hatch Skin to Skin Bra


  • What We Like: hardware-free, hands-free pumping
  • What We Don't Like: pumping bra does not offer drop-down cups for nursing
  • Material: 84 percent modal, 13 percent nylon, 3 percent elastane
  • Size Range: small to x-large
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: side slit for pump placement

One five-star reviewer deemed this the best exclusively pumping bra. "Love this pumping bra!" she wrote. "Have tried four other brands and they just didn’t cut it. They either washed badly or fit weirdly or didn’t hold the flanges correctly. This bra is awesome and just wear it all day as an everyday bra. My only complaint is that it is a little pricey!" The super-soft fabric has a high concentration of wood pulp-derived modal, and wearers sensitive to clasps will appreciate the over-the-head, clasp-free design.

  • What We Like: smooth appearance, wide comfort band
  • What We Don't Like: hand wash only, need to check chart for UK/US size conversion
  • Material: 78 percent nylon, 22 percent elastane
  • Size Range: 32D to 38H (UK sizes)
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip down

"The most common nursing bras you would see online or in a clothing store will be seamless (think the “t-shirt” bra)," said lactation consultant Brandi Jordan. We nominate this seamless, full-coverage cup design as the ideal example, not least because it has a full six hook-and-eye clasp settings to take in your expanding rib cage. "I'm a 18FF and find wires uncomfortable currently," writes one U.K.-based reviewer. "This is the first wire-free bra that I feel supported in and is holding up the girls." We're impressed with the way the medium-deep V-neck style and contoured fabric smooths and separates—so hand-washing is no great sacrifice if it mean we don't have to suffer underwires digging into our chests. Just be sure to check the brand's size conversion chart and packaging in case your fit isn't just right.

Best Multi-Pack

12. Bodily Do-Anything Bra Set


  • What We Like: converts to racerback, hands-free pumping and nursing
  • What We Don't Like: set has to be in same size, might not be enough support for large chests
  • Material: 76 percent polyamide, 24 perent elastane.
  • Size Range: s to 3x
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip down

Experienced maternity bra fitter Isabel Norman-Vitorovic recommends having five bras for nursing and/or pumping, since changing breast sizes, middle-of-the-night milk leaks and baby spit-ups can necessitate a change-up more frequently than in a woman's pre-nursing days. That's why this mix-and-match set of three wire-free bras appeals to us—in comes in three colors and the style is lightweight and soft enough to be worn as a sleeping bra. Is the extra cost of a pumping bra worth it? "I am going to give a resounding YES," said doula and lactation consultant Brandi Jordan. "Your life will be transformed for the better the moment you are able to sit through a pump session completely hands free (really just trust me on that it is life-changing!)."

  • What We Like: 10 sorbet colors including tie-dye and mulberry pink, removable pads
  • What We Don't Like: larger chests might not feel enough support
  • Material: 94 percent polyamide, 6 percent spandex
  • Size Range: S to XL
  • Underwire: no
  • Style: clip down

“Gratlin is one of the best full-coverage nursing bras without underwire,” says Kotlen. But it’s also only $18, which is a real plus if you’re buying a bunch at one time. (Trust us, you’ll want to wash your nursing bra frequently—or else endure the wafting aroma of sour milk.) Other details that make this a standout: The tightly knitted underband and the soft, smooth fabric, which comes with body-hugging stretch but also a side panel to help reduce under-arm bulge. Also, the nursing clips can be wrangled with one hand. “This bra checks all the boxes,” one mom added. “I recommend it constantly.”

What to consider when shopping for a nursing bra

Primary among all our sources was an emphasis on fit. "First and foremost, understand how much your body is going to change and grow from your initial postpartum period through the length of your breastfeeding experience, however long you choose to breastfeed," said Motherboard lactation consultant Brandi Jordan. "You want to make sure you are buying nursing bras that can support that change in size over time, as well as the daily ebb and flow of engorgement and fullness that will fluctuate between feedings." According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, comfort is critical, especially since breasts are not just enlarged but often sore as well. As the AAP explains, a nursing bra should never be tight or constricting—if it is, you could be more prone to clogged ducts. (So, supportive but never binding or pinching, okay?)

Consider specific features including wide straps (for added support and comfort), adjustable band size and/or band extenders (to fit around your expanding ribs) as well as supportive lower cup design (to hold your boobs up, of course). Make note of the fabric the bra is made from: Jordan recommends "natural breathable materials like cotton. Synthetic fibers can often trap moisture such as leaked milk which can cause irritation or worse conditions like thrush." Finally, look for easily accessible clips that you can open and close with one hand. This last feature will come in handy not just for moments when you’re trying to discreetly nurse in public, but for those times when you’re using the other hand to position a wiggly, hangry baby.

What are the different types of nursing bras?

"Nursing bras come in various styles, including sports bras, sleep bras, everyday bras for nursing and/or pumping and standalone bras meant only for pump support," said Kathleen McCue, who counsels women to consider lifestyle when choosing the styles that suit them best. "For example, Simple Wishes even has tank tops and night dresses with nursing and pump support features." The common design element in all these bras is quick access to the breast, either by drop-down clips that reveal the nipple or via soft chest bands or crisscross cups that can be lifted up or over the breast to make way for baby’s latching. But a reminder per La Leche League International, “Bras with under-wiring, or other firm structure, can contribute to blocked ducts and even mastitis, so are best avoided in the early months.”

Do I need a separate pumping bra?

"If you plan to return to work, invest in a few all-day wear nursing and pumping bras for convenience," McCue says. "You'll thank yourself." According to breast pump brand Willow, a separate pumping bra is different from a traditional nursing bra because it not only provides easy nipple access but also has inserts to hold your pump flanges, enabling hands-free, on-the-go pumping. So if you’re planning to try pumping, it’s worth adding at least one pumping bra into your fourth trimester undies wardrobe.

How do I know what size nursing bra to buy?

Kotlen recommends checking out a breastfeeding specialty store (just do a Yelp search in your area) in order to get fitted and find your proper size. "The truth is most women don’t know how to get the right size bra prior to pregnancy and this carries over to the period of time when you are looking for a nursing bra," says Jordan. "I always encourage my clients to go to a department store like Nordstrom or a specialty bra store where they can be properly fitted for their bra. However a good rule of thumb is to add one cup size and one back band size to that bra size that you normally wear. For example, if you are normally a 32A you might start with a 34B." Authorities agree that it's best to try to wait until late in your pregnancy, say until after your 36th or 37th week, to fit your nursing bra, since there’s no way of predicting exactly what size you will be once your baby has been born. Additionally, says bra seller Bravissimo, you may well need to re-assess your needs after you’ve been breastfeeding a while, based on your engorgement patterns and comfort preferences. For example, underwires may be too stiff and softer flexi-wires or fabric bands might feel better to you. One final note: Nursing bras are qualified expenses under many FSA/HSA plans, so save your receipts.

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...

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