The Maternity Bras to Get You Through Every Trimester
Pregnancy fashion can be more confusing than it needs to be. After all, at this point, you’d think there’d be a paint-by-number approach—or at least a subscription service—for the range of maternity bras you’ll need before (and after) baby. Still, every mom-to-be is different, which is why it’s smart to focus on a range of attributes when picking out the perfect prenatal bra. As a rule of thumb, you’ll most likely end up investing in three total bras (give or take) to get you through the trimester by trimester transition. That’s why we asked real moms to share the maternity bras that carried them through—and the qualities they loved the most about each one.
First TrimesterTruth: The first 12 weeks of pregnancy can be defined by how totally different you feel on the inside—and how much your body feels the exact same on the outside. After all, by the 13th week—when you round the corner into the second trimester—your baby is merely the size of a plum, bordering on a peach. (That doesn't warrant much of an external size change.)
This means that you can feel comfortable continuing to wear your typical bra during this time with a few comfort-themed tweaks. For one thing, your bra shouldn’t ever feel tight. (If it does, that’s where bra extenders like this three-pack for $5 can come in handy, especially in trimester one.) But most importantly, you want a bra with support in the form of sturdy seams and straps.
Real Moms Recommend: Third Love’s Pima Cotton T-Shirt Bra
Between the ultra-soft pima cotton it comes in and the size range (it runs from A to I), this is a great non-maternity maternity bra to have in your arsenal for the early days. The memory foam cups also conform to your body for added support, great as your breast size begins to transform.
Second TrimesterYou’ll start notice the first boob sizing fluctuations between weeks 13 and 28. The hormones in your body are preparing your breasts for lactation, which means your milk ducts are growing and being stretched as they fill with milk early in pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This can cause sensitivity—and an increase in cup size—which is why it becomes even more critical that the maternity bra you invest in offers comfort and support. It’s also worth considering the fabric type. (Cotton, for example, allows maximum air flow and won’t trap moisture or sweat.)
Real Moms Recommend: Storq Everyday Bra
This soft cup bra is designed to accommodate boobs in flux. It’s also made mostly from modal—a super luxe fiber derived from beech trees. (Ahem, it’s super comfortable.) One mom we chatted with said that she liked how “no frills” this maternity bra is, but also the combination of stretch and support it provides. The fact that she could use it when nursing down the line? That was just a bonus. (“Just pull the cups to the side,” she explained.)
Real Moms Recommend: Hatch’s The Bra
Perfect for lounging, this bra offers expandable support thanks to its snug stretch jersey shape. Moms we talked to love this style for its transitional qualities. “It’s a bra that I felt OK wearing on my couch, but also under a top at work,” said one.
Third TrimesterBy this point, your breasts will not only start to feel bigger, but heavier and denser, too. Colostrum, also known as pre-milk, could come in as early as the second trimester. (It’s also what provides your baby with their first few meals before your milk supply officially comes in.) This makes now an optimal time to transition to a nursing bra (one with cups that open and close via a hook-and-eye closure), assuming you’re planning to nurse. In fact, most maternity bras are nursing hybrids, giving you the option for both. Comfort and support is again key, but it’s also smart to consider your needs with this purchase (i.e., do you want a bra that you can lounge around at home in or one that you can wear when you head back to work).
As far as sizing goes, you may have to experiment since your cup size will increase when your milk supply comes in. (Just be sure whatever size you choose provides full cup coverage and band support even when the cup flaps are down.)
Real Moms Recommend: Bravado’s Seamless Nursing Bra
This nursing bra—a Mom’s Choice Award winner—is wire-free and designed like a sports bra to offer support, but also four-way stretch fabric so it hugs your changing shape. “It’s not dowdy, you can wear it under loose clothes and still feel like yourself,” one mom attests.
Real Moms Recommend: Boob’s Fast Food Bra
The idea of a stylish nursing bra seemed like an impossibility—until one mom we chatted with stumbled upon this option from Boob. She not only loved the fit, but also the coverage offered by the larger cup. “The band features an extra-long hook-and-eye panel, so I could really stretch the life of this bra from my third trimester through when my milk came in,” she adds.