Well, hi there!
Welcome to my column for Mother & Baby, The Confident Mama! I want to help every mum feel empowered and confident in the way she looks, how she dresses, her parenting decisions, and speaking up for herself.
So a little more about me – my name is Melissa and I have a 2 year old son named River. I’m an advocate for all things confidence, body neutrality and self love. This time I'm talking boobs, busting myths about breasts and bras in pregnancy and after becoming a mum...
As mums, we often put ourselves last, and certain things feel like a luxury when they’re actually pretty important- the state of our underwear drawer is one of them! Not only will great underwear leave you feeling fabulous and confident, but making sure you’re in the right size also has health benefits. So as we've just come out of Breast Cancer Awareness month I thought I’d bust some myths, and offer some expertise from Katie Weir, the Bra Whisperer herself, to arm you with all the info you need to put your boobs first!
‘You can’t wear underwires while you’re pregnant’
You absolutely can, but the bra has to fit you properly. Your boobs are going to do a lot of growing, fluctuating, and aching during pregnancy, so it’s important to get measured during pregnancy, and also know what a well fitting bra feels like, so that you can feel when it might be time to change size. You can either visit in store, or even get virtual fittings (often completely free of charge) and your boobs will thank you for it!
Katie, the Curvy Kate Bra Whisperer adds, "Agreed! Wearing an underwired bra during pregnancy is perfectly fine as long as it’s perfectly fitting which might mean you need a bra fitting more often than the usual 6 months as your breasts fluctuate! I would opt for a more flexi wire where you can, brand will often point this feature out in their descriptions, but on the whole a perfectly fitted bra with a wire which reaches right around all of the breast tissue into the armpit area is great!
I always advise going to a professional bra fitter in person for your maternity fittings as they can give you lots of advice and you can try collections on. My favourite high street bra fitting service is Bravissimo as they offer appointments and have a wide range of sizes from D-L cup I believe! If you are unable to get to a store, virtual bra fittings are offered by many one line retailers (again pick one with a wide size range as even if you don’t think you are a D cup, you probably will be now!) when you receive the bras, ensure that they feel comfortable and supportive.
You can also take bra fit quizzes online to make it a simple yet educational process – you simply have to take a look at the bra you are wearing and answer the questions step by step to get to you new size! There are four key indications that your bra is not the correct fit:
Your underwires dig into your underarm, you feel like you have a lot of spillage in the armpit area and your underwires float between your boobs instead of tacking back against the breastbone.
You see and feel spillage out the top of your bra giving a ‘quad boob’ especially when wearing clothing, your breast tissue should be encapsulated in the bra cups without any spillage.
Your back band ides up your back instead of sitting at a right angle and you can pull it more than an inch away from your body! 80% of the support from a bra comes from the back band, so you need this to sit firm with a 2-finger tension and you can only pull away an inch or so, no further!
Your bra straps should also have a 2-finger tension, they shouldn’t be able to pull up to your ears or beyond! The sliders on your standard bra should also stay to the back of your bra, if you see them coming up onto the shoulder or even on the front of the bra this is an indication that your back band is too big!"
‘A wired bra is going to cause blocked ducts and mastitis’
Much like the last point, if it fits it shouldn’t be an issue! A bra that is too tight, or where wires are digging in to the breast tissue is going to be what brings on the problems. By making sure that you put your bra on correctly, and ensure that all of the breast tissue has been pulled right into the cups so that the wires are not sitting on any breast tissue. As a visual guide, should be flat against the sternum at the front, and around in line with your armpit crease on either side.
You could also try a different style of bra, depending on comfort. I personally find the wires on a plunge more comfortable than the wires on a balcony, so it’s worth having a play with shapes.
Katie says, "I would suggest a plunge bra too as the wires sit lower at the sides and also at the centre front of the bra which means you have less coverage and less areas for the bra to dig in. A stretch top cup bra is also a great option when breast feeding as this allows for fluctuations without any digging into the top cup!
To ensure the breast is completely in the cups of the bra we always advice that you do the scoop and swoop which is a gently movement of bring the breast tissue into the cup of the bra by leaning forward and reaching one hand through the side of the cup into the armpit area and gently scooping it in the bra so that the underwires sit behind all of the breast tissue. In the same motion we then gently swoop the breast tissue upwards to ensure the fullest part of the breast sits into the middle of the cup. This will keep your breast contained in the bra and allow you to feel secure in the cups!"
‘Wearing a bra will be too painful’
Painful boobs and nipples are just one of many symptoms of pregnancy and motherhood, and it can be really uncomfortable. If you’re worried about your bra causing additional discomfort, a non-wired option could be a good alternative to a wired bra. The first trimester aches, establishing milk supply and the nipple soreness of the first few weeks of breastfeeding, and night times might be times to perhaps swerve the wires. But make sure your bra is still cup/band sized so it can still offer the right support- especially if you’re a fuller bust mama. You don’t want to add back and shoulder pain into the mix!
Katie advises, "During and after pregnancy our bodies change, fluctuate and can feel tender so of course we always look to comfort. But a supportive bra can also be comfortable and non restricting. If you are looking to go for a nursing bra or soft cup bra, you want to ensure it is still cup and back sized as having a back band which fits your frame will offer 80% of the support and lift all the weight off your shoulders. Opting for your cup size will slow the breasts to be encapsulated in the cups without any spillage boasting your confidence when you put on your outfits too as your silhouette will feel more improved!"
‘My boobs are going to look like spaniel ears forever!’
I wish I could say this was a total lie, but there is a little truth in it. Pregnancy is likely to have some effect on your boobs, whether you breastfeed or not, and each subsequent pregnancy too. Good news though! Your boobs are still great regardless. Even better? They’re still going to look epic in a good bra.
Katie continues, "Boobs sag, some of us have always had saggy boobs and other develop a more sagged look as time goes by! Embrace the new look for your bust and just know that with the correct bra style you can get your boobs back up to your collar bones! If your bust is feeling a little empty, opt for a balcony or full cup bra with side support as this will bring in all the breast tissue that you have to the centre of your body giving you a full look! Don’t forgot wearing a correctly fitted bra will improve your posture and when you stand up straight, your boobs sit higher!"
My top picks for mums
The wires on this sit quite low for a balcony so it’s one of my comfort go to bras. Also, the top
This is a super low plunge without a wire in sight, and really easy to breastfeed in if that’s the
An accidentally perfect for nursing bra, this design features boob separators that will keep them