The best nursing and maternity bras to keep you comfy

nursing and maternity bra

by Charlotte Duck |
Updated on

A nursing and maternity bra is one of the most important purchases mothers and mums-to-be can buy, whether they're using a breast pump or not. Most women know how important the right bra can be, and that becomes even more important during pregnancy and then postpartum. The fit, support, and overall look all come into play when it comes to picking the right bra.

Your breasts will change size and shape during pregnancy and after birth, which is why purchasing a quality nursing or maternity bra is so necessary. These bras offer support, easy access for breastfeeding and are much softer than your lacy pre-pregnancy bras. They'll give you additional comfort while you get used to all the natural changes happening to your body too. They're great for daily wear before you change into your maternity sleep bra for bed.

A nursing and maternity bra should be one of your first purchases when you're pregnant, with most realising how much of a lifesaver they are. The back pain you may get during pregnancy can be made worse without a supportive bra - plus, any breastfeeding mumma will tell you how thankful they are for a nursing bra once their baby arrives. They are also brilliant if you're using a breast pump too, as you can quickly attach it as and when needed.

Editor's Choice:

Best for stretch: Bravado Restore bra
Best for quality: Cake Maternity Rock Candy Luxury Seamless Nursing Bra
Best for style: Seraphine Maternity and Nursing Bra
Best low back design: Tutti Frutti Nursing Bra

Finding a bra that will last throughout your pregnancy and assist your breastfeeding journey is definitely crucial. However, it can be a minefield, especially if you are looking for something more niche, like a plus size maternity bra. But fear not, we've found the best nursing and maternity bra for pregnancy and beyond.

The best maternity and nursing bras - UK 2023

Best for stretch

Coined as the stretchiest bra yet, Bravado's Restore bra is super soft, ultra-comfortable nursing and maternity bra that will feel less like a restrictive pull and more like a supportive hug. The contemporary, pull-on style allows for an effortlessly chic look, designed with a feminine crossover styling and wide bottom band, the knitted bra is perfect for pregnancy, nursing (thanks to pull-away cups) and beyond.

Review: "This is genuinely the comfiest bra I've ever worn, while still being really supportive. I love the range of colours, the fabric feels soft, and the design isn't frumpy at all - which I've come to expect from anything dubbed a 'maternity bra'. Really impressed!"

Pros

  • Stretchy
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Not adjustable

Best for everyday

The pink leopard-print bra is both pretty and comfortable, meaning it's great for everyday wear. The Bravado Original Nursing Bra is available in sizes S, M, L and XL and comes in white, black, grey and pink. Additionally, the cotton is super soft against your nursing boobs. It has a wide bottom band and flat, smooth racer-back for a sporty look.

Review: "2-3 weeks postpartum I purchased this bra. I wish I had been wearing this bra the whole time! It's simple, functional, comfy, and it doesn't make breastfeeding any harder than it has to be. I love that there is no padding in it since I have to put breast pads in for leaky boobs anyway. Highly recommend! Don't wait to purchase like I did."

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Soft fabric

Cons

  • Must check sizing chart

Best for quality

You won't regret splashing out on high-quality maternity underwear when the time comes, and this bra from Cake Maternity is worth every penny. Breast pads are concealed within a moisture-wicking mesh lining, a godsend during those early first days, and the bra's straps are extra soft. As well as being stylish, the seam-free cups have been designed to be pulled aside for quick access to feeding, which is essential when you've got a hungry baby on your hands. You can find this Cake Maternity Rock Candy Luxury Seamless Nursing Bra in ivory, mocha, beige and black.

Reviewed by Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert: "I thought the range of colours available in the Rock Candy Nursing bra was seriously impressive compared to other brands I’ve seen. As well as being doddle to adjust to suit your body, it’s so incredibly comfy - the soft, gentle material really does hug your body - but I know that my changing breasts are getting all the support they need."

Pros

  • Adjustable
  • High quality

Cons

  • Sizing can be off

Best for leaks

This leak-proof bra from Modibodi combines fashion with function, offering discreet protection against leaks as you go about your day. Crafted with moisture-wicking fabric and innovative leak-proof technology, it provides peace of mind for new mamas. The adjustable straps and convenient nursing clips add practicality to style, making this bra an essential companion for the journey ahead.

Reviewed by Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert: "This nursing bra has a really lovely silky feel to it and the wire-free design means it's really comfy to wear too. It's nice to feel reassured that I don't need to worry about leaks while still getting plenty of support throughout pregnancy and beyond. I'd love to see a few more colours available."

Pros

  • Leakproof cups
  • Adjustable
  • Front clips and built-in internal sling

Cons

  • Only available in two colours

Best double pack

Jelly Strip Seamless Floral Push Up Nursing Bra double back
Price: £63

uk.momcozy.com

Available in a variety of both double and single packs, these clever bras use four layers of 'jelly gel' to gently lift your breasts rather than with an uncomfy underwire while offering 360° support circling your breasts. Part of the pad is sewn in the bra, meaning it will quickly adjust back to the right place after washing.

Reviewed by Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert: "This is such a pretty set of bras with a lovely floral trim. There's a really good selection of colours on offer and they fit seamlessly under my clothes while feeling really comfy - I could happily wear this bra while I sleep."

Pros

  • Easy nursing access
  • Pretty design
  • Seamless

Cons

  • Working out sizing can be a bit confusing

Best for breathability

Figleaves FREYA Pure Flexi-wire Moulded Nursing Bra
Price: £18.20 ( Was 22.80)

www.simplybe.co.uk

Super smooth and seam-free, the Figleaves FREYA Pure Flexi-wire Moulded Nursing Bra has moulded cups made from breathable foam for shape and support to give a smooth look under clothes. It also features easy access clip adjustment. The bra also features four rows of hooks and eyes for good adjustment and flexible fit.

Review: "Have really been struggling to find a comfy and supportive bra whilst being pregnant, and being a size 34GG doesn't make it easy, but this bra made a difference as soon as I put it on. Definitely worth the money, and I will be buying more!"

Pros

  • Good adjustment for a flexible fit
  • Seamless
  • Fantastic shape under clothes

Cons

  • Hand wash only

Best for style

Seraphine founder Cecile Reinaud created this Seraphine nursing and maternity bra while breastfeeding her own son:

"I wanted to create a range that would achieve the best flattering bust shape and allow you to wear low-cut tops without showing the top of the bra," she said.

She has achieved this using a silky-smooth micro-fibre that stretches while still maintaining support; the lace trim is a pretty feminine addition. This bra also comes in black with lace trim.

Review: "Seraphine is a great brand for maternity and nursing clothing. I think they are high-quality and have cute items. I wear everything I have from them all the time and would definitely purchase more for future pregnancies."

Pros

  • Easy nursing access
  • Pretty design
  • Matching briefs available

Cons

  • Only two colour options

Best for support

It's important to stay fit and healthy while you're pregnant and breastfeeding, and this innovative Cake Maternity, Zest Nursing Sports Bra allows you to enjoy gentle exercise while looking after your boobs. Bounce is minimised thanks to flexible underwiring and a supportive shape, while its wide padded straps help disperse pressure and avoid back and shoulder pain. The bra is available in black and white.

Review: "I have tried so many nursing sports bras, but the Zest bra is the most supportive and comfortable one I've found. It looks great too!"

Pros

  • Multi-purpose
  • Great for active mums
  • Flexible underwiring

Cons

  • May not sit well under all outfits

Best for colour choices

Alternative retailers
Kohl's$49.00View offer
Macy's$49.00View offer

Available in three subtle and wearable colours, this fantastic Bravado Body Silk Seamless Sheer Nursing Bra achieves a lot for your body at once. It comes in a pretty design, plus it's super supportive, incredibly comfortable, and it's even easy to use - what more could you want from your go-to maternity bra?

Tried & Tested by Mother & Baby Commerical Content Editor, Sophie Knight, mum to Matilda: "I've found it really hard to get a comfortable nursing bra that supports my large boobs - either they're easy to use but lacking any support, or they're really supportive but uncomfortable and I end up struggling with scaffolding at feed times. This bra does it all at once and in lovely colours too. The only downside is that the inset padding is tricky to realign after washing -but that's the same with all of these types of bras, it just takes a bit of patience."

Read our full Bravado Body Silk Seamless Sheer Nursing Bra review here.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Three colour options

Cons

  • Padding is tricky to realign after washing

Best low-back design

This super-soft wire-free Tutti Frutti Nursing Bra support is made from bamboo viscose and memory foam. We love the plunging neckline with a touch of pretty lace. It has a low racer back design for medium-level support and comfort, plus adjustable hook and eye options for ribcage expansion. When your baby is here, simply use the easy-feed drop-down cups with nursing clips if you're breastfeeding.

Reviewed by Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert: “It’s not hard to see why this bra is so popular - it’s beautiful! I was genuinely amazed that it was a maternity bra. Wearing it makes me feel really confident and I love the delicate lace detailing which adds a stylish touch. I wasn’t sure how exactly it would grow with me from early pregnancy till post-birth but having seen it and how easy it is to adjust, I think this is such a great investment piece for mums.”

Pros

  • Adjustable to support growing breasts
  • Neutral colours
  • Pretty design

Cons

  • Sizing is off – order up

Best for pumping

DEX - 4-in-1 Hands Free Seamless Stretch Fabric Pumping Bra
Price: £25

uk.momcozy.com

If you're hoping to use a wireless breast pump, the DEX has longer straps, allowing for enough extension to accommodate an in-bra pump comfortably and securely. The cushioned wider straps help to reduce pressure off shoulders while pumping and the increased cup capacity allows reduced compression during in-bra pumping while retaining its shape.

Reviewed by Reviews Editor Emily Gilbert: "Although my baby hasn't arrived yet, I am planning on using a wireless breast pump so it's great to have a dedicated bra for pumping that will fit my choice of pump as well as being suitable for breastfeeding. The design is really fun and most importantly comfortable to wear too."

Pros

  • Suitable for standard flanges and wearable pumps
  • Fixed padding in cups
  • One-hand access nursing clips

Cons

  • Only one design

Are maternity bras a necessity?

Looking for the right bra can be time-consuming, but it's important to find one that's supportive, easy to undo when you're about to feed, and still gives you confidence and a good shape under your clothes. They're especially handy when thinking about what to wear in labour and beyond. We know how hard it is to feel like 'yourself' when you have a new baby, but getting the foundations right with a good bra is the first step. You can even find ones that double up as breast pump bras too.

The National Childbirth Trust advises that an ill-fitted bra can cause poor posture, back pain and neck pain, and blocked ducts which can lead to mastitis. So, it is really important to find the right bra for you.

What are the benefits of wearing a maternity bra?

Comfort – Arguably, the most important element of a maternity (or nursing) bra is making yourself comfortable. Wearing the correct bra reduces so many issues, including back pain or strain. Maternity bras are able to provide that little bit extra help when your breasts start to change.

Clips – These provide easy access for feeding time.

Breastfeeding – Nursing bras are essential for new parents who are going to try breastfeeding. Not only do they provide access when feeding or expressing, but they're big enough to fit breast pads – essential for when you're leaking excess milk. They also work well with an electric or manual breast pump.

When is best to start wearing a maternity bra?

As maternity or nursing bras are designed to handle the changing shapes of your breasts, there is no set time for starting to wear a maternity bra. When to buy a maternity bra is up to each individual. However, we recommend looking at purchasing within the first few weeks of pregnancy. This is because they begin to change shape between 8-10 weeks.

We've spent time doing some research on maternity bras so you don't have to - from pretty and feminine to seriously practical, here are the best nursing bras you can buy today. And if you are looking for something a little more racy, we have even included a pregnancy and nursing underwear that's actually sexy.

How do I pick a maternity bra?

We spoke to Felicity Savage, Associate Designer at Bravado Designs, for her tried-and-true shopping guide on maternity and nursing bras.

• There must be a stretch in the cups for your changing breast size during your pregnancy.

• Support in the band should be snug but not uncomfortable because this is where most of the support in your bra comes from. For a daytime bra, look for adjustability in the band, so it can accommodate your expanding rib cage as your tummy grows. If you're wearing a bra at night, go for a band that doesn't have hooks and eyes so that it's flat for comfortable sleep.

• Look for wider straps to help comfortably distribute the weight of your breasts.

For nursing bras specifically, stretch is important, top boxes to tick include:

• Full breast access through a drop-down or pull-away cups for essential skin-to-skin contact with your baby

• Nursing clips that you can unfasten and refasten one-handed are important for when you have a baby in your arms or if you're half asleep.

• Wide bottom band, which is where you will get most of your support.

• A non-underwire design during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, as underwires can lead to clogged milk ducts. You may also prefer a breast pump bra instead.

• Layers in the cup, such as a removable foam insert or a double layer of the fabric, provide a smooth silhouette and nipple discretion.

To determine how well your bra fits you, check for the following:

Rib band

• This should sit parallel to the floor. If the band rides up in the back, it's too big.

• You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably underneath. If you can fit more than 2 fingers, it's too loose.

Cups

• The fabric in the cup should be smooth with adequate coverage. If there is puckering or extra room, it's too big. If the top edge cuts into the breast, it's too small.

• Breast tissue should not spill out of the sides of the bra.

Straps

• If the straps are slipping off, they should be tightened, or a smaller cup size may be needed.

• The shoulder straps should anchor the bra without providing support.

• If the straps are digging in, they should be loosened, or a larger cup size may be needed.

Charlotte Duck is an award-winning journalist who's interviewed six Oscar winners, a Greek princess and a Cbeebies presenter. She's written for GLAMOUR, Vogue, Stylist and The Independent during her career, and, though she writes about beautiful children's clothes, her own two children refuse to wear them.

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