Let’s talk pregnancy bras. During pregnancy, hormones cause changes in the breast tissue, which make the breasts swollen, sore and extra sensitive to touch. It can be painful.
Bras that fit well pre-pregnancy become quite uncomfortable to wear during pregnancy due to the added sensitivity, growing breast tissue and the expanding ribs:
- Bras with underwires, that provide the best support for larger breasts, are especially painful to wear because the wire is now smaller than the growing root of the breast.
- Many women experience internal pressure around the rib cage, which expands (because the ligaments soften) to accomodate the organs in compression and the expanding uterus, and external pressure from the bottom band elastic, which provides support for the cups. Physically, these counteracting pressures likely lead to discomfort around the rib cage.
What can I do to ease breast pain and discomfort?
The amount of discomfort usually varies during the day. If you are a full busted woman, your best bet is to find at least a couple of good, supportive bras (which can be quite difficult).
In my case, I experienced quite a bit of breast tenderness and rib pain around the bra band during the first and second trimester. There were a few things I did to alleviate some of the discomfort:
- Having a bra extension can help. You can change the length of the bra band by adding the extension.
- You can also carry a different type of bra, like a sports bra or a bralette, and change it when you feel discomfort.
- Some people recommend to wear a “soft and breathable fabric belt” or some sort of “cushion” below the bra band to more evenly distribute the external pressure from the band.
If the pain is too intense, some people need the intervention of a physical therapist and sometimes need to wear orthopaedic braces. Rib pain will usually go away once the baby drops towards the cervix in preparation for birth; in my case most of the discomfort disappeared during the third trimester.
With all these body changes happening, I was in need of bigger bras with good support, and with little energy to sew my own…
Trying to find a comfortable bra with no underwires in ready to wear (RTW) has been a FREAKING NIGHTMARE!! I found a couple of bras that fitted reasonably well when I first tried them on, but because the cups were made out of jersey, they lost the support after an hour or so.
Pattern, sizing and materials:
I was left with no other option than making my own, so I decided to use the EZI SEW nursing bra as my starting point. I originally thought this bra was designed by Bra-makers Supplies, but after working with the pattern, I found that it is not as well drafted as their other bras.
I found a review for this pattern in Pattern Review in case you want to read more about it.
I chose to start with a 24- E according to my measurements. Inspired by Erin, I constructed my bra using the 15 denier in nude color (with a little bit of mechanical stretch), the powernet, and the findings from the pretty pink and black bra kit from the TheEmeraldStudio. I also used 3/4″ nursing clips from Bra-makers Supplies.
Here’s the bra:
This is how this bra (right) compares to the best RTW (left) I was able to find:
Likeable & Dislikeable features:
I like several features of this bra.
- As it is, it is by far the bra I have been wearing the most during pregnancy and the one that provides most comfort.
- I like that the cups are non-stretch, but do have a bit of mechanical give. They provide more breast support compared to the RTW options I found.
- I feel like the nursing clips enable extra space to let the breasts to grow and/or swell when they need to.
- Wireless to prevent strain around the root of the breast.
- Wide (5/8″), firm elastic for the straps and the bottom band to provide support.
- Good firm power net at the back band.
The features I dislike:
- The cups are drafted a bit small and there is gaping between my breasts at the center bra band, where the band should be touching the chest (I’m not even sure that that is possible to achieve for bras without underwires).
- My breast apex (marked roughly by the center of the pads) is approximately 2″ above the apex line, so that needs to be changed.
- The instructions for the pattern are not written in detail, so prior knowledge of bra construction is required.
- Pattern markings are off in certain areas and more of them would be useful to make the construction and fitting easier.
In my next version, I will try trace a 24F size and split the lower cup. Hopefully that will improve the fit.
What do you think? Do you have any advice? Have you tried any pregnancy/nursing bra patterns before?
That’s it for today!
Have a great Easter weekend!
Other notes and thoughts on my dream pregnancy and nursing bra:
From a design prespective, the following bra design features would impact the pregnancy and nursing wearing comfort in a positive way (what I would like to design for myself and/or what I would have liked to find):
- Thin full band bra with a gothic arch to allow the belly to grow comfortably as far up as it needs, while still providing support to the cups.
- Cups made out of a fabric with low mechanical stretch, to provide breast support, but without compressing.
- Cups with movable joints (with nursing clips) so the breasts have enough space to grow and swell
- Power bar that surrounds and supports the bottom and the side of the cups and grows onto the straps
- No underwires
- Wide straps and cups made out of non-stretchy material to provide enough support
- Wide (5/8″), firm elastic with no picot edge for the back straps and the bottom band.
- Good firm power net possibly doubled at the back band.