How Many Nursing Bras Do I Need?

New moms often wonder: how many nursing bras do I need? They can be expensive and there are several different types, so it can get confusing when you’re considering how many to buy. The answer often comes down to two factors: how often you’re comfortable with doing laundry, and the different styles and colors in your wardrobe.

You’ll probably want at least three nursing bras as a minimum. One to wear, one to wash, and one spare. However, if you can afford a few more I highly recommend purchasing four or five. 

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How to decide how many nursing bras to buy:

Deciding how many nursing bras to buy may come down to a few factors like how often your household does laundry, your wardrobe colors, and what nursing bra styles you need. Let’s take a look at all of these factors.

Wardrobe colors

For example, if you’re wearing mostly black shirts, consider buying at least two black nursing bras

Laundry frequency

When your baby is small, they may spit up frequently. Also, nursing bras often get covered in milk during nursing and pumping sessions. If you’re not comfortable with doing laundry every day, purchase more than three. 

Nursing bra style:

  • Standard nursing bra
  • Nursing bra for sleep
    • Some moms wear a soft comfortable nursing bra with no underwires or padding to bed for the first few months so they can wear nursing pads and avoid leaking in bed. Here’s an example of a nursing sleep bra.
  • Cami-style nursing top
    • You may also like some cami style nursing tops to wear in the summer instead of a nursing bra, or under your other clothes in the winter. These are some cami-style nursing shirts I personally tried and recommend. 
  • Nursing sports bra
    • Do you need a sports bra that can accommodate nursing? Look for a nursing sports bra that crosses in the back for extra support like these nursing sports bras.

When do you buy nursing bras?

During your third trimester near the end of your pregnancy, it’s usually safe to buy nursing bras you’ll be able to use for the coming year. My advice is to buy one or two of them and then once your baby is born and you have a better idea of the size you’ll need, purchase more. Instead of buying maternity bras or another regular bra in a bigger size, you may as well purchase a good nursing bra you’ll be able to use in the first few weeks postpartum as well.

Over the course of your pregnancy and postpartum journey your breast size and shape will fluctuate a lot. Many women find that in their third trimester, their previous bras stop fitting for a number of reasons like: rib cage expansion, swelling, and breast tissue growth. Your size is going to continue to change for the first few months after delivery too. 

I would advise against purchasing a nursing bra in your first trimester since you may end up needing a different size.

Whats the difference between a nursing bra and a pumping bra?

Although you can use a regular nursing bra to pump in because the cups come down for access, pumping bras are made specifically to allow you to pump hands-free. 

If you’re using a nursing bra while pumping, you’ll have to hold the breast pump flanges of your breast pump to your chest. This means your hands are busy during your pumping session. 

If you purchase a pumping bra, the bra is designed to hold the flanges to your chest for you and allow you to have your hands free during your pumping time. 

How many pumping bras do I need?

I highly recommend getting two pumping bras for anyone who plans to do a lot of pumping. One to use and one to wash is usually enough if you’re careful to remove your pumping gear without spilling most of the time.

You may not need any pumping bras if you’re using wearable pumps instead of a pump with flanges. Breast pumps like Medela and Spectra are renowned for their pump strength but use flanges. Other pumps like Elvie and Momcozy are discrete and hands-free.

What is the best nursing bra?

Look for something that has no underwire – they can contribute to problems like mastitis by putting pressure on your breast tissue. The best nursing bras will have drop-down cups for easy access, good support, soft fabric, and adjustable straps.

Some of the best bras for nursing have removable foam cups. Many women choose to remove the foam while they are using nursing pads and when they are using these bras overnight. 

I would recommend something like these Mom Cozy nursing bras to start out with. This is a seamless nursing bra made from breathable fabrics designed to give you maximum comfort.

These Medela nursing bras for sleep are also great quality. Plus, they’re a great option for home use when you’re not planning on going out.

Motherhood Maternity makes some of the best options for nursing tank tops like these.

Final thoughts on nursing bras

Your best bet is to purchase one or two nursing bras in your third trimester and then wait to see how your body shape changes after delivery, before purchasing more. It’s a good idea to wait until after your milk supply comes in to purchase the majority of your nursing bras.

You may find that a minimum of three nursing bras is enough for you if you’re on a tight budget, but a lot of women are more comfortable with 5 of them based on how much laundry you’re doing and what you’re using them for (daytime or overnight use).

If you find you’re getting shoulder and upper back pain from nursing, check out this next article on breastfeeding stretches you can use! Breastfeeding is a tough job, you’re doing great Mama!

For more articles on motherhood, check these out from Mama’s Buzz!

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