Nursing bras: How big will I get?

In the 15 or so years that I have been selling nursing bras, two questions have remained the same: where can I find a bra big enough?, and how will I know how big I am going to get?

Finding bras large enough was one of the questions that drove me to start selling bras…larger bras were tough to find! In the usual spots (maternity or department stores), one could find the usual range of sizes, say 34B to 40DD. But what if you were a 40DD before you got pregnant?

Knowing how big someone was going to get…well the jury is still out on that one. It was pretty clear to me right away that the conventional wisdom of one band size larger and one cup size larger was pretty useless. If you bought a bra at a maternity or department store, and if you got any help, this was probably the prediction you heard.

I’m still going more on anecdotal evidence than statistical at this point, but my picture right now is this:

Band Cup
1st Trimester Not much band growth An increase in cup size may be one of your first clues you are pregnant. Some women need to buy bras right away to accommodate this growth.
2nd Trimester Begin noticing significant band growth. The baby is actually spreading your ribs. First you will run out of hooks on your current bra. If you buy a bra at this point, make sure it fits on the smallest hook; you will need to use the looser hooks over the next few months. May seem to plateau mid-way through pregnancy, but it is just that the size change is not as dramatic as it was in the beginning.
3rd Trimester Band size will continue to increase slowly all the way up until delivery, unless the baby drops noticeably. You might be able to buy some time with your current bras by using an extender. Small amount of growth.
1st 10 days after birth Your band size will begin to go down a bit and you may be able to begin to move your band to some of those smaller hooks again. Not much change for the first couple of days, but over the next few days as your milk comes in, you will get bigger than you ever thought possible! This peak will last only a couple of days and you will end up bigger than you were before delivery, but not as big as those first few days of engorgement.


What’s next?

You are headed back toward your pre-baby size…very slowly. Count on months, not weeks. The amount and pace of your weight loss will impact how fast the change comes.
Over the next 4-6 months, you will get smaller very gradually…slowly enough you probably won’t notice. Then one day you’ll think, “Wow, these bras just don’t seem to be fitting like they used to.”
Then another big question: will I go back to the size I was before the pregnancy? This question usually refers to cup size. The moms who were a B and grew to an F want to know if they’ll get back to what is normal for them.

Ask ten women their experience and you’ll get ten answers. My A-cup sister swears she was a AA by the time she finished nursing. Others have had to adjust to their new “normal,” larger cup size.

One thing is true, the shape and firmness of your breast will be different than before pregnancy. My colleague says, “You won’t get your old breasts back.” You may feel deflated and sag more than before. Some of it may be that you just got used to full breasts with milk in them, but this is reality.

Breastfeeding usually gets blamed for this transformation. It’s true, some of the milk-producing structures in your breast will go away when you don’t need them any more. But it is the pregnancy which caused these changes. Whether or not a woman breastfeeds, her body has prepared for it by creating all the mechanisms to provide milk.

How did your bra size change during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

We want to know what you think!