So what do you need ?

Please Note: all women will have a different experience during their pregnancy, but what I have tried to outline below is a "typical" experience.  It may not fit your own personal experience exactly.

Below I have outlined the changes your body will undergo and the bras you will probably need.  Before you get into that please read the following points which give some further guidelines and principles to help you choose your bras.

1.  Band and Cup Sizing

It is really important to understand how bra sizing works, as you will be changing the size of the bras you wear.  The most important feature is that when you go up a band size the physical size of the cup also increases.  This means if you change from a 36C to a 38C the bra is a band size larger AND a cup size larger.  If you want a band size larger, with the SAME physical cup size, you would need to change from a 36C to a 38B.  Sounds strange but I can assure you it is correct.

2.  Assessing if your bra is the right size

I have created a bra size calculator to allow you to measure yourself, and assess the right sized bra.  The following guidelines may also be helpful.

3.  Bra fitting during pregnancy

The size you will need to buy, will also be different.  When I fit fashion bras, I always ensure that the band is tight (as it is designed to provide support for the breasts) and that a new bra fits tightly when on the LOOSEST set of eyelets.  This means that as the bra ages, and the fabric "relaxes" the band can be tightened maintaining the right level of support.

For your bras during the early stages of pregnancy I recommend that your bras still fit tightly (as your breasts still need support), but that a new bra should fit tightly when on its TIGHTEST set of eyelets.  This means that as your back size increases, you can move to looser sets of eyelets, preventing your bra becoming too tight, and making it last a bit longer.  This will generally mean buying a bra with a band size larger than your measurements would normally suggest.

4.  Now might be the time to try non-wired bras

I generally recommend that ladies switch to non-wired bras during pregnancy.  Underwired bras give fantastic support and nicely shape the breast.  However, the underwires, that provide most of the shaping, become a problem, as they are very "unforgiving" and do not cope well as the size and shape of the breasts change.

Non-wired bras, still give great support, but do so it a more gentle way.  As the support and shaping comes from the fabric and construction of the bra, they are better able to cope with changes in size and shape.  Most importantly, they will stay comfortable for longer.

5.  How might my size change ?

During the course of their pregnancy the majority of women will increase a full back size AND cup size.  Someone who starts as a 36D (the average UK size), will increase to a 38D at the six months, and 38DD at full term.  This is likely to increase to 38FE(or even F) shortly after birth, when breast feeding.

It is impossible for a single bra to cope with this level of change, so you need to think carefully about when you change your bras, and what size you will buy.  

Below I have tried to outline the changes your body will go through in a bit more detail, so you can decide what bras you should buy and when.  Under the images I have tried to estimate how things will change for someone starting with a 36D bra (the UK average).

Start:  36D

First Set of Maternity Bras: 38C

0-3 Months

At first there will be very little difference, and you should continue to wear your "normal" bras.  Typically at around six weeks into your pregnancy your breasts will become a little tender.

At around three months (but sometimes as early as 6-8 weeks) you will start to feel your old bras get a bit tight.  This is the time to start looking for the bras that you are going to use through your pregnancy, and potentially during breastfeeding.  Please do not delay until your bras feel uncomfortable, as the breast are more sensitive than usual, and getting the right support is vital for breast health.

Although you are unlikely to have increased by a full size, you should look for bras that are a band size larger than your normal size - but wear them on the tightest set of hooks (instead of the loosest as with your normal bras).  As your back size increases you can use the looser set of hooks to maintain comfort and support.

At roughly 3 months you should at least have bought your first pair of soft cup pregnancy bras.  Make sure you buy them a band size larger and cup size smaller than your current size (please see the guidance above).

3-6 Months

For the next three months, the back size and breast size will slowly increase, as your "bump" starts to press against your ribcage.  Your breasts will swell as the milk ducts start to develop.

At the six month point you should expect to be one back size and one cup size larger than before your pregnancy.  It is this slow, but almost inevitable growth, that makes it so difficult to fit bras during pregnancy, and why you need to look for bras that are more "forgiving" and will be able to grow with you, but still provide adequate support.

During the second trimester should be able to loosen the band of your pregnancy bras as your band size increases.  However, if the cups become a little small you will need to need to buy a pair of bras with a larger physical cup.

During the second trimester you should have bought a set of bras which are one band and one physical cup size larger than your normal sizing (eg.  38D instead of 36D)

Second Set of Maternity Bras: 38D

Full Term:  38DD

Nursing Bras: 36E

6-9 Months

For the final three months there is further growth, particularly in the size of the breasts and ,at full term, you should expect to move up another cup size.  You will probably maintain the same back size (one size larger than "normal") but this depends on lot on individual circumstances.

About a month before the birth you need to look at nursing bras.  After your birth you are likely to go down a band size (as your bump has "gone") but up a cup size as your breast swell with milk.

During the last trimester you are likely to need buy a set of bras that are another cup size larger than you were at the six month stage (this really varies from person to person - so keep checking your size on a regular basis).

In the last month of your term you should look to buy your nursing bras (if you have not already been using them).  You should look to buy them a band size SMALLER but a cup size larger than your pre-birth size.

After Delivery,

The breast size will continue to increase, as they begin to produce milk. You are likely to increase another cup size, and potentially even more.  After approximately three months, the breasts will start to reduce in size again.