The best bras for pregnancy, according to a lingerie expert

Chic and comfortable

pregnancy bras
(Image credit: Instagram/@nlmarilyn/@hannahcrosskey/@pennygoldstone)

Having a well fitting bra is important throughout your life, but especially so when you are pregnant, a time when your body changes daily. Which is why we asked Susana Lorena, founder of lingerie store Maison SL, to share her tips on finding the best bras for pregnancy and beyond (and don't forget to check out our guide for choosing the right bra size).

When should pregnant women start thinking about their bras?

I usually see women at 6 to 18 weeks for the first time and then they tend to come a couple weeks before they give birth and we will choose the nursing bras. You can choose between a padded or a non-padded nursing bra. We have a very soft modal and a lace version that allows you to wear nursing pads when you’re breastfeeding to protect your nipples.

The most important thing when you are pregnant or after giving birth is to get re-fitted once you feel that changes have occurred. Your comfort depends on it.

When is the right time to start wearing a maternity/nursing bra?

It is the first question I get asked and the answer is it all depends on how quickly your body changes. This varies from woman to woman but you generally find that by 16 to 18 weeks you are going to feel much more comfortable wearing a maternity bra. It’s very important as your breasts change that you don’t put too much pressure on them by wearing an ill-fitting bra, otherwise you risk causing problems when you to come to breast feeding with the flow and supply of milk.

Should I wear a wired bra or a non-wired bra if I’m pregnant?

It is fine to wear a wired bra when you are pregnant. It is perfectly safe and it will give you lots of support. The downside is you will need to keep changing bra size as your breasts get bigger. That gets expensive if you’re having to buy new bras so the majority of women tend to wear non-wired bras during pregnancy.

You can also start wearing nursing bras in the later stages of pregnancy. They are very supportive garments for the breasts and when you start breastfeeding, they have a latch you can easily open to expose your nipple and breastfeed the baby. The brand I recommend for comfort and affordability is Cosabella which does versions in modal and lace.

If you’re finding it uncomfortable sleeping in later stages of pregnancy, some women find wearing a crop top is a good solution to hold you in place in bed.

How often should I wash my bras when I’m breastfeeding?

I’m asked this a lot. When breastfeeding you should wash your bra whenever it gets stained. That is going to happen a lot from the milk so in practice you should be washing your bra at least every day. This is really important for the baby but for you too. You need to keep nursing bras very very clean to help avoid getting sore nipples and conditions like skin rashes, mastitis or thrush.

How many maternity or nursing bras do I need?

I recommend having a minimum of three bras - one to wear, one to wash and one to rest. I usually suggest clients have a black, a nude and then maybe a colour for when you are in a mood for something a bit more fun. Three bras should generally take you through the nursing period. If you breastfeed for over a year, you will want to double check they are still fitting properly and giving you the support you need. You might have changed size by the time you are on your second year of breastfeeding so my advice is to get new ones.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.