How to measure yourself for maternity bras

Black floral bra from Hot Milk - Why shouldn't you still be able to get fashionable or sexy lingerie during pregnancy?

Black floral bra from Hot Milk – Why shouldn’t you still be able to get fashionable or sexy lingerie during pregnancy?

So lets talk maternity bras… something that every pregnant woman has to contend with that can be a big worry for some, especially if you don’t know the ins and outs, or are a bit shy about getting fitted yourself.

Maternity Bras: Why can’t I just use my normal bra?

Well, if you think about it logically you don’t usually wear your normal clothes during pregnancy, you wear maternity clothes, so you don’t wear your normal bras either. You need additional support, and a band that will accommodate your expanding diaphragm and changing body.

Also another really important thing to remember is that underwired bras are bad for you when you are pregnant or feeding, especially if you intend to breastfeed as the wire can damage the soft breast tissue of your milk ducts, hence the reason you need a soft non wire bra. Not only are they bad for milk production, but they are also really uncomfortable!

When do I get measured?

Truth is, you will need to be measured several times within your pregnancy, once during each trimester (first at around 12 weeks), and then at 38+ weeks for your nursing bra. The reason for this is that your body will change and need different supports at different times – I’m not suggesting you will definitely need a new bra each measurement but you just might, so be prepared to spend a fair amount on lingerie at this stage in your life!

How do the measurements work?

Well, during my bra fitting training, this is how I was taught to measure a bust:

Take the tape measure and place it under the bust (reading should be taken in inches, and it is best to keep your bra on when you do your measurement) measure around the under bust to get your bandwidth – bandwidth is what offers the support to your breasts and will help to take the pressure of your back, neck and shoulders so it is really important to get it right. Once you have your measurement in inches you add 5 to the number if it is an odd number (so measuring 31inches under bust would make you a 36″ bandwidth) or add 4 if it is an even number (so again 32inches under bust will make you a 36″ bandwidth).

From there you will need to measure across the nipple line to give yourself the cup measurement. Now, the difference between your bandwidth and your nipple line measurement in inches determines your cup size. So for example: if you have measured, following the instructions above, as a 36inch bust and you measure yourself at 38 inches around the nipple line, you have a difference of 2 inches. So we go from 0 to 7 in standard fittings and the scale is as follows:

  • 0 = A
  • 1 = B
  • 2 = C
  • 3 = D
  • 4 = DD
  • 5 = E
  • 6 = F
  • 7 = GG

So with the above example, an inch difference of 2 would make you a C cup, so the bra size would be a 36C.

Now, this is a fitting guide, but as with all clothing, bras need to be tried on as every 36C or whatever will be different to the last, because, well like everything in pregnancy, it can’t just be easy!

Again, Hot milk, slightly more demure, but still pretty and stylish, no more what your size.

Again, Hot milk, slightly more demure, but still pretty and stylish, no matter what your size.

One of my favourite maternity bra brands is Bravado, unlike a lot of brands some of their bras will grow with you to a certain degree which means you may well get away with one bra from your first trimester to your third. I am currently STILL wearing their nursing bras and I love them, intact I may never go back to those pre-baby Victoria’s Secret bras because they seem to land me back in the maternity bras every time πŸ˜‰

Did you have any positive experiences with maternity lingerie? Are you shy of being fitted?

Harriet x

37 Comments

  1. December 19, 2016 / 6:02 am

    In the time of my pregnancy, I thought I can use my normal size of bras, but after 3 months of being pregnant, I just realized that it was not fitted at all and I need to buy new bras for my maternity needs. Wearing comfortable bras while pregnant is essential because it may cause discomfort if you are not detailed in choosing it. My bra cup size is just 36, but when I became pregnant, it became 38. After my birth, I need also to buy again another nursing bras for an easy nursing for my baby breastfeeding. My favorite nursing bra is A Pea In The Pod Seamless Full-Coverage Clip-Down Nursing Bra. It has clip down nursing access that is just easy for my baby to feed.

  2. April 22, 2016 / 9:20 am

    Oh it is so important to wear the right bra especially when pregnant and or breastfeeding. Great advice x

  3. April 17, 2016 / 10:50 pm

    I had my bra fitted in the first trimester when my boobs got obviously bigger. She measured me exactly the same as I was before I was pregnant. I haven’t bothered being measured again. I’m just wearing the same maternity/nursing bras I did when I was pregnant with Lamb, they fit ok x

  4. April 14, 2016 / 11:06 pm

    I’ve always had myself measure during each pregnancy to make sure I had the right bra.

  5. April 13, 2016 / 1:54 pm

    I haven’t been fitted and don’t particularly want to be! I do wish I hadn’t bought a load of underwired nursing bras though – they’re extremely uncomfortable! x

  6. April 13, 2016 / 12:30 am

    This is such a useful guide! It is tricky to know when the best time to get one is

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:39 am

      First measurement should be at 12 weeks really – we used to say after your first scan πŸ™‚

  7. April 12, 2016 / 10:43 pm

    This would have been useful for me a couple of months ago! Not planning on having anymore babies (sob) anytime soon though x

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:40 am

      Haha bless you Fi!

  8. April 12, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    These are some really good pointers. I remember experiencing changes very early on.

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:40 am

      It’s so strange how quickly it happens right?!

  9. April 12, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    This is a really informative post. The whole bra measuring thing is a minefield of conflicting data. And battling with your body changing. Thatnks for sharing these tips and those bras are sexy!!

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:48 am

      They are aren’t they Leanne?!

  10. April 12, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    I never would have thought about the point you make about not wearing normal clothes, so why would you a bra x

  11. April 12, 2016 / 8:07 pm

    Really useful post – bought so many bras during pregnancy and since. My size went up and up (and up) then back down, although I never seemed to quite end up on the same size as before, so I always had to replace the sizes. I seem to have plateau-ed about two years after she was born. I went to Bravissimo every time as they were brilliant (I still do) but I loved Bravado as well.

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:50 am

      I’ve not had an experience with Bravissimo but I do love Bravado πŸ™‚

  12. April 12, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    I have never been pregnant but it is a good idea to get a proper fitting to make sure that the mother feels as comfortable as possible. I need to get mine checked.

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:50 am

      You can do them yourself now!

  13. April 12, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    This is so useful, thank you for writing it! I had been wearing the wrong bra size earlier on in my pregnancy and it led to the worst backache! I’ll check out Bravado, I need a new bra now I’m in the third trimester xx

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:50 am

      Oh absolutely – Bravado are the best! H x

  14. April 12, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    This is a really interesting post – I have to admit I’ve not been measured properly for any kind of bra in forever. x

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:51 am

      I hadn’t until I was pregnant either!

  15. April 12, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    I have never been measured! I am to nervous haha. This is a great informative post

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:52 am

      You can do it yourself now πŸ™‚

  16. April 12, 2016 / 3:10 pm

    This is a great post! This is the kind of thing you forget about when you fall pregnant.

  17. April 12, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    I was measured and fitted with my last pregnancy – I went to Mothercare and they were really good. It is very important to have the right size – my boobs went enormous!! Kaz

  18. April 12, 2016 / 2:12 pm

    I was terrible with both my pregnancies and didn’t get myself measured! I really need to get measured now, as after breast feeding both my girls they are not what they were πŸ˜‰ x

  19. April 12, 2016 / 12:34 pm

    Thanks for this – really useful info. While I was pregnant I had no idea about not wearing underwired bras – I just carried on wearing my normal bras. I can’t say I noticed them being at all uncomfortable, but it was only after giving birth that I realised you’re meant to wear maternity bras – whoops!

  20. April 12, 2016 / 11:41 am

    I can’t say I have any experience of this as I don’t have kids (and am not pregnant) but it must be tough because I struggle enough now to get a well fitted bra x

  21. April 12, 2016 / 10:24 am

    I used to be shy about being fitted. But had been fitted once by a lovely middle aged woman at M&S and was really impressed with her service. She measured me and patiently looked for bra styles that I might want. I’d gladly do it again with this kind of service πŸ˜‰

  22. April 12, 2016 / 10:07 am

    I love my bravado nursing bra. It’s so comfy. I don’t mind being fitted but I hate the fact that you can go to a few places and be a different size in all of them. X

  23. April 12, 2016 / 9:56 am

    This is some great advice. I use to go into mother care and have myself measured there during my pregnancy and then at 38 weeks for my nursing bra.

  24. April 12, 2016 / 9:45 am

    The first time I ever got fitted for a bra was when I was pregnant as I had read it can cause lots of issues if you wore under wiring or the wrong size bra. I did wait until I was starting to get a bump before switching though. They are unbelievably comfortable and I really hate wearing normal bras now haha This is great advice for anyone who would rather do it themselves.

  25. April 12, 2016 / 9:17 am

    Ah Harriet, I can’t even measure myself for normal bras, yet alone worrying about how I’ll do it when I’m pregnant!!! This remind me though, I need to get new bras πŸ™‚

  26. April 12, 2016 / 7:50 am

    I live in nursing bras as they’re soooo comfy! I actually had a bra fitting on Saturday as I’m working with Debenhams over the next few months and was amazed that I’ve gone up a cup size. I thought I’d hone down as my boobs are so soft now. So I’ve been wearing the wrong bra for about 3 years, oops!x

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