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Is it OK to wear an underwire maternity or nursing bra?

We’re often asked which is the best maternity bra? The traditional answer is a soft bra i.e. one without an underwire. But is this really true? And why are underwires so bad during pregnancy?

Lets answer the last question first……Underwires seem to be billed as the very worst type of bra to wear to wear when you are pregnant. But as bra fitter who has specialised in maternity and nursing fitting I don’t believe this is the case, and I certainly can’t find any scientific/medical evidence to back up this prejudice against underwires. It’s all about your comfort….so read on………………

A well fitted underwire bra should be comfortable, shouldn’t cut in under the arms or dig in below the breasts . The trouble, of course, is that the majority of women aren’t wearing a bra that fits correctly anyway. Maybe they weren’t fitted for a bra to begin with, or maybe they were but the bra is old and the fit has slackened, maybe they’ve gained or lost weight since they bought it. Whatever the reason, lots of us, including myself, put up with wearing bras that are just a bit wrong for us .

Normally this doesn’t really matter and applies to shoes, jeans ,and everything else in our wardrobes – but when you fall pregnant all bets are off. This isn’t because you suddenly can’t take the pain of a nagging underwire bra anymore , it’s because after just a few weeks, everything about your figure starts to change. Some women find that almost immediately their ribcage starts to expand, meaning they can’t fasten the band on their bra comfortably anymore. Next, and to the delight of your partner, your cup size will certainly start to increase . Some of us revel in this for a while, but here-in lies the problem with underwire bras. Even if they fitted you before you were pregnant they won’t fit properly as you start to grow and they’ll start to dig in, most noticeably in the delicate flesh under your arms.

As your ribcage and cup increases, it could go from uncomfortable to agonising pretty quickly. All this time the wires are digging into your breast tissue, and although there’s absolutely no scientific evidence I can find that they cause any serious problems, no-one likes to be in torment all day, constantly adjusting a bra, and double boobing over the top of the cups.

Basically you need to buy a new underwire bra each time your current one is too small and you could change up to 2 back sizes and 1-2 cup sizes. Imagine going from a 32B to a 36D! Also, if you are anything like me, you can find that once your bump starts to grow it pushes the wire up under your breast and causes even more discomfort – in my own pregnancy, at 6 months my boobs were becoming very sensitive and wearing my underwire was virtual torture – this when I gave up and went soft.

So what are the advantage of buying a soft bra? Soft bras have the big advantage of being much more flexible in their fit, even more so now that we have a new generation of ‘seamless’ maternity and nursing bras, some of which can stretch from a B to F cup size, and specialised maternity bra often have a much longer row of hooks allowing for lots of adjustment around your rib cage. This almost certainly means only buying one size of maternity bra throughout your whole pregnancy. In addition, most of the bras we sell today are now “dual purpose” , meaning the same bra could also fit you for breast-feeding. All in all this will save you money over buying bigger and bigger underwires as you go through your pregnancy and then purchasing a nursing bra for breastfeeding later.

There is a compromise though, the last couple of years have seen the new type of underwire bras designed for maternity and nursing, and they have proved to be extremely popular. Styles like the Bravado Bliss bra with it’s ‘flexichannel’ support, and the Bravado Allure Bra with it’s soft underwire, have taken the maternity and nursing market by storm and now sell as well as the soft non-wired bras. These bras have dual sizing so the cup sizes are much more flexible, are also suitable for nursing with lie-flat clips and can even be converted to normal bras after you finish breast-feeding.

So, the moral of my story is this : there’s no best maternity bra, there’s only the one that fits you properly and that works for you. The last and most important thing – always get a bra fitter to help you check you are wearing the right size (or e-mail us at and we can help you too).