From the first moment you find out you’re pregnant, a lot of things in your world change.
Some of those are big changes that will ripple out to others in your life, and that you can plan
for in advance. Others are much smaller, and you might not even think about them until
you’re faced with them. Maternity underwear is definitely of those! With so much else going
on most women don’t even think about their underwear until they try to put a bra on one day
and release it doesn’t fit anymore. And that’s when you find yourself asking, is maternity
underwear really worth it?
What Happens To Your Breasts During Pregnancy?
At some point during your pregnancy, your breasts will start to grow and change, and once
they start they won’t really stop! Just like the size of your baby bump, when this happens is
different for everyone. Some women notice changes in their breasts as early as 6 weeks,
while others don’t see any difference until their third trimester.
But why do your breasts change during pregnancy? Mainly, due to all of the new hormones
coursing through your body, getting you ready for the baby. This causes the ducts in your
breasts to expand, preparing for breastfeeding. In fact, it’s really common to go up one or
even two cup sizes during pregnancy, and many women notice their backs get broader too,
as their rib cage expands to make room for the baby.
Given that a badly fitting bra can cause back and neck pain at the best of times, having
something that is well-fitted, soft and will stretch to accommodate your growing breasts is
more important now than ever.
Maternity Underwear Pros
The main pro of maternity underwear is the fit. Because your breasts don’t just get bigger
during pregnancy, they change shape too. Maternity underwear is designed to feel snug
without being tight and has enough stretch to grow with you without you having to buy lots of
different bras throughout your pregnancy. Plus, most are made with lightweight, breathable
fabrics, which means you’re going to be a lot more comfortable along the way!
It’s also important to remember that maternity underwear isn’t just bras. It’s also briefs and
belly belts. Maternity briefs are designed with extra material panels to accommodate a
growing bump, as well as an extra amount of stretch so they fit through the whole
pregnancy. This stops them digging in as you grow, and means you won’t be stretching out
all of your favourite pants for the future! Belly belts are an optional extra, but they can be
great for women who are carrying bigger babies or multiples, as they take some of the
weight off the stomach and ease back problems.
Maternity Underwear Cons
Of course, everything in life has negatives too, and maternity underwear is no different. One
of the main issues women encounter is feeling uncomfortable. This isn’t always just because
of the maternity bra, as pregnancy can make everything feel a bit odd! But even the softest
and stretchiest bra can feel restrictive, which is why some women opt not to wear bras at all
for chunks of their pregnancy.
They can also be quite expensive, and it can be a challenge to find any designs that don’t
fall into the ‘frumpy granny underwear’ category! While this is something the industry are
improving on, there’s a long way to go before maternity bras have the same varied selection
as regular bras do.
Pregnancy vs Postpartum
We wanted to add in a section here about postpartum because just like pregnancy, actually
having the baby changes your body as well! Immediately postpartum your breasts are going
to start producing milk. It starts as a thicker, slightly yellow milk called ‘colostrum’, which is
all your baby needs for the first few days, during this time you’ll probably find your maternity
bras fit fine and still feel comfortable.
However, when you get to around 2-4 days postpartum, you’ll notice your breasts get much
fuller and heavier as your milk comes in. This change means they will likely feel tender,
heavy and a completely different shape to what you’re used to. If you’re breastfeeding or
pumping, they will sometimes change 10+ times a day. All of which means you need a bra
that’s a bit more forgiving! Even if you’ve decided to skip maternity bras, we highly
recommend getting yourself a good nursing bra. Not only are they soft and stretchy to
accommodate all of the changes you go through, they also have clips on the straps that
connect to drop-down cups so that you can easily access them for feeds without removing
your bra completely. Nursing bras come in all sorts of shapes and styles, so you can still find
one that suits you and gives you the ease of a nursing bra.
Ultimately, choosing a maternity bra is all about making you comfortable during a big
transition period. Some women are able to wear their normal bras quite comfortably for most
of their pregnancy, while others will find themselves moving onto maternity bras by the
second trimester. Whatever option you choose, it should be right for you and your body.
Even if you keep it in the drawer for emergencies only!