If you’re breastfeeding, you know the struggle of finding the best nursing and maternity bras that are both comfortable and functional. Here I break down the best brands and styles to try in 2021 that are suitable for larger busts, smaller busts, and everything in between. Exclusive discount codes included just for you.
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Alright mamas, I'm gonna be real for a second.
Breastfeeding is hard. Like, really hard. Like, the-hardest-part-of-my-motherhood-journey-by-far hard.
Don't get me wrong—I am so fortunate that I even have a baby to feed, and I'm so lucky I've been able to exclusively breastfeed Jackson for his first six months of life.
But breastfeeding has been a struggle and a sacrifice and it has not always been an easy journey, though it has been worth every cracked nipple, every hour spent chained to my pump, every glass of wine I've had to forfeit so I could nurse.
And while I really do cherish every single sweet moment I've had to bond with my son in the most magical of ways, breastfeeding has not always felt magical.
But this isn't a post about whether breastfeeding is worth it, or of the benefits of breastfeeding (fed is best!), or even a post about why I chose to breastfeed.
Rather, this is a post for all the moms who have already decided they are going to breastfeed and want help. This is a post about the nursing products that made my life easier on this crazy journey, the best nursing bras and clothing that allowed me to feed my baby comfortably, pump/feed in public discreetly and continue on breastfeeding in the most convenient, stylish and practical way. Here we go!
When to Buy Nursing Bras + Clothing
Quick primer: while I started wearing some nursing bras during pregnancy, my boobs changed in size significantly once my milk came in, and then again after a month or two when my body regulated a bit more.
I also found that while I was glad to have a few items in advance, so much of nursing is trial and error and figuring out what you need in the moment. There were many middle-of-the-night Amazon orders placed as I realized what kind of bra worked best when I was engorged, versus when I was working out versus when I was running errands, or what kind of shirt was easiest to feed in at home versus in public.
So moral of the story: there is no wrong time to buy nursing clothing. You do you, mama! Though I'd encourage you to have a few starter items by the third trimester.
The Best Nursing Bras 2021
- Bela Bum Bum Nursing Bras: During the early days of breastfeeding, I was often engorged for most of the day and needed a bra with lots of support and compression. This polka dot cutie did the trick–microfiber with lace trim and a shirred center, it provides great wireless support (loved the power mesh inner sling), coverage (it's got cotton lined molded cups) and versatility with an adjustable J-hook to accommodate your changing body. The cups clasp down easily, too!
- Cake Maternity Milk Bamboo Sleep Bra: At night, and when I'm just lounging around the house, I liked wearing a less structured bra like this beauty from Cake. It's seamfree with stretchy cross over cups that you can just pull to the side to feed easily when you're half asleep and can't be bothered with clasps. But it's supportive enough for engorgement during the night and has concealed moisture wicking breast pad pockets, which helps with leaking. I love that it's made from eco-friendly bamboo too, and Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 materials and accessories to ensure this garment is free from harmful substances. The mauve color is so pretty, too! Use the code CAKERR19 for 15% off Cake Maternity, valid through April 30, 2019!
- Cake Maternity Lotus Yoga & Hands Free Pumping Bra: This is one of my very favorite nursing sports bras–I'll put it on first thing in the morning because it means that I can pump hands-free with my Spectra S2, or if I'm with Jackson, it's got pull-aside cups for easy access. Made with silky soft and super stretchy Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 materials (i.e. it's free from harmful substances), it also is more seamless than a lot of other hands-free nursing bras, so it doesn't get bulky under my shirt. And yet, it's super supportive, even for high-intensity exercise. Use the code CAKERR19 for 15% off Cake Maternity, valid through April 30, 2019!
- Ollie Gray Hands-Free Anywhere Bra: If you're looking for a hands-free pumping bra that doubles as a nursing sports bra, check out Ollie Gray. I like that you get more support because it's not racerback and you can adjust the straps to your comfort level. Its clip-down cups make feeding a breeze, and it's tagless and stretchy and silky soft, so super comfortable. My only complaint is that it can get a little bulky under clothing, but the antimicrobial liner and moisture-wicking materials that fight smells and stains makes up for it! Plus, Hook & Eye Closures offer flexibility and added comfort for fluctuating breast size. I have this in black and in The Bitsy (shown) and it's definitely the prettiest nursing bra I own! Use the code rootandrevel15 for 15% off your order through 4/9/19!
- Kindred Bravely Sublime Support Bra: This is the most comfortable sports bra, though I hesitate to even call it that. While it does have a racerback style and is made of a breathable, moisture-wicking nylon/spandex blend, it's not the most supportive (read: works well for yoga but not for CrossFit). I actually wound up wearing it as an everyday bra because it was so soft, with lightly lined clip-down cups for easy breastfeeding access, a wide elastic chest band and adjustable straps. It also fits my Freemie hands-free pump perfectly (as shown in the photo above). Get 20% off all Kindred Bravely products when you shop HERE!
- Milx Nursing and Pumping Sports Bra: This sleek black sports bra is great for moms who are both nursing and pumping–moisture-wicking spandex conforms to boobs of all shapes and sizes and helps with sweat and oh-so-sexy leakage. It's a bit more supportive than some of the other nursing sports bras here thanks to the racerback design, and I find that it works great for hands-free pumping with my Spectra, or I just pull aside the cups when nursing Jackson directly. I also appreciated the adjustable band around the rib allows bra to grow and shrink as I did 😉 Use the code ROOT10 to get 10% off your purchase at Milx!
- Storq Everyday Nursing Bra: While this bra was comfy to sleep in, I think it's better suited to mamas with smaller chests, as I found even the size Large to be a bit skimpy on my DD breasts (I think their Full Cup bra would be better for me). That being said, I love the simplistic, stretchy and buttery soft design and material (modal and spandex!). It's comfy and tag-free and easily pulls aside for middle-of-the-night sleepy feeds. But it's not supportive enough to wear for much else if you're large chested. Get 10% off your purchase with the code storqxrootandrevel, valid through April 8, 2019!
- Boob Design Fast Food T-shirt Bra: This is THE everyday bra for firm support. It's seamless and lies flat and smooth under clothes, has removable pads for shape and contour, smart clips to easily nurse AND comes with hook & eye extension for size adjustment–in fact, the size can also be adjusted further with an extra hook-and-eye band supplied with every bra. And if that weren't enough, it's the perfect fit for R+R's natural minded mamas because it's made from sustainable materials like recycled polyester and polyamide and is certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, so no harmful chemicals! Use the code BOOBANDROOT15 at checkout for 15% off!
: This bra is very similar to the Boob T-Shirt Bra, though it's a tad less expensive BUT not as eco-friendly. It is certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, though. I wear this bra when I'm pumping with my Willow wireless, hands-free pump and it's perfect!
: I was obsessed with this bra while I was pregnant as it really helped conceal back fat, however it's not ideal once you're nursing because it has an underwire (it's thought that the wire could inhibit blood flow and hamper milk production and lead to a clogged duct or mastitis, though this is up for debate). That being said, I did wear this underwire bra occasionion when I was out and needed more shaping and contouring for my breasts, as the full coverage, lined cups were great, while the adjustable straps and clip down nursing feature made breastfeeding easy and convenient. I would not recommend wearing this bra while pumping, however.
The Best Nursing Clothing 2021
When it came to nursing clothing, particularly nursing tops, I found that they were very helpful during the first couple of months, but after that, I wound up just pulling up whatever shirt I was wearing.
But in those early days, when you're still trying to figure out exactly how to hold your baby and get your boob out and ready and get that elusive latch just right, you need all the help you can get.
I gravitated towards wrap-style or drape-front tops and sweaters that easily pulled aside (like the Nordstrom sweater shown above) and would often wear clip-down nursing tanks that I bulk ordered from Amazon underneath.
I also really loved Tulip-style tops(which I also ordered in bulk from Amazon) as they were 1) forgiving of my mommy pooch and 2) the lift up crossed front layer allowed for easy access to breathable nursing openings beneath, so discreet feeding was a breeze.
Here are a few of my other favorite nursing clothing items:
- Kindred Braverly Clara Criss Cross Nursing Top: This silky soft infinity cardigan fits that wrap/drape category I mentioned above, but it doesn't look like a nursing top, which I appreciated. It could be dressed up or down and the easy access openings made discreet breastfeeding easy, while the flowy, wrap design flattered my postpartum body. Perfect for layering with the Simply Sublime Nursing Tank. During the warmer Fall months, I also lived in the Amelia Nursing & Maternity Pajamas Short Set, which thanks to the pull-down top design, made nursing a cinch. Super soft, too, and no elastic bands going all the way around your chest (unlike most other pajamas). Get 20% off all Kindred Bravely products when you shop HERE!
- Cake Maternity Gelato Padded Cotton Nursing Tank: Speaking of handy clip-down nursing tanks, two of my favorites came from eco-friendly Cake Maternity. I loved this padded one for providing a bit more shape and support (and nipple coverage, let's be honest!), plus it has side rouching for postpartum tummies AND it is Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certified. For something a bit less structured, I loved their super stretchy Toffee Shaping Seamless Nursing Tank, too. Use the code CAKERR19 for 15% off Cake Maternity, valid through April 30, 2019!
- EverlyGrey Analise Blue Plaid Matching Mama + Baby Set: Yep, this same adorable and silky soft gown we brought Jackson home from the hospital in also has a matching PJ set for mom. I loved how the top had a cross-over style that could easily pull to one side for nursing, and the pants have a smocked, elastic, waistband that didn't squeeze me in all the wrong places postpartum. The robe allowed me to stay comfy all day, even if we had guests over to visit. Comes in lots of cute patterns, too! Their Brooklyn Nursing Top was also a fave!
- Pinkblush Maternity: This mama-centric brand was a fave during pregnancy (I wore their White Lace Mesh Overlay Maternity Maxi Dress for my maternity photos (shown above) and their gorgeous Light Blue Floral Delivery/Nursing Robe (shown below) in the hospital with Jackson, and for many weeks after), and postpartum!
This Burgundy Draped 3/4 Sleeve Maternity Maxi Dress (shown above) was a great special occasion dress that accommodated my growing chest and made nursing/pumping easier. I also appreciated how it cinched under the bust, which was forgiving of my postpartum pooch. Likewise, I love their Draped Nursing Maxi Dress for a lightweight, flattering summer dress that can be dressed up or down. And while I was pregnant I LIVED IN their Faux Wrap Fitted Terry Maternity Dress.Belabumbum Starlit Nursing Pajama Set + Robe
: This was hands-down my favorite nursing pajama set of the bunch–I just loved how soft everything was and how comfy, yet supportive and flattering the nursing tank was thanks to the underbust pull-up nursing access and the lace trim details and empire waist, on both the robe and the tank. They even have a matching set for baby! And tons of other color/pattern options.
- Milkmaid Goods Nursing Poncho + Carseat Cover: Easily my most used nursing item, this poncho is so versatile. I keep it on Jackson's carseat at all times, as it easily drapes down to give him some privacy while he's napping, while still allowing me to easily check on him. Then when he's ready to eat, I can throw it on to give myself some privacy when I need to breastfeed in public. The stretchy, breathable, lightweight fabric is perfect and so soft, and comes in tons of adorable patterns.
Sometimes Jackson doesn't like eating under the cover, so I also have this Kids N' Such Nursing Cover with Sewn in Burp Cloth, which provides a lot more room for him to feed and is easier for me to look in on him and ensure his latch is right.
I also wear their Buffalo plaid robe around the house all the time (it's got pockets, is super lightweight and buttery soft), and love that Jackson has the matching swaddle and hat. So cute!
- Motherhood Maternity: I also relied on this maternity and beyond mainstay for some nursing items. Some favorites included their Side Access Hooded Nursing Hoodie (it's got thumbholes and zips down the sides for easy nursing!) and their Pull Over Tulip Hem Nursing Shirt.
Alright mamas, there you have it. My favorite nursing bras, tops, pajama sets and more! What did you find to be most helpful during your breastfeeding journey? Share in the comments below!