The first thing to note about being pregnant is that every woman is different, but one thing you can be sure of is your breasts will grow (maybe lots!) during pregnancy. How much they grow and at what rate will depend on your body, but it's common to increase at least 2 cup sizes, starting from around 6-8 weeks.
During this time the breast flesh and nipples can become sensitive and often itchy as the hormones in your body are changing. As the milk ducts start filling with milk this can make the skin stretch, leading to a sensitivity of both the skin and the nipples.
During early pregnancy wearing a supportive bra can do wonders for your levels of comfort. In our opinion, it's fine to wear an underwire bra during your 1st and 2nd trimesters, providing the underwires are sitting correctly and away from the breast flesh (important even if you're not pregnant). Look for a bra that offers good support in both the cup and the shoulder strap - a wider shoulder strap will offer more comfort as it distributes the weight of the breast flesh.
By your 3rd trimester, it's time to move on to a non-wire bra. It's important to make sure there are no pressure points on your boobs as this can be a cause of Lactation Mastitis - ouch!
Now for the fun part - picking a Maternity Bra. Look for a maternity bra made with good fabrics and elastics. Taking into account the sensitivity of the breast flesh, a maternity bra should have covered seams to prevent irritation. It should have more hooks and eyes that a normal bra to allow for the diaphragm to expand during pregnancy. It should also have drop-down cups with more stretch ib the top to allow for the fluctuation in breast size during the day. The drop-down cup should come down far enough to allow the whole of the baby's face to get to the nipple without being caught up in the cup. Babies breathe through their nose so we need to make sure that the whole of their face is free of the cup.
The frame holding the rest of the bra up whilst the cup is dropped down should be strong enough but flexible enough to allow the breast flesh to expand but not cut into the flesh. The clip needs to be easily done up with one hand. You become super dexterous with a baby and can do so many more things one-handed!
We highly recommend professional bra fittings. It's the best way to determine your size and will ensure you are the most comfortable during your pregnancy and beyond. Our team of Bra Gurus are always on hand for help - pop in and see us at our Outlet Store/Fit Studio in Drury, Auckland. Fittings are free and we have lovely new dressing rooms with heating in the winter! Or if you can't pop in to see us, send our Bra Gurus an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.