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How many nursing bras do I need?

When you’re busy picking out cute outfits for your baby’s wardrobe it can be easy to forget you will need wardrobe essentials for yourself! 

Nursing bras are top of that list if you plan to breastfeed – and even if you don’t you’ll find these comfy bras handy for pregnancy and the early weeks. 

Mum nursing baby wearing a nursing bra

There are so many things to think about when it comes to getting ready for baby. 

Along with the practicalities of caring for your baby, newborn essentials are probably top of your list, alongside getting your house ready for baby. 

As part of your prep you may be asking yourself “how many nursing bras do I need”, which is understandable if this is your first baby and you’re a breastfeeding beginner

We’re going to take a look at exactly how many you need to buy, plus a few tips to help with your shopping.

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How many nursing bras to buy 

As a rough guide you will need three nursing bras – so that you can wear one, have one in the wash and one on standby at all times. 

Having said this you will find many brands sell them in packs of two. 

If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby exclusively then it is absolutely fine to have four and you certainly won’t feel like you have wasted your money. 

In the early weeks particularly you may find yourself going through lots of outfit changes as your milk comes in and you get to grips with using muslins to protect your clothes from spit-up. 

So having spares handy is definitely advisable! 

You may also like: Printable newborn essentials checklist

What is a nursing bra?

Maybe you have a rough idea of what a nursing bra is, or you’re still unsure of exactly what one is, you just know it’s on all those new parent essentials lists! 

A nursing bra is specifically designed for comfort and easy access when breastfeeding your baby. 

Woman wearing a white nursing bra

Most include handy clips on both straps which you can use to pull down the cups of the bra, giving access for feeding your baby. 

They are most definitely a newborn baby essential for breastfeeding mothers, because trying to pull down straps and squeeze into padded bras just is not something you will want to be dealing with! 

In the early days after giving birth, whether you are breastfeeding or not your breast milk will come  in and padded, underwire won’t prove particularly comfortable at this stage. 

So having a nursing bra can be really useful simply to wear as a comfortable, supportive bra, even if you are not nursing your baby. 

What’s the difference between a nursing bra and maternity bra?

The key difference is a nursing bra features clips that can be unfastened so the cups flip down and expose your breasts for nursing. Maternity bras do not have this feature. 

Both are made from soft, flexible material with extra support. They are both all about comfort for you at a time when your breasts may be uncomfortable in conventional padded bras. 

Should you buy nursing bras or maternity bras when pregnant?

I personally recommend buying nursing bras when pregnant unless you are absolutely convinced you will not breastfeed your baby. 

There is little price difference, however a nursing bra is appropriate for both breastfeeding and wearing during pregnancy. 

By going straight for nursing bras in pregnancy you will save yourself having to buy additional bras once your baby is born. 

Do I actually need nursing bras?

Nursing bras make breastfeeding your baby so much easier, but they are also so much more comfortable than a padded, underwire bra.

If you are not planning to breastfeed your baby then a simple sports bra will do a similar job, so they are not necessarily a total baby essential.

But because they are designed for quick and easy one-handed access to allow you to pull the cups down without trying to pull down straps they are absolutely a breastfeeding essential.

In addition to nursing bras I would also suggest you not forget to buy breast pads. These are absorbent pads that stick to the inside of your bra and soak up any milk leaks.

Your breasts will leak from time to time, including overnight especially if your baby starts to sleep for longer than before.

You will also find both breasts “letdown” and release milk when your baby is feeding, so to save your nursing bras from being soaked you should absolutely stock up on breast pads before baby’s due date.

When to buy nursing bras?

You can buy nursing bras during pregnancy as soon as your regular bras start to feel uncomfortable or tight. 

As nursing bras are supportive but stretchy and soft, so they don’t cause discomfort if you are engorged with milk, you can wear them during pregnancy. 

You may find underwire bras uncomfortable during pregnancy as your body changes to accommodate your growing baby.

If you’re finding your underwire bras uncomfortable during pregnancy then it’s well worth buying your nursing bras now, and then you get extra wear out of them. 

How many nursing bras for the hospital?

When packing your hospital bag it’s best to wear one nursing bra and pack one spare. 

This is just in case you end up staying at least one night. 

Having one spare bra is always a good idea in case your baby spits up or you feel the need to put on a fresh bra after the birth. 

Different types of nursing bras

There are lots of different styles of nursing bras – as you would find with regular bras! 

Some will have straps that crossover at the back, some look meatier than others with lots more support built in and thicker straps and some look a lot like a normal bra. 

In addition you can get nursing bras that will help you to pump milk handsfree. These are great as you can pump milk while getting other stuff done around the house.

There’s also a variety of colours and patterns, so you’re bound to find something you love. 

You may decide to get a selection of different types, depending on whether you want to wear the bra with particular outfits or when sleeping. 

You could also consider getting a nursing tank top that has built-in support. 

Here are my top picks for the best nursing bras. 

Nursing Bras Top Picks

Final thoughts on nursing bras 

Nursing bras are definitely a baby essential you won’t want to skip, especially if you are planning to breastfeed.

Be reassured that if you do not continue to breastfeed for long after your baby is born that you will still find nursing bras comfy to wear in the weeks after birth as your body recovers.

For this reason I recommend buying at least three nursing bras during your pregnancy once your normal bras become uncomfortable.

If you need more tips for getting ready for baby I have a whole article featuring an ultimate pregnancy to-do-list.

How many nursing bras do I need?

Vicky Smith is a mother of two daughters and a journalist. She has been writing and vlogging about parenting for over five years.