skip to main content
Best Nursing Bras, According to the Experts and Real Moms
Updated on
March 25, 2024

Best Nursing Bras, According to the Experts and Real Moms

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
Pinterest logo.
Best Nursing Bras, According to the Experts and Real Moms.
Best Nursing Bras, According to the Experts and Real Moms

When you’re nursing, your breasts will take on a life of their own. Haven’t fed your little one in a while? You’ll notice they’re swollen and rock-hard. Just finished nursing? They’ll become smaller and soft again. Nursing bras are designed to deal with the literal ups and downs of breastfeeding, with comfortable and stretchy fabric, and provide easy access for feeding sessions with pull-down clasps or push-aside cups.

We talked to a lactation consultant, an OB-GYN, a mom with 40 months of breastfeeding under her belt and Babylist staffers to find the most comfortable, well-fitted, and most importantly, convenient nursing bras for breastfeeding or pumping.

How to Choose a Nursing Bra

Like regular bras, nursing bras come in a few different styles, and which one you pick is a matter of personal preference. You can choose from underwire or wireless, lined or unlined, and shaped cups or seamless. Dr. Franziska Haydanek, OB-GYN and mom of three, says that considering your lifestyle is also something to keep in mind before choosing one bra over another. Instead of choosing a separate bra for different areas of your life—like one for lounging at home, one to wear under professional clothing and one to wear when you’re sleeping—Dr. Haydanek suggests choosing one or two that can work across the spectrum of your nursing journey.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the fit of your bra is critical, Kristin Krahl, Certified Lactation Consultant and mom tells us.

“Choosing a bra that is too structured can apply unnecessary pressure to our breasts not allowing them to expand comfortably, and can absolutely cause us pain and potential issues,” Krahl says.

Additionally, Cinthia Scott, RD, IBCLC, says that ill-fitting bras “can lead to clogged ducts or mastitis,” so you should always prioritize comfort and a proper fit.

While figuring out your size will vary depending on the brand, bra style, and material, Dr. Haydanek says that you can start with your normal bra size and, since your ribcage expands during pregnancy, “people will probably notice that they need to go up with a band size from before and that bras that typically fit around their ribcage before may not fit anymore just because of that expansion.”

Many nursing bras are made from thin, stretchy material that is designed to accommodate any size fluctuation so there is some wiggle room when it comes to cup sizing. And if you’re throwing pumping in the mix, there are also specialty nursing bras that can pair with the flanges of your pump for hands-free pumping sessions.

Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best Nursing Bras

Best Nursing and Pumping Bra

When Bodily named this the “Do Anything” bra, they really meant it. Nursing bras are designed to be worn like a regular bra, with most of them being even more comfortable than the average bra. But pumping bras on the other hand are not well known for their comfort — which is where The Do Anything Bra comes in.

Highly recommended by Scott, the Do Anything bra will carry you “from pregnancy through lactation and beyond” and “the comfort is unmatched while also making you still feel stylish in the throes of postpartum,” Scott says. The cups unclip and fold down for breastfeeding, but they also separate in the middle so you can easily insert the flanges of your breast pump for hands-free pumping. This bra is a great option to cover your bases if you’re not sure yet whether you’ll be breastfeeding, pumping, or both.

And no need to worry about pump parts, bottles, and milk falling out; this bra is super supportive, so even after pumping a full five ounces, everything will still stay in place without you needing to hold it up yourself. One thing to keep in mind: because of the way the cups are designed to accommodate pump flanges, this bra doesn’t have a seamless look underneath tight tops. This bra looks best under loose or flowy clothing.

Additional Specs
Size Range Small (32B-34C) - Extra Large (42B-42F)
Nursing Style Unclip and fold down; Insert flanges
Closure Hook and loop

Best Supportive Nursing Bra

Known for bringing comfy, stylish bras right to your doorstep, Third Love has really upped their game in the nursing bra department. The 24/7 Classic T-Shirt Bra, their most popular one by far, has been redesigned to make it suitable for nursing. This bra is perfect for all-day wear with comfortable, no-slip straps and supportive underwire cups, and it looks completely seamless no matter what you’re wearing on top of it. And if you’re unsure about wearing a nursing bra with an underwire (we know that there is a lot of back and forth on that topic), Scott says that you should opt for one that is “comfy and has stretchy material to prevent prolonged pressure on areas of the breast which can contribute to issues.”

Lined with ultra-thin memory foam, the cups form to your breasts for a just-for-you fit. Still not convinced? Their amazing “wear it, wash it, and if you don’t love it, send it back” return policy makes it super convenient to find the perfect fit without ever having to leave your living room.

Additional Specs
Size Range Band size: 32-48; Cup size: B-I
Nursing Style Unclip and fold down
Closure Hook and loop

Best Padded Nursing Bra

Nursing pads can be a pain but a necessary one when you’re trying to catch potential leaks and unexpected letdowns. With this padded nursing bra by Target’s in-house brand Auden, you can retire your nursing pads. The wire-free bra has cups that are sewn in place, so you don’t have to worry about that annoying shifting and the need to re-adjust. And if you have a sudden leak, Dr. Haydanek says that this bra will keep it from bleeding through your shirt. “I very specifically like this one because it has sewn-in thicker cups. So especially for those who have just a little bit of leakage during feeding, it catches it without having to wear any nursing pads,” Dr. Haydanek tells us. The bra goes up to a size XL and the straps can be worn over your shoulders or in a criss-cross, so you can really pair it with most tops.

Additional Specs
Size Range Small - Extra Large (use T-shirt sizing)
Nursing Style Unclip and fold down
Closure Hook and loop

Best Wireless Nursing Bra

If you’re looking for a nursing bra that’s both comfortable and stylish, look no further than the Foxy bra from newcomer brand AVYN. Made by two moms who wanted nothing more than comfortable maternity wear that also fit their non-maternity style (hint: not beige or bland), AVYN combines super soft, stretchy fabric with a fun cross-back design, so you get plenty of room for movement, easy one-handed pull-down nursing access and a little sense of style.

Keep in mind: While this bra is great for those with small to medium breasts and band sizes, they don’t currently have sizes that work well for large breasts over 38DD.

Additional Specs
Size Range Extra Small (32A-30D) - Extra Large (38D - 40C)
Nursing Style One-handed pull down
Closure Overhead plus hook and loop

Best Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Frequent pumping is time-consuming, and with an average of 160 minutes of daily pump-holding, your hands have better things to do. This hands-free pumping bra from Kindred Bravely is a huge favorite among Babylist parents and staffers alike because of its super soft fabric, underwire-free comfort, and ability to support flanges from all major breast pump brands — wearable pumps included. Babylist associate editor Briana Engelbrecht says that, as “someone with preexisting large breasts,” she needed support as well as “easy nursing access” and this bra did it for her. And after four years, she says it’s so comfortable that she still wears it.

This hands-free pumping bra also doubles as a regular nursing bra so you can nurse and pump at the same time, leaving both of your hands free to hold baby. And since it feels like a cozy nursing bra, you can wear it all day.

Additional Specs
Size Range Small (30B) - XXL-Busty (44I)
Nursing Style Unclip and fold down; Insert flanges
Closure Hook and loop

Best Nursing Sleep Bra

If you’ve been wondering why it feels like you’re still waking up in a pool of sweat even after you’ve had your baby, it’s because your body temperature continues to stay elevated while you’re breastfeeding. Since comfortably sleeping in a heat wave for one is nearly impossible, we love this naturally cooling nursing bra that you can wear during the day and while you sleep. Wireless and hook-free, this bra is made of patented Brrr fabric — which is a nylon that is permanently cool to the touch. The fabric is also moisture-wicking and fast-drying, so you don’t have to worry about any breast milk leaks while you catch some Zs.

Additional Specs
Size Range Small (32A-32D) - Extra Large (38F)
Nursing Style One-handed pull down
Closure Overhead

Best Plus-Size Nursing Bra

If you have a larger bust when you’re not nursing, Jacqui Dinardo, blogger and mom with over 40 months of breastfeeding under her belt, says that you should prioritize “wide straps (to support the weight of the milk without digging into my shoulders), fixed pads (for shape and support), and a stretchy yet firm fabric that bounces back once washed and dried,” and this one from Boob Design checks all of those boxes. It’s has major stretch to fit everything inside nice and snug (no sideboob spillage here!), and there aren’t any wires to poke and chafe. While this one is wireless which means it can be less supportive overall, this bra makes up for the lack of structured wires with the wide band and extra-wide, no-slip straps. Plus, the Lyocell jersey fabric is naturally breathable, which is extra helpful when you cross large breasts with the postpartum sweats.

Additional Specs
Size Range Medium (30B - 34D) - Extra Extra Large (42C - 42H/44F)
Nursing Style One-handed pull down
Closure Overhead

Best Nursing Bra for Small Breasts

Extra fabric and bulky padding can make gaining access to your breast for a nursing session way more difficult than it has to be, says Dinardo. “Someone with a smaller bust should look for removable pads (the shape and support aren’t always needed),” Dinardo tells us. The Mama by Aerie nursing bra is made of lightweight nylon blend fabric and has removable, organic cotton machine-washable nursing pads that you can easily slide in and out. “The fabric has a barely-there feel and is a great alternative to a triangle bralette,” which is ideal for smaller breasts says Dinardo.

Additional Specs
Size Range Extra-Extra Small - Extra-Extra Large
Nursing Style Unclip and fold down
Closure Hook and loop

Best Stretchy Nursing Bra

When I asked our Babylist staff to tell me about their favorite nursing bra, the Larken X was raved about the most. “I’m Larken obsessed. I started wearing them a few months postpartum, never stopped, and I am still wearing them (my son just turned 2 and I’m late third trimester with another baby)” our senior newsletter editor Alainna Wurfel says. Unlike the other bras on our list, the Larken X is double-lined, so when you’re ready to pump or nurse (or both, hands-free), there are no clips to deal with. Instead, you’ll just pull both layers down from the top or pull them up from the bottom for breastfeeding. For pumping, you’ll pull one of the layers up and the other layer down on each breast, creating an X shape and snuggly place your pump’s flange. The tension of the crossed fabric will hold everything in place.

With the possibility of your breasts growing as much as two full cup sizes during pregnancy, and the shape and firmness changing depending on their fullness, this bra does a fantastic job keeping up with constant fluctuations. And since this bra actually looks like a cropped tank top instead of a traditional bra, you can wear it on its own or underneath your clothing.

Additional Specs
Size Range Extra Small - Extra Large (use T-shirt sizing)
Nursing Style Separate fabric layers, pull top down and bottom up to create X shape, insert flanges
Closure None

Best Nursing Cami

If you prefer more coverage and a held-together feel, this comfy cami provides support for your breasts as well as a bit of shaping for your entire torso. The built-in shelf bra has seamless, fabric-molded cups to support your breasts, with drop-down cups for easy breastfeeding, and a side sling for shape. This camisole is also longer than average, so you can rest assured that your midsection stays fully covered. The adjustable straps help you get the right fit, and the nylon and elastane (aka, spandex) fabric provides a rigid stretch that will conform comfortably to your curves without riding up.

Additional Specs
Size Range Small - Extra Large (use T-shirt sizing)
Nursing Style Unclip and fold down
Closure None (built-in bra)

Best Bra for Occasional Pumping

If you’re pumping only once or twice a day, or even just a few times a week, this bra gets the hands-free pumping job done without the need to wear a pumping bra all day. It’s compatible with most major breast pumps, and although it does convert to a regular bra using the included straps, it’s not our choice for long-time wear. Most parents just zip it over their nursing bra (cup flaps down) when they’re ready to pump, then take it off when finished. The best feature of this bra is that it’s basically one-size-fits-all thanks to the super stretchy back panel.

Additional Specs
Size Range Extra Small - Large (30AA - 40E/36I) and Large Plus (44B - 48J)
Nursing Style Insert flanges
Closure Front zipper

How We Chose the Best Nursing Bras

  • We utilized insight from the Babylist editorial team, including Latifah Miles, Senior Commerce Editor and mom of two, who has more than five years of experience researching, reviewing and writing about baby products, and Senior Gear Editor Jen LaBracio, an expert in the baby space for over six years and a mom of two who has written hundreds of baby gear guides and personally researched and tested hundreds of baby products.
  • We consulted the experts, including two lactation consultants, a mom with over 40 months of breastfeeding experience and an OB-GYN.
  • We reviewed customer reviews from hundreds of real Babylist parents.

When Should I Buy a Nursing Bra?

Since your breast size and shape are likely to change during pregnancy, your nursing bra can double as a maternity bra, so you can opt to purchase them while you’re pregnant and get more bang for your buck. If you’re nursing for the first time and aren’t sure what your breast size will be once your milk regulates, however, it’s a good idea to start with one or two bras in the beginning and buy the rest about six weeks postpartum, when your milk has come in and settled down.

How Many Nursing Bras Should I Buy?

Similar to figuring out when to buy nursing bras, the quantity depends on a few factors. Since nailing down your size before your milk comes in or regulates is nearly impossible, both Dr. Haydanek and Dinardo suggest starting off with just a couple of bras, to begin with.

“I wouldn’t go and buy 10 bras within the first month, I would buy a couple to get comfortable,” Dr. Haydanek says. By week four through week six, your milk supply should be regulated, making it easier for you to figure out what size you are.

Once you can accurately determine your size, Dinardo says that you’ll want to have at least two bras in rotation.

“Regular bras don’t need to be washed every day, but with nursing bras, it’s different. You might leak milk (which can smell and even cause thrush if not washed), and the lycra that makes your bra stretchy will loosen over time and provide less support—washing and drying the fabric will keep your breasts and nipples healthy while also reshaping the fabric to provide the most support,” Dinardo says. If you want to spread out your wash days, we recommend having three to five bras on hand.

Do I Need a Nursing Bra?

If you are currently breastfeeding or have plans to, a nursing bra will make it easier to feed your baby. Whether it has a clasp that unclips for quick access or stretchy fabric that is pulled up, down, or to the side, nursing bras are specifically designed to make getting your baby to their food source easier.

And as your breast size fluctuates throughout your journey, nursing bras are made to be comfortable at every stage. Plus, if you plan on pumping at any point, many nursing bras double as pumping bras so you can go hands-free while you build your stash. So the short answer is—yes, a nursing bra is very useful and they are highly recommended. But if you’re not into wearing bras, once your milk supply regulates and your leaks have leveled out to the occasional dribble, you can totally forego the bra if that is more comfortable for you.

What to Look for in Nursing Bras

There are a ton of different nursing bras out there and if you’ve never shopped for one before, narrowing down your options can be a task. Here are a few points to think about while you shop:

  • Style: Just like your pre-baby bras, nursing bras come in a few dozen styles like bralettes, underwired bras, and soft jersey knit bras. Depending on your idea of comfort, the level of support you need, and your lifestyle, you can choose a nursing bra that is similar to the style you’d wear regularly or you can add a few different styles to your collection so that you always have a bra in your arsenal that’ll work at different stages of your breastfeeding life.
  • Easy-to-use Access: Most nursing bras have either a clasp on the strap that unclips for feeding access or a clasp-free pull-down (or pull-up or pull to the side) design. While both options are effective and relatively easy to use, you might find one easier to use than another at different times. When you’re on your third feeding in the middle of the night, fumbling with a clip-down clasp is far less convenient than a pull-down style. On the flip side, if you’re in public and need to nurse, a clasp that you can unclip and reclip without needing to totally readjust your clothing will be more useful.
  • Comfort: More than anything, especially when you’re nursing and pumping, comfort should be at the top of your checklist. “Avoid any type of bra that is too tight or uncomfortable which can lead to clogged ducts or mastitis,” Scott says. “You preferably want a fabric that can stretch during the early days of engorgement and still fit well once your milk supply has plateaued around 3-4 months of age.” If you have a larger bust, Krahl says that you should opt for a “full shape bra and a full cup, not semi coverage” to avoid creating the dreaded double boob look.

Latifah Miles

Senior Commerce Editor

Latifah Miles is the Senior Commerce Editor at Babylist.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.