maternity bra

Buying a maternity bra

For many women, one of the first noticeable signs of pregnancy is when they outgrow their regular fashion bras. The time scale of this process varies from woman to woman. Breast changes can occur within the first eight to 10 weeks of pregnancy, while for some women it may occur later. A switch to a maternity bra can be a welcome change when a woman’s breasts become fuller and more sensitive.

What to look for in a maternity bra:

The most important features are:

  • good support
  • comfort
  • adjustable straps and sides
  • no underwiring.

Think support

For support, it is important that the bra has wide sides, straps and an under band instead of a wire. The bra should also have a surface area that is large enough to cover your breasts. As your breasts become more sensitive the extra coverage will be a source of comfort. Look for bras with wide sets of adjustable back eyes to allow your bra to change shape along with your body.

Flexible fitting

One trick is to buy a bra that fits well on the second row of closing hooks. This way it will allow for the expansion and reduction pre and post pregnancy that occurs in both the breasts and the ribcage.


Cups should also be made of a breathable fabric. This is generally 100% cotton but there are also a few synthetic fabrics that allow the skin to breathe.


Experts generally agree that an underwire is not recommended during pregnancy or nursing. There is a concern that the rigid wire could put too much pressure on the breast, which will then lead to blocked milk ducts and mastitis (the painful swelling of the breasts).

However, if you are a woman who always wears an underwire and finds it hard not to even during pregnancy, there are now maternity bras that are made with a flexible plastic support, which is similar to an underwire.

Finding a maternity bra that is right for you:

  • Qualified lingerie specialists can measure women correctly and give advice on which bras are best for them.
  • Some outlets that provide this service include department stores like Debenhams and House of Fraser, as well as specialised stores such as Peaches and Cream in Dublin city centre’s Hibernian Way.
  • It is also important to remember that your breasts may continue to change throughout their pregnancy.
  • There is one basic difference between maternity and nursing bras: Nursing bras have panels that detach from the bra cup to allow for easy breastfeeding.
  • Some women opt to start with a maternity bra and then switch to a nursing bra in the third trimester, whereas other women prefer to wear a nursing bra throughout their pregnancy.
  • For women who choose to wear a nursing bra for the entirety of their pregnancy it is important to remember that their bra size may go up a size or two after giving birth when the milk comes in.

More like this:

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12 pregnancy body changes
Pregnancy weight gain

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….