Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fitting Yourself for a Nursing Bra?

Not everyone has the luxury of having a certified bra fitter in your neighborhood.  Everyone who measures you for a nursing bra is not necessarily qualified either.  To get a good fit, you will need to take three measurements, not just two.  Measure high under the armpits while making sure your elbows are at your side while reading the tape, measure the fullest part of your breast with a bra on, and measure underneath the breasts where the bra would sit on your ribcage.  Make sure the bra you are wearing during your measurement is not compressing the breast or does not have padding.  The armpit measurement is the closest to your band size, so if you are measuring a 37, your band size is 38.  Take the rib measurement and subtract it from the fullness of the bust measurement to get the cup size.  For example, if you are 43 in the bust and 36 in the ribs, the difference is 7" which is roughly an F cup.  Also take into consideration how your current bra is fitting.  There should not be enough room in the back to get your fist in and it should not be riding up, but rather sitting below your shoulderblades.  The cups should offer two separate breasts with no breast tissue spilling over the top or coming out the bottom when you lift you arms.  For detailed instructions on measuring yourself, click here:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cup Size Confusion: DD, E, DDD, F

One of the most common questions I get as a professional bra fitter is where do I find a DDD?  There are several reasons moms are having such a hard time finding their bra, even after they have been measured.
1.  They don't understand the cup size equivalents.
2.  They haven't been properly measured.
Let me address the measurements first.  If your bra fitter did not take three measurements, she has been trained to fit you into certain brands of bras.  Many companies do not offer cup sizes larger than a DD so they use two measurements and add 4 or 5 inches to make up the difference.  Another problem with fitting is when moms measure themselves, the assume the size under the bust is equal to the band size. 
Here is the scoop on bra fittings:
1) Make sure you get three measurements.
2) Understand whether you are buying a full figure bra or a standard bra.
Not all bra companies use standard equivalents.  Most brands like Bravado Nursing Bras, QT Intimates, La Leche League Intimates and Amamante Nursingwear are as follows:  6" difference between under the bust and the fullest part of the bust = DD, 7" = DDD/F, etc.  That is where the confusion comes in so let me make it clear.  A DD cup = E for full figure bras, DDD = F, but if you are used to buying a standard bra that comes in cup sizes B-DD and no higher, there will be about a half cup size increase between the DD in a standard style and a DD/E in a full figure style.  To clarify, full figure styles start at D cup size; they do not make the B or C cup.  That's how you know if a DD will equal an E.  
Some manufacturers like Bravado Designs Nursing Bras advocate a 2 measurement method, but do offer larger sizes.  You should still use the 3 measurement method to get your Bravado Bra size, as their size charts still correspond since they use a multi-cup system. For example, they offer a 36FG which fits both and F and a G cup.  Some of their styles fit an even wider range of cup sizes.  For example, the Bravado BodySilk Nursing Bra comes in 4 sizes, but also Consider Amamante Caress & Contour Nursing Bra which has two sizes making it very versatile and affordable option for the new mom whose shape is constantly changing in the early weeks of breastfeeding.
To make things even easier, go to our fitting room for full measuring instructions and a sizing chart.
Shop by nursing bra size here.
When you order bras online, make sure to order at least two different brands in the size you are measuring.  You would not take just one swimsuit into a dressing room and expect it to fit.  The more nursing bra styles you try, the better the fit.  You may also want to order more than one cup or band size if your are measuring an in-between size.  When you receive your bra, hook it in front of you and then turn it around to make sure you know which hooks you are using for the band size.  Then turn it around to put the straps on.  Then either lift the bust into the cups or lean into them to ensure that all of the busts are in the cups before determining if it is the right size.  DD and DDD are by no means the largest cup sizes as we offer nursing bras that come in cup sizes G, H, I, J, K, L and M! 

Nursing Bras: Underwire vs. Soft Cup

     The age old question for nursing mothers is "to wire or not to wire".  Most Lactation Consultants agree that wires are not healthy for the nursing breasts.  In fact, most wires are not healthy for any woman's breasts.  Wires in nursing mothers can cause plugged milk ducts which can lead to breast infection (mastitis).  Mastitis can lead to abscess and early weaning.  Why are wires not good other women?  Most women wear ill-fitting bras which when removed leave an ugly uncomfortable red mark where the wire was.  This is your first clue that the bra is unhealthy for your breasts.  Even if you are not nursing, this can cause or aggravate cysts.
     So how do you get a bra that lifts without a wire?  Not all soft cup bras are created equal.  Just because you tried one soft cup bra that made your boobs droop, doesn't mean that none of them will work.  Every style of bra is not made for every woman.  If you are a perky B, C, or even D cup, you have it pretty easy in finding a soft cup that supports you.  Lightweight styles will work for most B and C cups, but once you get to D, you need to take stock of your breasts.  If they sag, you need more support!  If you are a pendulous D or any DD cup, you will need a bra that offers under support in the form of a wide band, molded cup or side seam support like the Amamante Smooth and Shape Nursing Bra, Bravado BodySilk Nursing Bra, the Bravado Double Plus nursing bra or the Bravado Sublime Nursing Bra.  For F, G and H cup moms, you should go with Fancee Free's 94305 or the Bravado Sublime.  Once you are in an I, J, K, L or M cup, your options are limited.  (Yes, there are cup sizes larger than DDD, but we'll talk about that in another blog.)  Previously, the best option for the best price was the Fancee Free 94305. It has the structure you need as well as a foam under-support that lifts without a wire.  Now, Elila offers a bra that offers similar support with a lower frame under the arms and fully adjustable straps, the Elila 1613.  The Fancee Free bra is perfect for the fuller bust size unless you are petite as the padded shoulder straps work great for supporting the weight of the breasts, but do not allow for enough adjustment for petite mothers.  If you are petite or prefer the lower frame, you should go with the Elila bra over the Fancee Free. 
     Still not convinced?  I do have a few clients who won't give up their wire.  If you are a B-F, the main wire bra I recommend is the QT Foundations Nunderwire since the wire is removable so mom can wear it for date night, but take it out for around the house.

Here's to an informed decision,

Shop Soft Cup Nursing Bras
Shop Underwire Nursing Bras