“Is there a nursing bra that doesn’t feel…sad?”
This was a text I got from my friend who had just had her third baby. I knew exactly what she meant. I’m still breastfeeding my nine-month old (which often feels like a delusionally difficult endeavor) and after all the effort and heartache and pain that comes with breastfeeding, the last straw is the dumpy, medical nursing bras.
In the blur of new motherhood it’s easy to feel completely utilitarian and not at all sexy. You are a life sustaining force, which is sexy in its own right, but in practice—breastfeeding every two, then three, then four (or whatever) hours—started to make me feel like a cow. Pretty underwear can make you feel confident and sexy in that “no one knows but me slash I’m doing this for myself” kind of way, so I set out to find a nursing bra that would do the same thing. Someone must have figured this out, right?
Right! I tried a bunch. Here’s what I found (with new mom and ELLE editor Molly Langmuir weighing in!).
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1. Hofish 3-Pack Seamless Nursing Maternity Bras
Look, I can’t even get into the fact that this brand is called Hofish. It’s a terrible name for anything except for a Yandy.com sexy fish costume. (This obviously exists.) Nevertheless, they are among the top ranked nursing bras on Amazon: nearly 5000 reviews and 4.5 stars. In the haze of the first few days of new motherhood I just Amazon Primed these. To put it bluntly: they are the least sexy bras on the planet. They cover up so much of your chest and décolletage that most of the necklines of my clothes showed off the Hofish. Not exactly the look I was going for, even if I wasn’t going for a look. The nylon also made me itch like crazy. They got the job done but I quickly abandoned them.
2. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra
Turns out the company that makes your free-if-you-have-insurance breast pump also makes nursing bras. I tried this next because it looked very comfortable—less material, no hooks, softer fabrication. I think that’s why it’s called a “sleep bra”—in fact, there is a whole category of “sleep” nurse bras. But here’s what I think about that: shouldn’t all bras, including nursing bras, be comfortable enough to sleep in? And shouldn’t the comfortable bras you sleep in be bras that are so comfortable that you want to wear them during the day? It’s true that this particular model may not provide enough support for those with large busts but it worked for me. I also liked the ballet-warm-up vibe of this bra and wore it for a while.
3. Storq Nursing Bra
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I’ve been wearing them basically every day and while they’re not marketed as a sleep bra, I’ve worn them to bed loads of times now and though I do still fantasize about the day when I can just sleep bra-less (who knew that would one day seem like a luxury) they’re comfortable enough that I can basically forget I’m wearing a bra at all. There’s no clip, so when you need to nurse you just pull it aside, but somehow it hasn’t yet lost its shape. — ELLE editor and new mom Molly Langmuir
4. Lonely Bonnie Maternity Bra
Finally! A lingerie company that understands that maternity wear can and should be pretty and therefore make you feel good and confident wearing it. This New Zealand-based brand makes beautiful lingerie and recently added a maternity bra and underwear to their range. I found that the elastic didn’t stay under my boob which meant I was adjusting a lot, but I think this may be because my boobs have never been and never got that big, even in those first few months postpartum.
5. Lively Mesh Trim Maternity Bralette
This. Is. The. One. It’s incredibly comfortable and easy to use. If it weren’t for the tiny hooks at the top of the cups it looks and feels like a normal bra. Like a normal CUTE bra, I should say. The design details are subtle and stylish and the colorways are chic. I essentially live in this bra now.