I have a confession to make, I haven’t been measured for a bra since before Daisy was born (eek). That’s 18+ months ago and as someone who used to preach regularly on my magazine fashion pages about the merits of wearing the correct size lingerie I am aware of what a hypocrite this makes me. I know I’m not alone when I say as a mummy we do our utmost to make sure our babies are in the right fitting shoes, eat a well and varied diet and get enough sleep (or at least try) while we abandon/forget/neglect ourselves in doing so.
While the baby fog overtook my life when I stopped feeding, much like most new mummies, I swapped my nursing bras for my old pre-pregnancy bras or crop tops and simply forgot about ever getting fitted. I even wore an underwired bra (for fear of sagging) that was digging into my underarm and put it down to my skin being so soft as the reason it hurt and that repeated wear would toughen it up. If I am completely honest, I was also fearful of finding out how differently my bra size would be – going up a shoe size was bad enough so I couldn’t face a bra fitting! That was until I met Julia Mercer, Technical Manager and Bra Fit Expert at Marks & Spencer who uplifted me in more ways than one…
After measuring me, I was relieved to learn I hadn’t changed that much (from a 32D to a 34D) and off Julia went to scour the shop floor. Returning with a bundle of bras, we went to town trying on and I had my eyes well and truly opened. Firstly I had assumed that underwired bras would be my friend and help lift the ladies as it were but I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not necessarily the case. In fact many of my preconceived ideas were proven wrong and the proof was what I came away with.
What I Went For…
Sumptuously Soft Full Cup T-Shirt Bra – while the colour appealed to me, initially the full cup label did not. Visions of old lady bras sprung to mind when I thought of full cups and given my small (ish) bust I’d have argued I didn’t warrant a full cup – how wrong I was. It created a seamless silhouette and banished the dreaded 4 boob look I’d been ignoring for a long time.
Rosie for Autograph Silk and Lace Padded Beau Plunge Bra – putting this bra on I loved how it gave me a subtle cleavage instantly and it was by far the sexist piece of lingerie my body had seen in a long while! Julia told me that my body shape, which is as important as getting the size right, would benefit mostly from plunge bras and full cup bras but to stay away from balcony styles. It is common to suffer a hollowness in the top of your boobs post-pregnancy that can create a gap between the cup and your breast in the wrong bra but a balcony style will lift your bust and disguise this. In my case I was happy to learn that not all the life had gone from the girls yet and it hadn’t happened to mine (this time).
Longline Crossover Padded Plunge Bra – this bra was without an underwire but the support by no means felt less. In the same sumptuously soft fabric and with a handy crossover back (perfect for vest tops) it was by far the most comfortable bra of the day and when I put on my top over it I realised what a difference it made to my posture and my outline – I actually felt slimmer in it!
Considering how nervous I was about my appointment, I couldn’t have been in safer hands, quite literally. Julia gave me some excellent advice about my new bust shape, reassured me that all was definitely not lost and she made me realise how the right fit underwear totally changed my appearance. I’d definitely recommend taking the time to try on a few bras and as Julia said herself you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first.
After our successful session I seized the opportunity to ask her expert advice on caring for your boobs during and after your pregnancy…
- During pregnancy it’s best to be measured between each trimester so roughly every 3 months. Your breasts change dramatically during pregnancy – some ladies grow bigger at the beginning of their pregnancy and some at the end but each woman is individual so whenever your bra becomes uncomfortable you should get fitted and at least between each trimester.
- The best time to shop for your nursing bra is 2 weeks before your due date and we suggest you go up one cup size to allow for when the milk comes in after the baby’s born.
- Nursing bras for bigger busts don’t tend to have underwire as we don’t recommend wearing underwire during pregnancy regardless of size.
- Some pregnant women struggle with back ache during pregnancy – if you get fitted regularly and get the underband fits correctly, this can often relieve back pain.
- Easy fastening and release clips make for the best feeding bras – remember you need to be able to do this with one hand!
- After your baby has arrived the ideal time to get fitted for a new bra is once you have stopped breastfeeding and your milk has dried up. Or approximately a month after the baby is born if you haven’t breast fed is a good time then you’ll see what your base size is.
- If you don’t breastfeed for whatever reason your milk will still take about a month to dry up and you will be uncomfortable for that month so continue to wear your last pregnancy bra.
- There’s no need to limit your lingerie choices after having a baby. You can still pick sexy styles or opt for classic and comfortable, it’s all about personal preference – a lot of ladies appreciate comfort now, the sumptuously soft (the bra I came away with) is a really popular bra. We are really careful about fabrics and treatments on our bras because we understand you wear a bra for so many hours a day.
- After having a baby you should be measured as frequently as before but during pregnancy and after your body is constantly changing so it’s better to come every six months during that period, if you can.
- Contrary to popular myths about sagging you can sleep in your bra (as long as it’s not underwired) but it’s really not necessary.
- Be kind to yourself and your breasts, it takes up to 2 years for your breast tissue to return to normal after a baby.
Julia’s 5 key checks to the perfect bra fit
1. Underband – should be parallel to the floor and secure enough that only 2 fingers can fit under the elastic
2. Centre front – should sit completely flat against the sternum
3. Side wire – this should be flat against the ribcage and never digging into breast tissue
4. Cup capacity – breasts should sit fully into the cup without any spillage
5. Straps – these should be adjusted to just fit 2 fingers on top of each other, which will give the right pressure for your shoulder.
The best way to check if your bra is fitting correctly is lift up your arms twist your body and the bra will fit perfectly in place.
It is in fact the underband (the bit that goes under your boobs) that does the job so that’s the most important thing to get right – even if you have to try on two or three sizes to get it right it’s worth making sure it’s the right fit. The straps are the least important part of the bra and are there simply to hold the cup in place. If you over adjust them the back of the bra will travel up and you will end up with no support and a low hanging bust. When in the right place the underband should be parallel and then you will notice the difference.
And finally, did you know…
That every time you take your old clothing including your old bras (and let’s face it, there are always a few shoved at the back of your lingerie drawer that no longer fit!) into an Oxfam store you get £5 voucher off a £35 shop at Marks and Spencer. You can also collect more Sparks points if you recycle your old clothing and bras through their Shwopping scheme. That alone is the perfect reason to update your lingerie drawer and get fitted while doing so!
This post was not sponsored, all thoughts and opinions are my own.