The ligaments in the breast are embedded in fatty tissue, which creates the bulk of the breast’s fullness. The thin band of ligaments surrounds the breast tissue under the skin, giving support and maintaining shape.
The mammary gland is the organ that produces and secretes milk. The mammary tissue contains between 15-20 lobes consisting of thousands of milk-producing units called alveoli. These lobes are connected by a network of tubes and ducts that all meet at the nipple.
During pregnancy the cells lining and the lobes multiply when hormones are released after giving birth, resulting in lactation of the milk supply.
Maternity and Nursing Bras are constructed differently to traditional bras. The cups are specifically designed to accommodate the breast, provide room for change, to support and allow for functionality.
Additional support and comfort is required which is provided through the back band, straps and uniquely constructed cups.
The breast is naturally stretched in a downward direction due to its sheer weight and natural forces of gravity. Wearing a supportive bra will avoid unnecessary stretch in the breast tissue, maintaining a more youthful and pleasing uplift.
It is important to wear a correctly fitted bra. An incorrectly fitted nursing bra or a bra that is not designed for nursing can become uncomfortable, cause irritation and in certain cases, medical complications.
As the breasts start to enlarge and swell due to the production of milk it is imperative that your bra is not applying pressure onto the milk ducts and potentially restricting its natural production. Your bra cups should encase each cup, providing comfort and support.
Nursing bras may often look like a conventional bra, but with a closer inspection there are several differences in construction and design.
A well-designed nursing bra will allow for discrete feeding with easy clip-on drop cups, cotton lined cups to allow the skin to breath, cotton lined straps to provide comfort, a wider back band that will provide support, stretch in the top cup fabric to cater for expansion of the breasts and 6 hook and eye band adjuster to allow for changes in the width of the rib cage.
Buy a good quality bra. You will never need a better fit & more support as during this period in time. A low quality product will quickly loose is ability to provide fit, support and shape as wash & wear will lead to stretch in its elastics and fabric.
It is very important to ensure that your growing breasts are well supported during pregnancy and after birth.
There are some typical warning signs:
The general rule is that you should buy your maternity bra 6-12 weeks into your pregnancy and your nursing bra, at around 28 weeks.
When purchasing your bra at 6-12 weeks, you should buy a bra that is on the tightest hook to allow for growth and expansion of the rib cage and diaphragm. The bra that is purchased at around 28 weeks should be fitting on the last hook allowing for tightening after birth when the rib-cage contracts and the milk settles.
Some key points to consider:
From a health standpoint, wearing a flexible under wire maternity/nursing bra is fine. It not only provides good shape but also helps provide lift and support.
Restriction of blood flow and milk production seen to lead to clogged ducts or mastitis is possible even with a non underwire bra, should the breast tissue be restricted or constricted.
It is important that both underwire and non-underwire bras are comfortable when worn and fit correctly. The bra cups (bottom and sides) should sit underneath and around the breast and not on it. The side of the bra cups should encompass the breast rather than having the it digging into the breast tissue.
A tip would be to not wear an under wired bra during the weeks when the milk is coming in. Generally this takes place a week prior to birth and a week after birth. This will allow the breasts to settle due to the fluctuation in the size of the breasts during this period.