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12 best maternity and nursing bras for support through pregnancy and after baby arrives

The best lace, multi-way and supportive styles during pregnancy and breastfeeding post-partum

Danielle Wilkins
Wednesday 05 April 2023 12:56 BST
<p>We trialled these under clothes, in bed, at the gym, around the house and beyond </p>

We trialled these under clothes, in bed, at the gym, around the house and beyond

Our Top Picks

Even in the earliest stages of pregnancy, your breasts can change. Hormonal shifts, tenderness, weight gain, your expanding rib cage and growing milk ducts mean you could swiftly go up a cup size or two. And while it can be tempting to just squeeze into your old bras for as long as possible, or even size up in your normal style, those looking for ultimate comfort will delight in the modifications that maternity and nursing bras have to offer.

Maternity bras come in stretchy, flexible fabrics to accommodate growing breasts – wider straps will support bigger cups, while a deep under-band will give better lift. They also tend to have more hooks and eyes than standard bras, allowing for greater adjustability as your body grows and your rib cage expands. Ideally, look for those that have an adjustable clasp, which can be altered up to three sizes.

Nursing bras have many of the same features but are typically worn postpartum – though many designs double up as both maternity and nursing bras, and you can wear either during your pregnancy. Just remember that your breast size could change again in the third trimester and/or postpartum, so it might be worth purchasing these nearer the end of your pregnancy. Nursing bras will typically come with clips attached to the straps, with cups that open or drop down so you can breastfeed your baby easily, without having to remove your bra.

Finally, comfort starts with the right fit – so get yourself measured in store or do it yourself at home. Many brands will have their own size guides online, so always refer to these before making your purchase.

Of course, the sign of a truly good bra is when you hardly notice you’re wearing it. But, sadly, that’s not often the case. For many women – pregnant or not – the reality is discomfort and an incessant urge to just rip the thing off. Thankfully, we’ve sifted through the countless options out there to bring you the smoothest, softest and most supportive maternity-friendly designs worth knowing about.

How we tested

We trialled a range of bras over the course of a month, testing each for comfort, fit, support, style and how enjoyable they were to wear under clothes, in bed, at the gym, around the house and more. We looked for those that offered practicality and prettiness as well as value for money, while extra points were given to those that washed well and dried quickly.

Read more: Best maternity swimwear

The best maternity and nursing bras for 2023 are:

  • Best overall – Bravado Designs enrich nursing bra: £38, Bravadodesigns.com
  • Best for wearing while sleeping – JoJo Maman Bébé two-pack maternity and nursing sleep bras: £22, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
  • Best for all-day comfort – Lounge Bare bra and thong set: £50, Loungeunderwear.com
  • Best for breast-feeding – Seraphine bamboo nursing bras twin pack: £39, Seraphine.com

Bravado Designs enrich nursing bra

best maternity and nursing bra
  • Best: Overall
  • Size range: S to XXL
  • How to wash: Machine wash cold

Maternity bras don’t come more subtle yet supportive than this buttery-soft design from the pregnancy and nursing experts at Bravado. Made with sustainable, moisture-wicking fabric and a touch of stretchy spandex, it can be adjusted up to four back sizes to accommodate your growing body, meaning it should see you through every stage of pregnancy, early motherhood and beyond.

It’s wildly comfortable and the softest style we tested by miles – the seamless, wire-free design and refined bonded trims around the neckline, underarms and around the back ensured an ultra-smooth shape (even under the lightest of T-shirts). There was also zero digging – so much so, that our tester often forgot they were wearing it.

The moulded cups offer great support, too, and come with removable inserts that we found offered good shape and lift without being too thick. They could also be replaced with disposable nursing pads.

Although our tester wore this as a maternity bra, the design is also breastfeeding friendly, thanks to its drop-down access via the easy-to-unfasten hook-and-eye clips on the straps. Again, where other designs feature nursing straps that can sometimes feel constricting or bulky, these felt lightweight, strong and fuss-free.

Choose from a selection of four colours – including pretty rose-clay and sage – and a solid range of sizes, up to a G cup.

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Ann Summers sexy lace planet maternity and nursing bra

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: Lace bra
  • Size range: 32C to 44H
  • How to wash: Unspecified

As the only bra with underwire on our list, you’d never be able to tell this gorgeous lacy number is maternity and nursing-friendly – proving that mums-to-be aren’t just limited to unsightly, cumbersome options. The cups are super soft and lined with gentle cotton, so it’s comfortable on even the most sensitive of nipples, while the inner sling allows you to insert breast pads when nursing.

It may be underwired but it’s in no way constricting, and those who struggle to feel supported in more traditional nursing bras will undoubtedly prefer this option. The wire felt light and flexible, and we had no issues with it digging in, while the bra itself came up true to size.

For nursing mothers, the magnetic clips are a godsend. They felt a lot more secure and were so much easier to snap back together (in our tester’s opinion) than most plastic clips, though keep in mind they’re not suitable for anyone who wears a pacemaker.

Both pretty and practical, this is a maternity bra that you’ll want to wear. We trialled it in red but it also comes in both black and white. We think it comes in at a great price point, too – the quality and comfort make it feel a lot more expensive than it is.

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M&S Collection seamless full cup nursing bras, two pack

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: Multipack
  • Size range: S to XL
  • How to wash: Gentle machine wash at 40C

For a no-frills approach to maternity underwear, this seam and wire-free set from M&S is perfect for those days where comfort prevails. While they’re not the sexiest to look at, they do come in three pretty and practical colourways, including a navy and grey mix and opaline.

Although not structured, the cups are lightly padded with removeable inserts and are made from a soft, light fabric that feels breathable. The cut is quite high (more akin to a crop-top, really), too, so your breasts are well-covered. The design is smoothing at the back, so looks good under T-shirts.

This set certainly scored highly for comfort, if nothing else – the under-band is ribbed and seems a touch wider than many other maternity bras. It also feels soft and has a decent amount of stretch, which our tester appreciated.

You can choose from four hook-and-eye fastenings at the back, which is helpful as your body grows (the largest size in this style goes up to a 42E). The easy-release clip on each strap makes attending to baby easy, and there’s an inner sling for extra support while feeding. Overall, a good day-to-day option that gets the job done.

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George lace embroidered non-padded nursing bras, two pack

George lace embroidered non-padded nursing bra, 2-pack.jpg
  • Best: Budget bra
  • Size range: 34B to 42F
  • How to wash: Machine washable at 40C

This pair may be the cheapest bras we tested but the design is also one of the prettiest and great quality for the price point. Lace-embroidered on the outside and lined with ultra-soft cotton inside, they’re a great choice for anyone suffering with sensitive skin around the nipple area and offer great coverage and shape, despite the cups not being padded or moulded.

These bras also come with the bonus of being breastfeeding friendly, thanks to the little plastic clips on the straps. These can easily be unfastened one handed, but we found them to be a little flimsier than some of the other nursing designs we put through testing.

The under-band offers great stretch and felt supportive without being tight, but we do recommend sizing up for maximum comfort. Our tester also fully appreciated that there are four hook-and-eye back fastenings to accommodate their growing shape.

Overall, a great, affordable, size-inclusive option that does the job it’s designed to do.

  1. £16 from Asda.com
Prices may vary
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bbhugme comfort bra

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: Pull-on bra
  • Size range: S to XL
  • How to wash: Machine washable at 40C

Bbhugme is better known for its award-winning pregnancy and nursing pillows, so it knows a thing or two about keeping mums-to-be comfortable and feeling good. The brand’s first foray into maternity wear includes the aptly named “comfort bra”, which also offers a surprisingly excellent level of support without feeling tight, and is particularly great for those suffering with extreme breast tenderness.

The easy pull-on style is both seam-free, wireless and made from super-soft Oeko-Tex certified material with a good amount of stretch. And since there are no hook-and-eye fastenings or aggravating clips, it feels especially good against sensitive skin. Much like a sports bra, it has a thick under-band, which helps breasts – big and small – feel lifted but not restricted.

The crossover front makes this bra breastfeeding friendly, and it comes with removable pads inside innovative insert pockets, which can be used to keep disposable breast pads in place. The bra offers great coverage with or without the pads, but we liked them for giving extra shape, and they’re not too thick either. Perhaps our only niggle is how pricey it is, but the comfort is undeniable, so it’s a great investment piece.

  1. £55 from Bbhugme.com
Prices may vary
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Lounge Bare bra and thong set

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: For all-day comfort
  • Size range: 30A to 38G
  • How to wash: Machine washable at 30C

Although technically not breastfeeding friendly, we adored this bra from Lounge as an everyday maternity option. Not only did we find it seriously comfortable, but the wireless, lightly foam-padded design offers a really flattering shape under clothing, with smoothing coverage around the back for seamless style.

It’s made with 95 per cent recycled polyester, with a touch of elastane for stretch. It’s super soft, ribbed and has adjustable straps, plus three hook-and-eye back fastenings for a customised fit. For our tester, the sizing was pretty much spot on, though the cups are perhaps generous enough for a little more growth (and even some disposable breast pad inserts for when you’re wearing it post-pregnancy), which means it’ll last from bump to baby.

The bra comes as part of a set, which includes a thong. Not everyone’s cup of tea – particularly in pregnancy – but we’d say the bra alone is worth the price, so it’s a nice added extra. However, note that the underwear isn’t maternity sizing but rather true to size, so we’d suggest sizing up for extra comfort.

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Pour Moi love to lounge cotton non-wired bra

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: T-shirt bra
  • Size range: 32A to 38G
  • How to wash: Hand-wash only

Light, comfortable and supportive, this lounge-inspired style from Pour Moi will see you through all three stages of pregnancy, as well as being a comfortable option post-bump. It’s non-wired and made from a soft cotton-marl fabric that couldn’t be gentler on sensitive skin.

Although the under-band is elasticated, it didn’t have as much stretch as our tester would have liked, so measure yourself carefully before purchasing. The cups are a dream, though – they offer great coverage over the whole breast (while still looking pretty), so there’s no ugly bulging or digging that can often show up underneath lighter fabrics used in T-shirts.

The trim on the bust adds a gorgeous, feminine touch without being irritating or interfering with the shape. However, it’s worth noting that this bra can’t be thrown in the washing machine and must be hand-washed only.

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Reign Studio conna fuller bust bralette

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: For large busts
  • Size range: 28F to 40KK
  • How to wash: Machine washable at 30C

Reign Studio’s fuller-bust designs aren’t technically maternity wear, but they offer some of the most comfortable, curve-enhancing styles for those who have big cups to fill – so hear us out.

The soft and cosy conna is the perfect bralette for bigger boobs, whether it’s for lounging around the house, wearing under t-shirts, for light exercise or sleeping in. Our tester – a 36GG – loved this for its athletic shape, adjustable straps, elasticated under-band and soft yet supportive cotton-blend material. It’s double-lined, too, which means it retains its shape brilliantly and stays true to form, even after countless cycles in the washing machine.

The fact that it’s so smoothing, light, soft on the skin and offers great stretch and support make this a brilliant option for pregnant women who want ultimate comfort and lift while being free from the prison of underwire.

We also think the branding is quite chic, and like the fact this style comes in three colours – including midnight (black) and olive green.

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JoJo Maman Bébé two-pack maternity and nursing sleep bras

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: For wearing while sleeping
  • Size range: S to L
  • How to wash: Machine washable at 30C

While many of us likely spend most of the day waiting to whip the thing off, for pregnant and postnatal women who need some extra light support in bed, the humble sleep bra can be a saviour. Made from ultra-lightweight, soft-stretch cotton with a cute but subtle lace trim, this two-pack from JoJo Maman Bébé is a pullover style akin to a crop-top, with zero clips or back fastenings that might cause irritation at night.

Our tester is a 36D and purchased a size medium. For them, the elasticated under-band felt snug (but not tight) and was true to size, but you may want to size up if you’re looking for a looser fit or your rib cage expands further. The nursing-friendly crossover front also makes these perfect for those bleary-eyed 3am feeds, as the cups can be pushed aside for easy access.

Of course, you could wear this outside of the bedroom, too – and we often did – whether it’s while working from home or kicking back on the sofa with baby.

Despite not being moulded, the cups provide pretty good shape and support under clothes. We’d just love to see these available in a more inclusive size range, as the largest only goes up to a 36-38DD.

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Lorna Jane active nursing bra

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: For smaller busts
  • Size range: XXS to XXL
  • How to wash: Machine wash cold

Of all the maternity and nursing sports bras we tested, this was one of our favourites. Not only is it supportive enough for anyone who still enjoys an active pregnancy, but it also fits great and feels comfortable enough for all-day wear.

It’s made from a patented breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that’s both malleable and smoothing, even under light T-shirts, and our tester especially loved the adjustable thin straps – something of a rarity in the world of maternity and nursing bras. These can be worn straight up and down like a standard bra or clipped together like a racerback for when you need a little extra support and lift. The under-band felt durable, soft and of a good thickness, while the four back fastenings and extendable bra clasp allowed for a truly customized fit.

It would be wonderful if the sizing was a little more inclusive, so those with bigger boobs could benefit from such a comfortable, well-thought-out design (this nursing bra accommodates sizes 30A to 40D). But the thinner strap style probably makes this a better option for smaller busts.

The feeding clip and built-in sling make this bra nursing friendly, too – the clips couldn’t be easier to open and close one-handed. A great, hard-working all-rounder that’ll last you well beyond your pregnancy and fourth trimester.

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Seraphine bamboo nursing bras twin pack

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: For breastfeeding
  • Size range: S to XXL
  • How to wash: Gentle machine wash at 30C

The best nursing bras feature an easy-to-undo clip (designed to be used one-handed so you can hold baby with the other), are made from super-soft materials that won’t irritate sensitive nipples, and offer great support and shape. This great-value two-pack from the maternity experts at Seraphine has all this in abundance and more.

The bras are made from robust yet ultra-soft bamboo, which is naturally hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking and antibacterial – perfect for sore and leaky breasts.

Giving your newborn access to your boobs couldn’t be easier, since the drop-down cups work well one-handed. The flexible, adjustable fit is spot on, delivering decent lift and shape under clothes, despite there being no wires or seams.

You can choose from a selection of colourways, too, including grey and blush, terracotta and black, or grey stripe and blue, up to a size XXL (40F).

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Natal Active nursing sports bra

best maternity bra nursing uk
  • Best: For sport
  • Size range: XS to XL (B to G cup)
  • How to wash: Machine washable at 30C

Even if you’ve switched from high-impact exercise to something of a lower intensity, like yoga, your breasts still need to feel supported with the right bra. Choosing the correct fit, particularly for sports bras, can be challenging but Natal Active gets it spot on with its own sizing guide.

This bra is made from a highly supportive fabric and comes with a colour-matched extender to ensure it sees you through your entire pregnancy and beyond. That said, the under-band has great stretch, too, and there are four back fastenings to select from.

The cups have lightly padded inserts but these are removable, and we found that we still got great coverage and shape without them. The straps are some of the most comfortable we tried, too – they’re stretchy and fabric-backed, so nothing digs in, and you can wear them straight down or cross-backed for extra support.

For those who are breastfeeding, this bra couldn’t be more perfectly suited to you. The drop-down cups and easy-access holes make feeding simple, and the adjustable, stretchy straps will accommodate those (often hourly!) fluctuations in breast size.

This bra scores bonus points for the gorgeous selection of colours, too. Pair with the brand’s buttery-soft maternity leggings, and you’re onto a winner.

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The verdict: Maternity and nursing bras

Supportive, smoothing and made from sustainable materials, Bravado’s enrich nursing bra is the perfect all-rounder for pregnancy and beyond. At a time when comfort is paramount, our heavily pregnant tester often forgot they were wearing it – that’s how light and gentle it is on the body. However, we must also shout out Natal Active’s bra as a brilliant option for both high- and low-impact sport, and bbhugme’s comfort bra as a great pull-on option for those with particularly sensitive and tender boobs.

Keep you (and bump) comfy while working out with the best maternity sportswear

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