Maternity Bras, Nursing Bras and Breastfeeding Information

What is the Difference Between a Normal Bra and a Maternity Bra?

Woman in a Nursing Bra

A maternity bra differs from a normal bra in that it is designed with the changes to a woman's body during pregnancy in mind. Many maternity bras feature molded cups or seam-free cups so there are no seams to irritate sore or sensitive breast tissue. Maternity bras are typically made of a material with some give and stretch, to be more forgiving as breast size changes. They tend to have wider straps and a wider band to provide good support to swelling breasts. And they're designed with comfort in mind. A good maternity bra would mitigate many of the discomforts you're having!

What is the difference between maternity bras and nursing bras?
There are two main differences between maternity bras and nursing bras: nursing bras tend to have cups that open in order to facilitate breast feeding, and many nursing bras are lined or designed to accommodate pads to catch any leakage instead of letting it seep through the bra and wet the shirt.

Special thanks to Anita Maternity and Anita Nursing Bras for making the information in this guide available.

A Common First Sign of Pregnancy

At the beginning of your pregnancy, you will experience subtle growing pains in your breasts. Under the influence of the pregnancy hormone, the breasts are already preparing for their eventual feeding task.

The female breast is situated between the outer skin of the thoracic cage and the large thoracic muscle. It consists of glands, connective tissue and fatty tissue and has no muscle tissue of its own. The maturing of the mammary glands and the storage of tissue fluid can cause the breast to become much heavier. This means that it now needs support. Its rapid expansion can lead to tearing of the connective tissue, causing your bust to lose shape.

Anita Expanding Bras for pregnancy helps you avoid this. Soft, naturally shaping underwiring for sensitive breasts and transparent, all-round breast support offer a perfect fit and support up to large sizes. Soft, seamless cups are kind to your increasingly sensitive nipples. The wide, soft padded straps ease the strain on the shoulder and neck area, while the soft, breathable microfibre material ensures a high degree of comfort and an optimal skin climate. With Anita maternity bras, maternity panties, maternity belts, and nursing bras, you can stay attractive and in good all-round shape throughout pregnancy!

An Exciting Time Begins

While you may be filled with anticipation, excitement or concerns about the new baby on the way, not many things in life can actually prepare you for the changes happening to your body during pregnancy.

For example, under the influence of the pregnancy hormone, your tummy will grow in the coming months to make room for your baby, and at a rate that may be faster than you can easily adapt.

Your tummy will grow in both weight and circumference, making strong demands on a healthy body. As a general rule, you should expect to gain a total of 20 to 30 pounds or 10 to 14 kilograms in weight.

Support Problems and Solutions

According to the University Hospital in Frankfurt, West Germany, pregnancy tummy growth leads to discomfort in many pregnant women.

The Anita Support Principle in Clinical Tests (University Hospital of Frankfurt/Main, West Germany):

  • 100% of respondents complained of back pain.
  • 96% felt pressure and tension in the abdominal/pelvic region.
  • 60% reported draggin pains inthe pelvic region.

The Use of Anita Support Aids (Baby Belt) produced the following results:

  • 82% reported an alleviation of back pain.
  • 93% felt less pressure and tension in the abdominal/pelvic region.
  • 93% reported an alleviation of draggin pelvic pains.

In conclusion, the Anita BabyBelt in sizes XS - XL is a useful and supportive aid which contributes to your attractiveness and wellbeing.

Exercise is Good For You

Pregnancy in the Fitness Generation. Your tummy needn't be an obstacle to keeping fit - in fact it will do your baby good! Exercise gives you a positive attitude towards your body: it makes you more physically aware, stimulates your circulation and increases your oxygen supply.

A little exercise will make you better able to cope with the strain of birth. True, it takes a bit of will power, but it will make you feel better and give you energy and a sense of wellbeing. As long as you feel well and don't experience any pain or dizziness, there is virtually nothing you can't do (be reasonable and responsible).

The ideal way to exercise during pregnancy is in the water. This takes the weight off your joints, spinal column and muscles. It also gets your blood fowing, stabilizes your circulation and makes you breathe more deeply, all of which has a beneficial effect on your baby.

Our Tip: The best exercise right up to the birth itself is water-based exercise such as "aqua-aerobics". The water takes your weight and eases the strain on your back, joints and muscles. Swimming gets your blood flowing, stimulates your circulation and makes you breathe more deeply.

Be Sensible About Weight Gain

Don't get stressed about eating! If you normally have a healthy, balanced diet, there is no need to change your eating patterns. If you tend to live on fast food, take-out and nutritionally inadequate canteen food, however, you are advised to pay a bit more attention to what you eat from now on: after all, there are two of you to think about!

That doesn't mean that you should eat "for two", i.e. twice as much, during your pregnancy: the important thing is to eat a varied and balanced diet. In the coming months, you should ensure a regular intake of the following foods:

  • Cereals
  • Rice, pasta and potatoes
  • Vegetable and fresh fruit
  • Fish and lean meat

Also: drink plenty of fluids!
People easily forget to drink enough. Have two bottles of mineral water, juice or a thermos flask of tea at the ready on your office desk or within your field of vision at home - that way you're more likely to think of it! Drinking is essential 1.5 to 2 liters a day should be your minimum.

The "no-no's"!
You should eliminate the following foods from your diet:

  • Raw milk products, raw meat, raw egg dishes
  • Basil, oregano, mint, cardamon, ginger and cinnamon can induce premature contractions
  • Not all multivitamin supplements are suitable for pregnant women: ask your midwife, health advisor or doctor.

What About Those Notorious Hunger Attacks...
You don't need to feel guilty about eating what you fancy - eat what your body tells you to! The odd jar of pickles or pickled herrings won't hurt, as long as you don't make a habit of it. Our Tip: If you don't have time for a balanced meal, try at least to eat an apple and/or drink preferably two glasses of milk a day. That way your body is getting the essentials it needs.

Experience Your Bodily Changes

Look after your tummy! You may be worried about the possibility of stretch marks. The rapid expansion of the tissue can cause the skin around the tummy and hips to become cracked. To give your skin a helping hand, you should keep it supple and stimulate blood flow with creams, lotions, gels or oils. Some of these are specifically designed for pregnancy: we particularly recommend natural oils such as wheat germ, alomond, or jojoba oil.

Prepare your Breasts for the Job Ahead
Your breasts start preparing for the job of breastfeeding right from the beginning of your pregnancy. They become larger, heavier, your nipples become more sensitive and the connective tissue is put under a lot of strain. It is therefore very important to wear a well-fitting maternity bra such as the Anita Maternity Bras.

Our Tip: To give yourself confidence and security, find out about breastfeeding now and get some advice. Talk to your midwife, nursing advisor or nursing group.

When to Shop for Maternity Bras

To find the correct fit for maternity bras, simply follow the same fitting techniques as listed previously and then check for the following:

  • Bras should securely support but not bind under the breast. Constricting the breast could affect milk ducts.
  • Breasts continually change in both shape and size throughout pregnancy. Choose a bra with a roomy cup design so that the breasts can expand as your pregnancy progresses.
  • The upper side of the cups should be loose without sacrificing comfort or support. If breasts enlarge beyond a couple of sizes, refitting may be necessary.
  • Try on bras with a breast pad or shield. Place the pad inside the cups to check for fit.
  • The center of the bra should lie flat against the breastbone and the bra shouldn't ride up in the back. Ride-up indicates that the band may be too large, the cups or shoulder straps too tight, or the need for more support.
  • The bra should fit comfortably when fastened on the middle row of back hooks. This will allow for changes in body size as the pregnancy progresses and before nursing bras are required.

When to Shop for Nursing Bras

Shop for nursing bras in the last trimester of pregnancy to assure a lasting fit.

There are two main differences between maternity bras and nursing bras: nursing bras tend to have cups that open in order to facilitate breast feeding, and many nursing bras are lined or designed to accommodate pads to catch any leakage instead of letting it seep through the bra and wet the shirt.

There's a lot of crossover between maternity bras and nursing bras – they tend to have similar design features, and we feature many bras in both categories here at Big Girls Bras. Realistically, you can buy nursing bras to wear as maternity bras during the final stages of the pregnancy, and then use them as intended to nurse after the baby is born.

Fitting a Good Nursing Bra

To find the correct fit for nursing bras, simply follow the same fitting techniques as listed previously and then check for the following:

  • Bras should securely support but not bind under the breast. Constricting the breast could affect milk flow.
  • Breasts continually change in both shape and size throughout pregnancy. Choose a bra with a roomy cup design so that the breasts can expand once your milk comes in.
  • The upper side of the cups should be loose without sacrificing comfort or support. If breasts enlarge beyond a couple of sizes, refitting may be necessary.
  • Try on bras with a breast pad or shield. Place the pad inside the cups to check for fit.
  • The center of the bra should lie flat against the breastbone and the bra shouldn't ride up in the back. Ride-up indicates that the band may be too large, the cups or shoulder straps too tight, or the need for more support.
  • The bra should fit comfortably when fastened on the middle row of back hooks. This will allow for changes in body size as the pregnancy progresses and after delivery.

Now that Baby's Here...

Now you can hold your little bundle of joy in your arms, and the bonding process between mother and baby begins.

The ability to breastfeed your baby is a precious gift - for you and your baby. For the baby, it brings security and maternal warmth. And it makes life easier for you because you don't have to bother with bottles, baby food or sterlizing equipment. Breast milk is naturally sterile, fresh and perfectly balanced; it comes at the right temperature, costs nothing, and is always available when needed. According to the research, it also has a positive effect on the development of your baby's intelligence, as suckling helps stimulate the nerve and muscle function. And it protects your newly born against infection. Children who are breastfed suffer less from diarrhea, constipation, and wind. You should offer your breast to your baby immediately after birth, as its need to suckle is usually particularly strong at this time. The first milk is called the colostrum, and supplies nutrients, minerals and vitamins as well as antibodies.

Here are a few tips on hygiene during the nursing period

  • Always wash your hands before breastfeeding.
  • Never wash your nipples with soap or disinfectant, otherwise they will dry out. Clear water is perfectly adequate for cleaning the breast.
  • Keep your breast dry. After feeding, let the remaining milk drops and your baby's saliva dry on your nipple, as this has a natural anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Use breast pads. These are highly absorbent and keep your nipples dry.
  • Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed. Why not make yourself a cosy "nursing corner" with comfy blanket, subdued lightling and some gentle music?
  • Take plenty of time over feeding and always have something to drink handy.
  • Breath slowly and evenly. Relax your shoulder and arms. Picture the flow of milk to your baby.
  • Think of something pleasant and enjoy the time with your baby, who will pick up the positive "vibes".

Development of the Breast

Between the 2nd and 6th day after birth, you will experience a rush of milk to the breast, when the blood flow intensifies in preparation for the mature breast milk. Most women experience a feeling of tension to differing degrees. The breast temporarily becomes much heavier, and now needs special support. That's where the Anita Nursing bras come in.

Nursing bras have practical openings with a nursing clasp to prevent constriction during breastfeeding and allow the milk to flow freely. This takes the stress out of feeding your hungry baby and keeps your bust in shape. Thanks to the patented Anita Maternity KwikKlip opening, you can even open and close the bra with one hand, so you can keep your baby safely in your arm.

Breastfeeding also has a number of advantages for you. It protects you against infection in the postnatal phase, while the breastfeeding hormones stimulate the recovery of the uterus and reduce the risk of bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding has a calming effect on you, furthers the mother/baby bonding process and uses up extra calories, thus helping you regain your normal weight after the birth.

Eat a Varied Diet

During the nursing period, you can basically keep to your normal diet and eat whatever you like. It is not a time for dieting or slimming, as you now need all your body's reserves. The best thing for you and your baby is to regain your normal weight gradually. It is essential to eat regularly, otherwise you will not produce enough milk and your baby may be weaned too early.

Here are a few tips for healthy eating during the nursing period:

  • Eating little and often stabilizes your blood sugar level.
  • Whole wheat bread and cereals contain more minerals and ensure regular bowel movement.
  • Since your protein requirement is higher during the nursing period, you should eat protein-containing foods such as milk and dairy products, eggs and meat, nuts, cereals.
  • Calcium is also very important at this time, and is present in high levels in sesame, nuts, tofu, olives, organges, figs and dates.
  • Your body needs a small amount of high-quality fats. Cold-pressed oils with unsaturated fatty acids are good for you as well as being important for your baby's brain development.
  • And of course fruit, vegetables and salads are especially good for keeping well and healthy.

What to watch out for:
Here again, a diet of fast food and cola is not the best thing for you or your baby. To avoid wind for both your sakes, you should eat cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli rather more sparingly. In particular, exotic dishes and strong spices should not be eaten in excess.

Our Tip: A good way of avoiding wind in both you and your baby is to take cumin and fennel. You'll find that fennel tea with a spoonful of honey not only tastes good, but is an effective remedy for flatulence. As for your baby, you should only give your baby unsweetened tea, and never give your baby honey.

Breastfeeding and Exercise

Physical exercise contributes to our well-being, and the same applies - in moderation - to breast - feeding mothers. Extreme sporting activities are not recommended for new mothers for a number of reasons. The main difficulty, however, tends to be finding the time to take exercise. Use your imagination and find new ways of keeping fit together with your baby. For example, you could go for walks with the baby in a sling tied to a back carrier. And a few gentle exercises with a Powerband will get your muscles gradually back into shape.

Swimming (once the postnatal discharge has ended) is also a good way to keep fit. With older babies in particular, trips to the swimming pool are a good source of exercise and relaxation. Our Tip: Enroll in a postnatal exercise course to tone up the muscles of your pelvic floor: these courses are offered by hospitals, adult learning centers and of course midwives, health visitors and nursing groups.

Tiredness and Relaxation

Treat Yourself!
Body care contributes to your well-being. After the birth, stick to the care routine you followed during pregnancy - your skin will thank you for it! There are a few points to observe, however: keep soap, creams, and perfumes away from the nipples and surrounding area. If you have sensitive skin, you should use hand cream regularly, as frequent washing of the hands raises the risk of minor wounds becoming infected.

How about a nice bath?
There are some great bath additives around with essential oils such as lavender (relaxing) and vanilla (harmonizing). Put some gentle music on and take half an hour out.

Reinvigorate tired feet!
The shifting of the spinal cord's center of gravity and weight gain that comes with pregnancy can lead to a flattening of the foot arch. The occasional foot bath can do wonders for this. Take a few minutes to massage your feet using invigorating creams or oils. You'll be surprised how reviving this can be - not just for your feet.

What to do about sore nipples:

  • Just before feeding, squeeze out a few drops of milk: that way your baby doesn't have to suck as hard and your breast will be less irritated.
  • Use an infrared lamp on your breast for a few minutes several times a day: the warmth has a healing effect.
  • Refrain from pulling off or softening the scurf on your sore nipples: it is part of the healing process and will not bother your baby.

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