The best nursing bras: top maternity bras 2018

Nursing bra

As every new mum (and everyone who remembers being one) will know, babies can be pretty rude. They don’t adhere to regular mealtimes, they don’t understand the phrase “15 minute wait”, and they won’t hesitate to throw up on you if displeased (whereas you’d get thrown out of Wahaca for doing the same). That’s where a nursing bra comes in handy. We can’t promise it’ll make it all better, but finding the right bra will certainly help when it comes to feeding on the go, in the middle of the night, or even just kicking about at home. But what are the best nursing bras and what do you need to think about before buying one?

When buying a nursing bra, there are a few things to consider. First of all, while it might seem organised to buy one as soon into your pregnancy as possible, resist the temptation, because believe it or not, you’re likely to get even bigger. From 36 weeks onwards is a great time to have a nursing bra fitting.

You’re looking for a bra with a good number of hook-and-eye fastenings for adjustability, cups that can open and close with one hand for breastfeeding or expressing (manually or electronically), a deep front to give your girls the extra support they need, and sturdy straps. Most general-use nursing bras are much of a muchness in terms of functionality, but look at the coverage and level of padding to see what you prefer for day-to-day wear. The exception is nursing sleep bras, which give light support at night and are easy to use for fumble-free nocturnal feeds.

Nursing bra

1. John Lewis Maternity Bra, Pack of 2, Ivory/Navy

Pretty and practical non-padded nursing bras bras for everyday wear

Best for: Everyday | Padding: No | Wiring: No | Sizes: 32C-36G | Colours: Navy/Ivory | RRP: £35.00

 Comfy and pretty for everyday 
 Soft and stretchy 
 Not everyone will like the lower front 

These nursing bras have just the right balance of casual comfort, convenience, and pretty detail, making them lovely for everyday wear. They feature drop cups for easy feeding on cue, are soft and stretchy enough to wear comfortably for long periods and accommodate fluctuations in size, and lie smooth enough to wear under t-shirts. Fab all round. 

Nursing bra

2. Bravado Seamless Maternity & Nursing Bra

A versatile bra with removable padding — for when you need a little boost

Best for: Multi-use | Padding: Removable | Wiring: No | Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL | Colours: Ivory, black, latte | RRP: £30.00

 Removable padding 
 Seamless finish 
 Quite pricey for one basic bra 

This seamless nursing bra guards against chafing and sits completely flush to the skin, giving you a seamless silhouette even under t-shirts. But its big seller is its removable padding — without the foam cups, it’s a lightly supportive bra that moulds to the shape of your body for barely-there comfort. With them, it gives you a bit of a boost whenever needed, and keeps breast pads under wraps 

Nursing bra

3. Royce Poppy Print Nursing Bra

This full-coverage floral bra to preserve your modesty while looking lovely

Best for: Full coverage | Padding: Yes | Wiring: No | Sizes: 32D-40FF | Colours: Coral print | RRP: £30.00

 Full-coverage cups 
 Cute colourful print 
 High neckline can’t be worn with all tops 

Think nursing bras are all function, no fashion? Think again, because this pretty printed nursing bra is both. The full-coverage moulded cups offer wonderful support, and their high-hitting front makes this a great style for keeping things under wraps, with the adjustable shoulder straps offering a bit of leeway. The mixed floral print and cheerful coral shade make a nice change from the standard offerings, too. 

Nursing bra

4. 2-Pack Maternity & Nursing Sleep Bras (JoJo Maman Bebe)

A superbly simple pull-on nursing bra for fuss-free feeding any time of the night or day

Best for: Night-feeding | Padding: No | Wiring: No | Size: S, M, L | Colours: Black, white | RRP: £19.00

 Easy wrap front; no clasps 
 Comfortable for night-time wear 
 Limited size range 

These ultra-comfortable sleep bras make night-nursing a breeze, and are a great help on busy days too. This crop top style pulls on over the head like a t-shirt and offers light support during sleep, fitting just closely enough to keep pads in place, but with no thin straps or attachments to dig in. When the inevitable wail announces feeding time, the wrap front pulls easily aside, no fiddly clasps to worry about. A real throw-on-and-go item. 

Nursing bra

5. Black and Nude Fuller Bust Smoothing Nursing T-shirt Bras

A smoothing and shaping nursing bra for larger cup and back sizes

Best for: Fuller bust | Padding: Yes | Wiring: No | Size: 32E-40G | Colours: Black, nude | RRP: £30.00

 Carry larger sizes than many bras 
 Smooth seamless finish 
 Padding is fixed 

The ultimate t-shirt nursing bra for fuller busts, this Mothercare offering stays sleek and smooth even under thin or close-fitting tops, and gives optimum support where it’s needed. The drop-down cup is super-convenient for feeding any time, while the retainer strap keeps the bra in place, leaving you feeling covered. A wonderful meeting of smoothing, shaping and convenience for ladies who are larger up top. 

Nursing bra

6. Emma Jane Next Generation Seamfree nursing bra

Soft on skin with great stretch, this bra will see you through birth and beyond

Best for: Comfort | Padding: No | Wiring: No | Sizes: 32B-38F | Colours: Black, beige, white | RRP: £13.00

 Supremely comfy 
 Easy-release clasps 
 Pretty see-through 

These seamfree bras are so comfortable even non-breastfeeding reviewers said they’d stocked up on them for wear post-birth. The knitted underband offers soft-on-skin support and the ruched front gives great stretch to accommodate for fluctuating size, while the clasps can be easily unhooked with one hand for convenience. While not officially a sleep bra, users have said they’re comfy enough to wear to bed, so they’re a good alternative to the JoJo Maman Bebe bras if you feel more secure in a traditional shape bra. 

Nursing bra

7.Royce Blossom Bra

Bra-meets-crop-top in this comfortable adjustable nursing br

Best for: Style | Padding: No | Wiring: No | Size: 32C-40H | Colours: Black/white print | RRP: £30.00

 Adjustable drawstring for different necklines 
 Cute print 
 Pity it doesn’t come in lighter colours 

While each of the bras on our list has its own particular charms, it certainly seems as though Royce are winning in the stylish support stakes. Its adjustable front gives a range of wear options: pull the drawstring for a lower cut, superb for wearing under deeper necklines for dressy occasions, or release to wear as a comfy crop top at home or in bed. If you don’t always need to full coverage of the Poppy Print bra, consider this cute polka dot design. 

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