How Underwire Bras Affect Breastfeeding

I was a nursing bra snob. The main reason for this is because I could only use one brand of nursing pad, and those pads were the strangest shape, fitting into few bras neatly. But does it matter which bra you wear? Can you wear underwire bras while breastfeeding? If you're under no specialty pad constraints, and you just want some solid support for your suddenly larger breasts, are there more options?

I know that when I was first shopping for a nursing bra, I was even more clueless about that than I was about buying a regular bra. I am definitely one of those women who needs to be fitted every time she buys a new bra because, honestly, I wear a lot of tank tops with built-in bras and sports bras. A few days after my son was born, I went into Pea in the Pod, crying, because none of the bras I'd ordered online fit, and my breasts were like angry boulders that knocked together viciously inside their featherlight confines. The ladies were so nice, and hooked me up.

I eventually fell into wearing bras that cost more than my student loans, but hey, they fit. (Apparently, by not buying bras all those years, I was supposed to be banking that money instead of buying wine and romance novels. Who knew?) And they were underwire. So can you wear underwire bras while breastfeeding? I did, but why wouldn't you be able to? International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Alicia Rivera from San Antonio, Texas explains why.

Rivera tells Romper, "For a long time, doctors and suppliers thought that the underwire in a bra would end up causing milk congestion in the ducts, which leads to mastitis and decreased production, but we've found that isn't the case." She pointed me to a journal article in the American Journal of Epidemiology that proved bras aren't always related to mastitis or clogged ducts. She continues, "The real issue is with an ill-fitting bra. You need to be fitted when your breasts are at their largest — about three or four days postpartum, and soon before a feed." She suggests wearing a basic sleeping nursing bra until then, or a nursing tank.

When asked about which bra is best for breastfeeding, she notes, "it's personal preference, really. If you love underwire, find a nursing variety you like. If you only wear sports bras or soft cups, those exist, too." She says that it's just important to find one that fits well and provides the support you need without being too snug. "You should be able to fit two fingers between the strap and your chest," Rivera says, adding, "Make sure you can work the clasp when you're almost asleep, because chances are, that will be happening, and you don't want to be frustrated by something so menial as a hook-and-eye."

I did end up spending $70 per bra, but for me, it was worth every penny, and I wish I could still wear those gorgeous bras. But they come in every price point, at almost every store that sells bras. Try a few out after getting sized, and you will find one that doesn't impede breastfeeding.