I'm currently breastfeeding a baby for the third time and, with trial and error, I've learned that convenience matters. With my first newborn, I was convinced I didn't need a nursing bra; I could just lift up the bottom of my regular bra, I argued. And that wasn't the end of the world, I realized pretty quickly it wasn't a good long term solution. My bras were stretching out, and it always took some awkward fumbling to get situated. I was ready to have a nursing bra. But when I asked my friends how many nursing bras I would need, their opinions varied pretty widely.
My mom tribe was unanimous on only one thing: You need at least two nursing bras so that you'll always have one available while the other is being washed. (Or, let's be honest, sitting in the hamper for days.) Some women I asked owned only two, some owned multiple but mostly wore their favorite one every day, and one friend said she consistently rotated through four. I eventually settled on two that I loved and kept a couple more in my drawer just in case I needed them.
Start by considering how many regular bras you have; or better yet, how many you actually wear compared to how many you own. Since women have various preferences, that number might fluctuate widely. But the odds are good that you'll have the same preference while breastfeeding as you did before. If you're a minimalist who doesn't want a cluttered drawer or a lot of choices, two or three nursing bras might suffice. If you're the kind of girl who wants to have her bases covered for any possibility, you'll likely prefer several more.
The lingerie company Parfait reminds breastfeeding moms that there are several factors to consider when deciding how many nursing bras to buy. Some women like to have the support of a sleep bra at night, especially in the first few weeks postpartum when their breasts are the most full and sore. For nighttime feeding convenience, these should be nursing bras as well, but are different in style and fit than the daytime kind.
Parfait also points out that women who breastfeed during the summer months might need a higher quantity of bras than they would in the winter because of the extra sweat the bra will absorb. And mamas whose breasts tend to leak regularly will likely need to launder their bras more frequently than those who don't, even with the use of nursing pads.
Speaking of laundry, being sure to wash your nursing bras the right way will extend their life tremendously. Heidi Zak, founder and co-CEO of the bra company ThirdLove, tells Romper that hand washing bras is the way to go. "Hand washing is much gentler than a machine and will help your bras last far longer," Zak advises. "But if you just can’t be bothered, at the very least use a lingerie bag in the machine. And try to never put your bras in the dryer."
When in doubt, start with two or three nursing bras and build up from there as needed. Ultimately, the number you need will depend on your lifestyle, habits, and personal preferences. If you're planning to have more children, it might be a good idea to stock up on some extras when you find a style you love so that you don't wear down your favorite one too quickly. But do you need a nursing bra for every day of the week? For most of us, the answer is no.