How to Find the Best Sports Bra for Pregnancy.

How to Find the Best Sports Bra for Pregnancy.

Posted by Ellen Chisholm on

Nikki Jay is glowing in her 'Evolve Bra' and a pair of the 'Classic Maternity Leggings' in aspen.

You very well may have heard this before, but a number of recent studies suggest that somewhere between 70-80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. It almost seems like how to choose the right bra should be something you learn in a class at school! It’s so important to get the right fitting/type of bra for a plethora of reasons; for a woman’s confidence, to reduce premature breast sagging, to reduce creases and bulges around the chest, and prevent discomfort and posture issues in the future. 

It baffles me that there isn’t more of a career path established in this area, it sounds like something is amiss! We need to get this right for our women! There’s a few expert bra fitters out there (one who is going to contribute to this piece), but really...we’re kind of on our own to get it right...particularly when pregnant, until now. Bookmark this page if you’re wanting to get pregnant or you’re currently pregnant and searching for some new boob threads...we’ve got you covered!

So how do you find the best sports bra for pregnancy? To best answer this, I’ve once again called on people who are far more in the know than I! First off we have Kamni Raju-Russell, a Bra Fitting Specialist and owner of BABE (Bras and Briefs Expert), Lorraine Scapens creator of 'The Fit Mum Programs,’ and a personal trainer who has worked with thousands of pregnant women for over 25 years and finally our own Cadenshae bra gugu - the fabulous Nikki Jay who not only knows all there is to know about pregnancy and postpartum bras (particularly Cadenshae ones!) but heads our Social Media Department.

Also, fact time - did you know that your breasts do not actually contain any muscle mass? They rely solely on the skin’s elasticity to maintain their lift and shape and if they are not properly supported, the breast tissue begins to break down. That is why the right bra is so important and to have 70-80% of us not wearing the right one is a real issue for the tissue! 

If you’re on the lookout for a sports bra during pregnancy - what do you need to keep in mind when deciding on a purchase? Let’s make a list, we all love a good list right?

  1. SUPPORT. Breasts are generally larger, heavier, and sore when pregnant so optimal support is ALWAYS necessary, regardless of whether you’re participating in high impact or low impact activities. A common misconception is that you only need optimum support when participating in high impact activities, but during pregnancy this is not the case, you need constant support to prevent sagging (among other things). Many mothers tend to overlook requiring good support for low impact exercise, which is a mistake. Whether you’re walking, Crossfitting, running, doing yoga, pilates or just hanging around the house - you need support….constantly! The level of support you need will vary depending on the activity, i.e. running will require a high impact pregnancy sports bra, but yoga would only require a low impact pregnancy sports bra. For high impact activities we recommend the 'Fit2Feed,' 'Swift' or 'Ultimate' pregnancy and nursing sports bras (cup size dependant), and for low impact exercise we recommend the 'Everyday' and 'Freedom' bras. The only time you wouldn’t need major support is when you’re sleeping! So, not only can you wear a sports bra while pregnant, you should be wearing a sports bra while pregnant. Some mamas-to-be opt to sleep in a less structured bra as it still offers some support, whilst providing comfort. Cadenshae’s best bra for sleeping in is the ‘Smoothie Crop’, but keep in mind this is only recommended for A-E cup sizes.
  1. COMPRESSION V. ENCAPSULATION BRAS. There are two types of sports bras available - compression sports bras and encapsulation sports bras. A compression bra does exactly as its name suggests; compresses the breasts to hold them in place and restrict movement. If you are any larger than a D-cup, it’s advised to skip a compression bra and go for an encapsulation bra as it offers more support.

    "Encapsulation bras have separate moulded cups, which gently lift and separate the breasts. When you separate the breasts, you effectively halve the weight, which reduces movement and eases the pull on your shoulders and back." - Kamni Raju-Russell.

Model is wearing the 'Luxe Bra' in whisper.
  1. FABRIC. Light, breezy, and sweat-wicking fabrics are the best for exercise. They pull the moisture (sweat) away from your body, so you stay cool and comfortable from start to finish. Features like netting and extra lining for liquid absorption are perfect. This especially rings true during pregnancy as women can experience colostrum leakage early on (colostrum starts to form in the breasts at around 16 weeks pregnant), so will need the right materials to cater to more than just sweat.
  1. UNDERWIRE V. NO UNDERWIRE. It can be argued that an underwire offers more support for larger busted women, however during pregnancy and postpartum an underwire is not recommended. Reason being is that due to the underwire’s restrictive nature it can cause mastitis (an infection of the milk duct/s) which is extremely painful and could result in hospitalisation. Non underwire bras are more suited to the pregnant body as the ribcage expands, offering extreme support, but with a little give. Many mums-to-be complain of sensitive, itchy and easily irritated skin during pregnancy, another reason an underwire is just not conducive to pregnancy.
  1. STRAIGHT BACK V. RACERBACK. What’s the difference? Straight back bras have standard adjustable straps and a hook and eye to fasten the band. Racerback bras have fixed straps that join together in between the shoulder blades. When compared to the conventional straps and hook and eye, a racerback allows greater freedom of movement through the shoulders and provides additional support. Pulling the straps inward and together at the back evens the weight distribution and lessens the strain on your shoulders, which can be ideal during pregnancy as there is far more weight in the front torso than usual. Finding a bra that swings both ways is ideal so a woman can change with how she is feeling day-to-day. Check out Cadenshae interchangeable straight back to racerback nursing sports bras: the ‘Swift,’‘Freedom’ and ‘Radiance’ bras. 
  1. COMFORT: When you're pregnant comfort is even more important as there is a whole lot going on in your body, the rib cage is expanding, breasts are expanding, blood volumes are increasing and towards the end of your pregnancy, the belly gets pretty close to the breasts as well! Pre-pregnancy, many women put up with uncomfortable bras if they support them well, however during pregnancy this a luxury little can afford or want to put up with. As mentioned previously, a pregnancy sports bra without an underwire is preferred during this time, because of all the expansion. Traditional sports bras are quite firm, so a good pregnancy sports bra will not have an underwire but still offer optimal comfort. Quality fabrics are also crucial as they will help draw moisture away from your body, thus resulting in less stickiness and more comfort! We all know that sticky ‘in between’ the boob feeling, it’s not great!

Bras HAVE to be comfortable. There can be enough discomfort during pregnancy and the postnatal period without mums worrying about pieces of wire sticking into them or shoulder straps creating burn marks, OUCH!” - Lorraine Scapens.

Nikki C is wearing the 'Everyday Bra' in grey.
  1. STRAPS: Straps are an integral part of any good sports bra, particularly a good pregnancy sports bra. You simply have to have straps that are easily adjustable and a racerback bra (or the option to turn into a racerback) is also recommended for more support. As the breasts gain more weight you want straps that are wide, comfortable and not going to dig in, particularly for those who are more than an E cup. The ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Luxe’ bras are perfect for those women with more. As mentioned previously, it’s best to find a bra with an extender for extra room around the underbust. It’s recommended again that you get a pregnancy sports bra with pop open clips that will essentially morph into a supportive nursing sports bra so you can feed your baby when they arrive, so practical and economical...which leads to the next point.
  1. PRACTICALITY: Pregnancy sports bras and maternity sports bras have to deliver; they have to offer support and comfort and they need to be able to grow and retract with the breasts. Once the baby has arrived, a mother then needs a quality trouble-free postpartum sports bra with pop open clips to feed the baby, and not worry that their entire breast or nipple will be on show, particularly important for breastfeeding in public. Keep in mind that all of the Cadenshae bra range are good sports bras for breastfeeding.
  1. FASHIONABLE: This of course is a personal choice, but we know that most women want to look and feel good, and this is just as important for a pregnant woman or new mum. Women need bras that do the job but also look good. There’s not a lot of maternity clothing out there with some ‘pizazz’ so if you find a few pieces…like the Cadenshae pieces...get involved! Look good to feel good! 

“I’m a firm believer that if you’re in stylish activewear you’re more likely to get out there and do exercise...I haven’t done a study on it, but I’d say most people agree!” - Nikki Jay.

  • Make sure your breasts are lifted off the stomach.
  • There are extra hooks available on the band to be able to extend the bra band.
  • For larger busts, it’s best that breasts are in an encapsulation style sports bras for maximum support and not crop style bras that compress the breasts.
  • You can only squeeze two fingers between the straps and the shoulders.
  • You can only squeeze two fingers underneath the band.
  • When the bra is on, breasts should only move minimally, not too much.
  • Make sure that the cups cover the whole breasts.
  • Kill two birds with one stone, find a pregnancy sports bra with nursing clips so you can use it for breastfeeding postpartum as well. The best pregnancy sports bras on the market are those that grow and retract with you and can serve as both pregnancy and maternity bras. Save your coins!
  • It’s probably worth purchasing more than one bra, one catered for higher intensity and/or lower intensity work-outs and one to sleep in. When you’re pregnant you want to be comfortable and supported all the time, not just when you’re exercising! So get bras that serve all purposes.

And voila! There it is, all you need to know about how to find the best sports bra for pregnancy. I sincerely hope with the help of our experts you have all you need to purchase with confidence. If you have any further questions however, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Cadenshae for more information -

Look after those precious pregnancy enhanced boobs mamas, it’s so important, we can’t stress that enough! Happy shopping!

Written by Ellen Chisholm in conjunction with Kamni Raju-RussellLorraine Scapens and Nikki Jay.

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