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Is It Safe To Wear A Bra During Breastfeeding?

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is observed every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries. Initiated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 1991, the event aims to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life, which yields many health benefits.

Breastfeeding for the first six months helps provide critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fosters the growth and development of the child [1]. World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2021 is 'Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.' The focus is on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all and why it is imperative to spread awareness on the importance of breastfeeding worldwide.

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One question that bothers many nursing women is: "Should I wear a bra during breastfeeding?" Well, the answer to this question is simple. It is better to offer support to the breasts while ensuring that there is no discomfort caused due to the bra.

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Is It Safe To Wear Bra During Breastfeeding?

Yes, but not the regular ones. One of the primary reasons to choose the right kind of bra is because you need to wear it for the whole day. As the size of the breasts tends to increase during that phase, one may need to choose the bra to avoid certain minor issues carefully. A wrong choice could also affect milk production, which is another important concern of any nursing mother [2][3]. Another reason to be picky about the bra is the variations in the supply and production of milk during the nursing stage. The supply isn't the same all the time.

(1) Avoid under-wire bras: Experts advise not to use an under-wire bra during the breastfeeding stage. During the breastfeeding stage, breasts tend to become tender. Certain types of bras could create certain issues. Therefore, it is better to avoid wearing them during the nursing stages [4].

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Under-wire bras apply a lot of pressure on the tender breasts, and that could result in pain. In some cases, the pain could be in extreme proportions and make it difficult to fall asleep. Also, a sense of uneasiness may prevail throughout the day when the bra causes inconvenience.

(2) Size of breasts: The size of the breasts could undergo lots of changes during the breastfeeding stage. Before the feeding, the size could be more, and after the feeding, the size could reduce slightly. Wearing an under-wire bra could cause discomfort, especially when the size of the breasts increases due to milk production [5][6].

(3) Mastitis: Mastitis is an infection that develops in breast tissue. In some women, under-wire bras during the breastfeeding stage also result in mastitis [7]. This is the reason why experts advise not to use them in the nursing stage. Dealing with mastitis during the breastfeeding stage isn't easy. It is better to take preventive measures than deal with any health issue.

(4) Blood circulation: Another issue with under-wire bras is that they could inhibit blood circulation, and this may increase the chances of clogged ducts. In fact, it could also affect the production of milk. Though some sources say that there isn't enough evidence to prove that these bras will reduce milk supply, it is better to be on the safe side when you are raising a baby.

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What Type Of Bra Should I Wear After Delivery?

A better alternative could be maternity bras. Wearing nursing bras can be a relief as they don't cause any discomfort. In fact, maternity bras are made of materials that are soft and comfortable. Also, they are designed to be flexible and supportive. But choose a material that is skin-friendly to avoid further issues if you have sensitive skin [8].

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The size of the breasts tends to change several phases of the pregnancy. The size increases as the body prepare itself to accommodate the milk production and supply. In fact, after the second trimester, one might start experiencing discomfort when regular bras are used. That is when one can start trying the maternity bra after consulting the doctor [9].

When Should You Start Using A Nursing Bra?

Experts suggest that you can start wearing maternity bras as you enter your second trimester, as they are beneficial and comfortable for your changing breasts.

How Is A Nursing Bra Different From A Maternity Bra?

The difference is simple. Maternity bras are worn during pregnancy to help with the changing breast size, while nursing bras are worn after childbirth as they make breastfeeding convenient.

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Why Should A Feeding Mother Avoid Under-wire Bra?

Health consultants recommend staying away from the under-wire bra for at least the first six months after delivery. Why? Well, milk production tends to be high during the first few months due to hormonal conditions. After six months, the production depends more on how much milk the baby needs [10].

If you are using an under-wire bra, then simply consider two aspects. Is it comfortable or uncomfortable? If it is uncomfortable, avoid using it. Do you feel that the milk supply is getting affected? Then avoid using the under-wire bra and choose a maternal bra. Let your experience guide you in this aspect.

You have to find out what helps you and what doesn't serve your purpose. When choosing anything, ensure that it is comfortable and doesn't add additional pressure on your shoulders and chest. Also, the blood circulation should be smooth. Your gynaecologist can offer you more tips.

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On A Final Note…

Once milk production begins, the support of a well-fitting bra is important. Make sure you are comfortable and avoid a bra that is too tight and puts too much pressure on your breasts may result in sore breasts due to plugged ducts.