Sunday, January 03, 2010

Good Bra Hunting

I have a bone to pick with – well, I don't really know with whom to pick it. The baby/mother industry? Designers? Manufacturers? Whomever. The bone is this: the sorry state of affairs when it comes to nursing bras.

Here's the thing, nursing bra makers. I'm having a baby. I've spent the past 9+ months feeling unattractive in all kinds of new and exciting ways, from breaking out to watching stretch marks creep across my swollen abdomen. I've watched as my once-compact and tidy breasts have ballooned into unrecognizable mammary freak shows. This will only get worse when my body recognizes that the baby is out and they become rock hard and painful as hell and start spraying milk every which way. I know this.

So what makes you think, after all of that, the thing I want most to put on is a suntan-pantyhose colored, shapeless, poor excuse for 'lingerie' bra that screams "I am a shadow of my former, feminine self?" Frankly, my boobs are not amused.

Let me start with the fact that it is inordinately challenging to find a nursing bra with underwire. Even in my 34B days, I never imagined buying a bra without it; in fact, I don't think I've worn one since my pre-pubescent training bra days. Sagging is never a good look, so why would I want to encourage it? And why, oh why, would I choose this moment in time – when my boobs need more support than ever – to decide to forgo that added bit of oomph? It truly baffles me. The only time I can imagine wearing a non-underwire bra while nursing is while I'm sleeping (Because yes, I will be wearing a bra to bed for the next several months. These boobs are not going down without a fight.), and even then I'm on the fence.

Also, apparently these misguided bra makers think that when the babies leave our bodies, they take with them any aesthetic drive as well. I suppose they think that by the time the baby is delivered, what with the several months of beauty-killing pregnancy side effects preceding, we will have thrown our hands up in disgust and surrender. That we'll take whatever we can get, so long as it's practical. Would it kill them to add a little lace or other cuteness to these things? I have found exactly two good-looking nursing bras so far: one of them is by Elle Macpherson and, shockingly, has no underwire (et tu, Elle?) and the other is $120. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to spend that much on a bra it better be wearable for more than a few months (and no, I don't intend to wear nursing bras when I'm not actually nursing) and have a fancy, European-sounding label inside.

The few that I've found that are passable, that don't make me look like a 1920s Sears catalog model when I put them on, somehow transport my boobs into odd locations, shapes and configurations on my chest. How and why they do this, I do not know, but I do know that my particular boobs were not meant to be stretched to opposite sides of my torso or to pop out, cone-like, a la Madonna's early 1990s Jean-Paul Gaultier moment.

You know, I hate to make this into this big, symbolic issue and go all soapboxy on you, but I really do resent this thing about mothers in our society. We poke fun at how drab moms become, how they lose their sense of self when they pop out the baby. We act like it's impossible that a woman who's given birth could simultaneously care about the baby enough to jump in front of a moving train for it and also happen to care that her hair is brushed, mascara applied and she's outfitted in something flattering. Witness the Saturday Night Live commercial parody hawking mom jeans. It's all very simple-minded and I think is a movement led by the same people who suggest that philanderers like Tiger Woods are biologically incapable of monogamy (don't even get me started on him).

I think these same people are getting messages to the bra makers, because they're making awful bras, and have I mentioned how unhappy this makes me? And please, oh please, do not use the "time" excuse for this. I've been told in many different ways now how little time I will have once my baby is here, how little time for showering and dressing and grooming and generally doing anything for myself – and how that won't even bother me. (I found this patronizing while going through infertility and I still find it patronizing now – another topic for another time.) I get that having another person to look after will take time. I know I'll be sleep deprived and covered in milk and spitup and generally feel pretty unlike myself. But it takes the same amount of time to put on an ugly bra as it would one that had a flattering fit, kept my boobs off my knees and looked pretty. After all, is there ever a time when a woman needs a little pretty in her life more?

PS If you've found something I've missed, do tell.


E said...

Please...please wait to buy a nursing bra until after the baby comes!!! Your size will be sooo different (smaller around the ribs and bigger everywhere else).

Trust me!!!

GeekByMarriage said...


I laughed my ass off reading this because it was the exact things that went through my head. Esp. the torpedo tit look they foist on us.

missing_one said...

yeah, it doesn't get better until you've lost the weight and are done nursing. oh well.
I do have to say, these are the most comfortable ones. (I have problems wearing bras when I'm pregnant because I itch all over), just order what fits you girth wise now and then order up one cup size. These I think are only S M and L.
When I was nursing last time, the latches helped but I also LOVED the comfort of the sportsbra

Amanda said...

I'm with you. I settled for some cheapos the other day cause I don't want to invest until I see what happens to these things after the milk comes in (so far, they haven't barely grown at all).

Amanda at Manana Banana recommended Bella Materna bras in a comment to me the other day and they look pretty nice, and have underwire options. Definitely check them out.

anofferingoflove said...

this post made me laugh, i am SO there with you. my nursing bras are soooo saggy...ive gotta find something better before i go back to work!

PJ said...

I hate bras in general, and think they must be all made by men. The same with high heels and probably panty hose.

Kristin said...

I ended up buying Bravada nursing bras online from Lady Grace. I would second the tip to wait until after the baby is born because you don't want to get stuck with several bras that don't fit.

I did buy underwire nursing bras, which turned out to be a big mistake. I had lots of problems with clogged ducts while wearing them.

Megs said...

I have been needing new bras too...and well, have pretty much put it all off for longer than I care to mention at this point :)

Wasnt sure when I should buy nursing...I have been told to buy both before and after baby comes. I would have to agree with you though, they are definitely NOT flattering. Not looking forward to the saggy boob syndrome :(

kirke said...

I've heard that underwire is bad when nursing, so I've gone without, but I agree with does make everything so much better and nursing bras ARE ugly.

I'm really looking for a nursing tank right now. I live in fear that someone will accidentally see my post baby belly when I am nursing.

Anonymous said...

As a woman with rather large boobs, pregnancy or not, I just like to say that the bras for large breasts (and small back! I am a 34DD), are hideous, boring, what I like to call "A wall of boob" bras,and that's when you aren't even pregnant! I've bought one $120 bra, and it's pretty, but, my usual wall of boob bras already cost $75! Oy.

Erika said...

Good luck! I have no advice to give, I end up bawling And bleeding every time I wear an underwire bra for more than an hour. Hope you find something that works for you and that's flattering... And pretty!

JamieD said...

I couldn't agree more. As big of a movement as breastfeeding is, I was shocked at the shitty selection of nursing bras. It is just wrong.

Queenie. . . said...

I also rant about the people who expect you to lose your identity when you give birth. Just sent a scathing email to a condescending (childless) coworker yestderday, in fact.

I just ordered a nursing tank and two bras. I'll let you know what I think of them.

Anonymous said...

I'm clueless about the nursing bra thing, too. I bought an underwire one from Playtex - but whether it fits or works after I deliver is another story! I bought it to wear in the hospital, and I'll pick out whatever else I need when I get home.

I'm horrified by the prices! I guess with leakage (and even messy, hungry babies) that we're supposed to have lots of maternity bras on hand. Even at $20 a crack, I'm NOT happy.

P.S. I'm glad to hear that baby is getting into position! Yeah!

areyoukiddingme said...

Walmart used to carry a nursing bra with underwire. However, my 34Bs only grew to a 34B+, so I may not be the right person to advise you. The most convenient, supportive, attractive undergarment I found was actually a nursing tank from Target. They must use a LOT of spandex, and with nursing pads, there's no show through. And it didn't even ride up.

Anonymous said...

I randomly came across your blog and felt sympathetic so I did a google search and found this. I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for or not but hopefully it could help.

This site has some under-wire ones too. I think you basically just have to search online because the stuff in stores will generally suck.