Friday, October 3, 2008

Sports bras for nursing women

That's my title. And my post is...where are they?

By trying on a gazillion nursing bras at a boutique shop, I finally determined my real size right now. For those of you playing along at home, it's 36I. Yes, I as in I can't believe how big my boobs are.

My old sports bras from days of yore (as in, pre-breastfeeding) are not cutting it. Or, that is to say, they cut too deeply. I'm not trying to be difficult -- I'm not looking for a sports bra with nursing flaps or anything so convenient. I just want one that's highly supportive without mashing me flat as a pancake (as if such a thing were possible at my chest size).

I thought I'd put it out there on the internet in case anyone has a wonderful suggestion. I've been ordering from, and for everyday wear I have a few Anitas that I lurve.

To wit, this one and this one.

I wrote before about how I was making do with Target underwire nursing bras (in a 40DD) -- they were pretty, supportive, and mostly sorta fit -- but that was before Target discontinued them, at least around where I live, and I checked several Targets in hope. (Oh, look, I could get them online, though not in my favorite pink -- oh, well.) When my old faithfuls started to fall apart (noticeable because my girls started to droop), I checked into Anita, which I'd heard good things about. I shuddered at the price tags, but I didn't see much of an option any other way, and at least I've been mightily pleased with my new, über-expensive boulder holders.

Now, Anita, like pretty much all nursing-bra manufacturers, does not make underwire styles in 36I. No, for the biggest breasts, they hope that soft cup will suffice. Um...hello? So I'm making do with a 36H. I'm a little compressed, but it's workable. Do I wish they made a bra that's supportive in my actual size? Yes. But I will manage. Isn't it something like 80% of women who are wearing the wrong size, anyway? I'm just sticking with the ranks.

So, on to sports bradom...

I was starting ballet classes again, abandoned midway through pregnancy when my hips decided they'd had enough of pretty much everything, and that pliés were right out, and I tried on my old sports bras. Ow! And nursing Mikko before and after was a contortionist act that involved taking the whole strap down my arm and wrenching my breast out of its torture cell.

(My class is adult beginner ballet, before anyone wondered about the incongruity between ballet dancer and big bra size. Most actual ballerinas probably don't wear bras at all, but that's really not an option pour moi.)

I returned to and read the reviews of the largest-size sports bras. There aren't many available, so it didn't take long.

There is, in fact, only one available in my actual size, a Goddess Comfort Zone 2000 (wow to the name), but I was put off by the front closure that one reviewer said popped open during softball practice. Eep! She recommended not wearing it for any sport in which you're leaping about, which rules out ballet.

So, I thought I'd do what I'd done for my everyday wear and make do with a smaller size, compensating decreased cup size with increased band width. But 36H gave me just two styles, and the additional style, a LaBreeza, didn't have rave reviews. Everyone was unhappy with the support, and that was the whole reason I needed a sports bra -- to keep my chest from hitting me in the chin during changements and jetés.

Then on to 38G, which was my mistake. I decided on another Goddess, the 5056 (no inspiring name this time), and waited patiently for it to ship out of backorder. When it finally arrived, it turned out it wouldn't even fasten in the back. I should have gone at least 40G. But it didn't matter, because I hated the style. I swear, it went up to my neck. My leotard, while tastefully cut, would show half my bra if I wore that.

Back went my Goddess, and now I have a credit at biggerbras but no confidence that I'll ever find a good sports bra: supportive without being constrictive, and at least mildly attractive.

So, that's my sports-bra opera. Can you hear me singing my sad aria about bouncing boobs and mangled mammaries?

For now I'm making do with my super-tight sports bras and assuming I'll stretch them out with use.

But any better ideas would be more than welcome. As would any petitioning of nursing-bra manufacturers to take pity on women with large chest sizes before breastfeeding and thereby huuuge chest sizes after. More options, please!


Kathryn said...

I was so hoping someone had left some reccommendations! I laughed out loud several times reading this!
Did you find a good one?? I am in the same boat and my girls are killing me...

Lauren Wayne said...

No! I still am making do with my old ones from before I was even pregnant. I'm sure I've stretched them out enough now that they kinda fit... I feel so sad for your girls, too. Post back if you find anything good!

Anonymous said...

Try Enell bras... they are made specifically for the larger cup woman.

Liz said...

Okay, well, I'm a 42F (that's DDD). And I want to get back into running - there's a 5k I want to do in a few months. My baby is just 5 months old and I am still solely breastfeeding. Really a compression bra is what I need. BUT, won't compressing the "mothers" decrease the milk supply?

Lauren Wayne said...

Liz: I use compression sports bras and haven't had a problem with milk supply, but I do put them on right before exercising and take them off right after. Since they're too small, that's the only way I can be (barely) comfortable. ekohlby and MeganMeow on this post suggest the same. I'd imagine as long as you don't get plugged ducts or infections that using a compression bra during a short time each day or so wouldn't be a problem, but if you notice anything unwelcome, then consider a bigger bra even if the support isn't as great. At 5 months, you might still experience engorgement over long training runs, so you might need a bigger bra, anyway (if you can find one!), or to stop midway and nurse/express. I guess give it a shot and see how it goes, and let us know if you find a great bra. Good luck with the 5k!

Sarahlynn said...

I'm 30F and I wear a Freya active underwire sports bra. My boobs DO NOT MOVE AT ALL. I -think- they only go up to an H cup, but maybe you could wear a slightly larger band size?

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