How To Measure Yourself For A Nursing Bra

bodysilkseamless nursing braDid you know that most women are wearing bras that don’t fit properly? Greater than 70% of women are wearing the wrong size or style of bra for their bodies. No wonder we hate them so much!! And when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is even more important to have a properly fitted bra. An ill-fitting bra can cause many problems like blocked ducts, mastitis, milk supply problems and discomfort for new moms. If you don’t have a place that you can go to for a proper fitting, then use the instructions below to fit yourself. It is probably easier if you have someone help you take the measurements.

To take your measurements, take off your shirt and make sure you have your best fitting bra on. Make sure that the bra isn’t tight in the cups so that you are able to get an accurate measurement.

To get your band size, measure around your body but ABOVE your breasts. This should be a SNUG measurement. Make sure that the measuring tape is parallel to the floor when taking this measurement. Round up to the nearest even number. Now take the same measurement UNDER your breasts. Round up to the nearest even number. Take the LARGER of these two measurements. This will give you your band size.

To get your cup size, measure around your body and across your breasts at the largest part (with a bra on). This measurement should be a fitted, but loose measurement. The difference between this number and your band size will give you your cup size. 1 inch = 1 cup. For instance, if you are a 34 band and you measure 37 across your breasts, then you are a 34C.

Now, this technique isn’t perfect and I have seen some moms who just don’t measure their size no matter how many times they take their measurements – so I always recommend that you also look at what size bra you have been wearing. If your measurements are similar to the size you have been wearing, then they are probably pretty accurate (but remember, the size you are wearing may not be the correct size for you – so they should be close, but don’t need to be exact). But if your measurements are way off, then you are better off using your current size as a gauge of what your bra size should be and then using trial and error to figure out what size bra to order. I once had a client who measured a 36DD but actually wore a 36H. No matter how many times she got measured, she always came out at a 36DD, but clearly, that size bra was not going to work for her. It is rare to have the measurements be this far off, but it does happen occasionally.

Now that you know your size, it’s time to shop for a bra. Unfortunately, not all bras are created equally and even though you know what your size should be, with some bras, you may need to order a different size to get a proper fit. In our boutique store, we always give sizing and fit recommendations for bras that don’t run true-to-size. You can use those recommendations to help you to get the perfect bra!

Do you have tips for taking your measurements? Do you have a favorite nursing bra? We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment and share your experiences with our readers.

13 comments to How To Measure Yourself For A Nursing Bra

  • Great article and correct to draw this issue to people’s attention. An ill fitting bra can cause back pain which can transfer to other parts of the body which can make life miserable. Your bra size changes throughout the year are your weight and fitness ebb and flow. It’s worth making a bra size check part of your routine.

  • […] time to get a new one. If you don’t know what size you are, then you should get measured or measure yourself to find out what size you should be wearing now. Many women will go up one full cup size after the […]

  • […] sizing can be very confusing because a 34C and 36C are not the same cup size. Once you know your measurements and what size you should be, then you will have to apply that knowledge to the different fit of […]

  • Judy, I love you. You’re always full of such helpful information for nursing moms, I don’t know what we would do without you.
    .-= Slee´s last blog ..What’s that Smell? =-.

  • Ruth

    Measuring this way gives me too large of a band size – the band will ride up and the cups sag. But if I split the difference, I end up with a band size that fits.:-)

  • Thanks for the feedback Ruth. Sometimes if you have broad shoulders, the top measure will give too wide of a band. And the measurements on by no way perfect – but they give a good guide to get mamas started in finding a great nursing bra. Thanks for adding your tip in – it might be helpful for other mamas too!! — Judy

  • […] is ideal -but if you aren’t nearby a place that can properly measure you, just follow these simple instructions from Judy’s blog, Mommy News and Views, and you will be ready to […]

  • Nerd-Faced Gurl

    I always thought that “70% of all women are wearing the wrong sized bra” business was ridiculous. How do you define the “wrong” size? This should mean wearing an ill-fitting, uncomfortable bra, but it seems to me that these “bra-fit specialists” just want to measure a woman and only sell her bras based on that measurement. I consistently measure a 40DD. I actually wear a 38G. I have had salespeople argue with me about this; I even had one imply that I had gained weight and “stretched” my 38 band to a 40! Needless to say, I don’t even talk to salespeople or specialists anymore; I just try on bras until I find one that fits, is supportive and comfortable.

    Thank you for not implying that there’s something wrong with a woman who needs a different size than she measures.

  • @Nerd-Faced Gurl,

    Thanks for your comment – it is frustrating when the measurements don’t line up with what you actually need – but you are not the only one. This happens about 10% of them time (in my experience) – so I always use the measurements as a guide, but also take into consideration what the woman is actually wearing. And then as you know – every bra fits differently and you might wear a 38 in one, 36 in another and a 40 in yet another – so the measurements are really a guide to get your started. From there, it’s trial and error to get a good fit. And yes you are right – wrong size could mean wrong size all-together but it also means a bra that doesn’t offer enough support or isn’t fitting well or is just plain uncomfortable no matter how “well” it fits. I’m sorry you have had bad luck with “bra fitting specialists” in the past. It really is an “art” not a science – and every mom has different preferences for how tight or loose they like their bras to fit – just like with every other garment we wear. Hope that helps — and thanks for coming by and leaving your comment! — Judy

  • […] have been doing a LOT of bra fittings lately! It is such a rewarding feeling to help moms find great supportive bras! But today, I had a […]

  • […] of how it fits (or doesn’t fit) 2) Your measurements – to get them you will need to take three measurements. Please read this article to learn how to measure your self. Please give me the […]

  • Heather Drake

    Measurements: 38, 34, 45
    Current bra: Bravado Supreme 40G
    Complaints: Constantly rides up my back, if I make the straps tighter for more lift, it rides up my back higher & faster
    Status: third baby is almost 8 mos & I have been nursing for almost 6.5years, nonstop
    Desire: nude/neutral color, no under wire, great lift, no riding up my back, no lace, no padding
    Reality: still have 30lbs more to go before I reach my prepregnancy weight

    Do you have an actual store? If so, where?

  • Jen

    above bust: 38
    Below bust: 35
    around bust: 43

    Currently wearing my Motherhood Maternity nursing bra from 1st baby (36DD/E). Center sometimes digs in, straps fall down, boobs spill over the cups even when breasts are empty. I have another one that is a Gilligan O’Malley from Target that is a 38DD that has similar issues, but I don’t have the same spillage. I have a hard time finding the size I need at stores like Target, Motherhood, etc.

    I am currently nursing baby #2 (#1 nursed for 17 1/2 months!)
    I need a bra that has some padding for shape and preferably has underwire for support that doesn’t dig in under the arms as one of my past nursing bras did.

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