I’m really excited to share this guest-post with you today, because I think that many of you will find it useful AND because it’s written by one of my real-life best friends! Sarah is teaching us how to convert a regular bra into a nursing bra. You can make the conversion in less than an hour and for less than $5! I love her back-story as to why she decided to figure out how to do this, but if you are here strictly for the tutorial, scroll down to the photos! * This post contains affiliate links *
Bra shopping… I hate it. I don’t know anybody who who doesn’t dislike it. Even on the best day it’s a frustrating experience that leaves my arms and sides sore from all the on-and-off strap pulling.
Now add pregnancy.
In the space of one calendar year (which included 1 miscarriage, 1 newly under-active thyroid, and one 41 week pregnancy) I bought 4 completely different sized bras. Four. And I waited as log as possible (as. long. as. possible.) before getting a new one, so let’s just say they weren’t consecutive sizes.
Have you ever noticed that there are about 7 thousand different combinations of bra companies, styles, and sizes? Just for your regular-wear-every-day-don’t-need-special-straps-or-anything bras. Women of every shape and size have a reasonable expectation of finding and being able to afford at least one bra that fits correctly.
Now add pregnancy.
Your choices shrink to a handful of manufacturers, most of which are only available online. How is a woman who is a different size and shape every day of her pregnancy and for several months thereafter supposed to be able to buy a bra online and get something that not only fits ON her but also gives sufficient support and comfort (let’s not talk boob comfort for preggo boobs… most women I know would claim there’s no such thing!) without cutting off the all-important circulation for healthy milk production and mastitis prevention?!?!?
When my son was 2 months old my mom took me nursing-bra shopping. We waited that long to make sure ‘the girls’ would be the same approximate size for the rest of my time nursing so we wouldn’t have to go through this again.
We skipped the typical places that didn’t have bras in my size (I needed something like a 38 or 40 G… not super unreasonable given that I started as a 36 D before pregnancy/milk/etc.) and went straight to the specialty lingerie stores advertising extended sizes. There were 3 in Houston that also advertised nursing bras. Houston, the fourth largest city in the US. You’d think that if I’m going to find something to fit, I’d be able to find it here. And while I’m not trim, I’m certainly not the largest woman to ever birth a baby and want to nurse. Not only did they not have bras in my size (WHY do most bra companies, even the ones that are nursing bra specialists, stop at a DD cup size? What do the women do who started at a DD before pregnancy do?!?) but they also were super squeamish about my baby coming in the store with me. Ugh.
After an extremely frustrating day that made me feel like a giant leaking cow we finally paid over $120 EACH for two non-nursing bras at a specialty store that sent them away for 2 weeks to “customize” them into nursing bras.
Now I’m a broke giant leaking cow.
And do you know what my first thought was when I saw the bras two weeks later? “Wow, I could have done that.” And right there I vowed I would never buy an outrageously priced bra to have it customized or an ill-fitting nursing bra again. Never again.
So this time around, I didn’t.
This time, I went to the bra store that I usually buy from. And bought bras that fit comfortably. I even bought them on sale, paying about $60 for FOUR of them.
Over the next few days I modified them into nursing bras that are more comfortable, sturdier, and more wearable (lightly lined cups work WAY better for perkiness, leakiness and hiding nursing pads). Each conversion took me between 60 and 90 minutes, including taking pictures and re-pacifying the baby (to buy me a few more minutes to finish) and looking at the demolished $120 bra I used as an example to figure out a reasonable method including improvements.
Total investment: 90 minutes and less than $5!
Granted, I already had a sewing machine, needle, and thread. I think this would be a little difficult to hand sew, but it’s pretty easy with a machine.
So… hopefully my experience has made you chuckle and this tutorial with save you both time shopping and money spent on your next round of nursing bras.
How to Convert Your Favorite Bra Into a Nursing Bra:
1 regular bra that actually fits you
1 bra extender (2 parallel hooks&eyes for each bra – available at most sewing stores, WalMart and Amazon)
- Using scissors or seam ripper, remove hook end of bra extender. Don’t just cut it off – you want the folded part to make a little pocket to go over the part of the bra you’re about to cut.
- Connect the hooks to the bottom metal eye and cut each row apart. Trim the length to be only 2 metal eyes.
- Cut the strap of the bra where it meets the top of the cup.
- Fold the little pocket part of the hook over the cut on the bra cup. Be sure the hook is ‘hooking’ toward the inside of the bra/toward your body.
- Zig-zag stitch around all three open edges of the hook piece. This will secure the hook to the bra cup as well as prevent unraveling on the cut side of the hook fabric. Do your best to get this little guy on straight (or at the angle that the strap was coming off the bra cup) or it’ll be less comfortable when you wear it.
- Zig-zag stitch across the raw edge of the strap.
- Center the metal eye piece on the strap so that the bottom metal eye is as low as possible without extending past the strap. (Note: Double check to make sure you’re sewing it on to the front of the strap!)
- Zig-zag around all four edges of the metal-eye piece. I recommend also reinforcing (with a straight stitch) across the strap where the metal eye sticks into the fabric… get as close as possible to try to actually sew the hook in itself… in the overpriced fancy bras I have, these metal eyes started to come out after a couple of months of on-off-on-off for nursing)
- Check all seams for threads or anything that might be itchy and trim it now!
Note: I was worried that without tethering the strap to the base of the cup that I would lose the strap during nursing. That’s only happened twice in the 27 months I’ve spent nursing so far. It seems that the shirt sleeve/collar holds the strap relatively in place.
(Paula, here again!) Thank you Sarah, for this awesome tutorial!!!
So now you just have to find a bra that fits, the good thing is, you have so many more options and you can even fall back on your old favorite brands!
Are you ready to give this a try yourself?
More essentials for breastfeeding moms here.