Updated: May 21, 2020
One of the roadblocks to exercise during pregnancy and beyond is finding comfortable, well-fitting clothes. This includes bras. Among my clients, my friends and within every pregnancy and postpartum Facebook group ever (it seems), I hear people asking for recommendations on sports bras for nursing/pumping parents. I asked this question, too. So I did some homework. I researched nursing bras that offered medium- to high-impact support for the DD and greater cup size crowd. And here I will share my impressions of a selection of nursing sports bras that advertise medium to high support for larger sized breasts.
What features make a good nursing bra? I’m looking for three things.
First and foremost: access to boobs. Manufactures will use one of three strategies to provide nursing access. They’ll offer Velcro straps fed through a fabric loop, Velcro straps fed through a plastic loop, or plastic clips to provide nursing access. They have their pros and cons. Velcro and fabric can’t break, but they’re a pain to work with one-handed. I personally prefer plastic despite the small possibility of it breaking or wearing out.
Second: support. Nursing boobs tend to be somewhat bigger boobs and there’s more to making a high-support sports bra than just making a bigger version of the same low-support design.
Third: rib cage mobility. People who recently gave birth typically have a restricted rib cage. A sports bra that can spread the load well and provide support across the whole garment rather than just the chest strap is going to feel a lot nicer and do a better job supporting postpartum core rehabilitation.
I reviewed bras produced by Brooks, Senita Athletics, SheFit and Born Primitive. This is by no means an exhaustive review, but covers some of the most popular choices that are on the market right now.
Size Range: 30-40 C-E
Support Level: High
Standout Features: Best combination of high support and comfort
Cons: Velcro straps loop through bra fabric, difficult to manipulate with one hand.
Overall impression: Although not a particularly attractive bra, it continues to offer gold standard support at larger sizes and nursing access that is a little clunky but manageable (and really, it’s not a custom built nursing bra so I’ll take it). You can definitely run and jump in this one!
*Brooks offers several other bras with the front-strap Velcro closures that make these bras so nice for nursing or pumping. Jubralee is available in cupsizes B-DD and the Rebound Racer is available for B-E cup sizes. They have a few that are recommended for smaller cup sizes and low to medium support, so take a look if that is for you. I did not try them out!
Senita Athletics Perfect Latch**
Size Range: 32-36 A-DDD(E), 38 A-DD
Support Level: Mid
Standout Features: Comfortable, affordable, plastic clips for drop-down access for nursing are easy to manipulate.
Cons: Doesn’t offer a ton of boob separation so it produces a bit of a uniboob (technical term!).
Overall impression: I love this bra for an everyday bra or for low/medium impact strength based workouts. I wouldn’t run in it. Not the best body shaping bra, but a great combination of support and comfort at a good price.
Senita Athletics Go With the Flow Nursing Sports Bra**
Size Range: 32-38 A-DDD(E)
Support Level: Mid-range
Standout Features: Comfortable, affordable, plastic clips for drop down nursing access are easy to manipulate. Cell phone pocket in the back of the bra!
Cons: Limited color selections, slightly awkward body shaping.
Overall impression: A fantastic choice for a medium impact nursing bra with really easy to manage clips and a fun cell-phone pocket. This bra produces a little bit less of a “uniboob” than the Go With the Flow, but the shape is just a little bit strange. For that reason, I do slightly prefer the Perfect Latch to this one. A great choice for strength-based workouts. I wouldn’t recommend for running.
** Senita offers an additional sports bra, the Speed Feed Nursing Bra that is better suited to A-B cups. I did not try this one, but you should know it is available!
Born Primitive Milk and Muscles Bra
Size Range: Not explicitly stated, but reports that the bras are sized up a cup size per standard size (S, M, L, XL) and built from their most supportive bras. Customer service indicated these should support at least a DD.
Support Level: Low
Standout Features: Cute colors and straps. For a smaller bust, a really nice looking choice!
Cons: Thin fabric and very small removable pads mean you can see a very visible circle at the center of each boob, even through clothing.
Overall impression: I was a little dissapointed by the support offered by this one. Support is certainly not sufficient for DD, and I can imagine it is a bra best worn by the A-C wearers.
SheFit Ultimate Sports Bra
Size Range: 28-50 A-I (!!!)
Support Level: Through the roof
Standout Features: Cute bra, wide color selection, extreme adjustability and supportive up to the largest band and cup sizes. Love that the adjustable Velcro closure is fed through a plastic D-ring, instead of fabric as in the Brooks and Born Primitive designs. It’s much more user friendly!
Cons: Can take a little while to get the adjustment quite right, tightest on ribcage and as the most compressive of the bras I tried, it can be a little intense on sore nipples.
Overall Impression: A nice option for a high impact bra at larger cup sizes. I would save this one for the high-impact workouts if another option is available, simply because it can be restrictive. It's going to be great at what it was designed to do and it's available through an amazing size range.
My top pick for high impact remains the Brooks Juno, if it’s available in your size. The SheFit
Ultimate Sports Bra is a close runner up and stellar for larger sizes. One thing I love about the Brooks Juno is that the support is well-distributed throughout the whole bra, so you can size up the band and down the cup and maintain support. For example, I’m a 34 DDD, but I can wear a 36 DD. As a recently postpartum parent, this is really valuable because ribcage mobility is so restricted after having a baby. It’s much more comfortable for me to wear a looser band. I find more of the support in the SheFit comes from the band, and the band really needs to be cinched down to keep boobs from drooping through. It feels tighter and a bit restrictive (to me). If you are looking for a high impact, larger-sized bra, I would encourage you to order both and try them out. Both companies offer free returns and exchanges.
For mid-impact, Senita is a no-brainer. These bras are comfortable enough to wear all day, which is great if you don’t have time to change your clothes before or after a a workout. I also love the super easy plastic drop-down clips and the cute styling.
For folks with DDD or greater cup size or a larger diameter rib-cage (greater than 36 or 38 band size), consider the SheFit. This bra was built for you and it doesn’t mess around!
For folks with C or smaller cup size, consider the Senita Speed Feed Nursing Bra (which I didn’t personally try out) or the Born Primitive Milk and Muscles bra.
Update May 2020: Since initially publishing this post, I have learned of two additional manufacturers that produce really intriguing nursing sports bras for larger breasts and higher impact activities. I have not personally tested these, but if you would like a few more options, check these out!
Sweat and Milk offers a comprehensive line of nursing sports bras, at least two of which are geared towards supporting bigger busted people in higher impact activities like running and CrossFit. Look for the Chloé 3 Running Nursing Sports Bra (sized S to XL and accommodating band sizes 30-40 and cup sizes A-F) and Venice High Impact Full Coverage Nursing Sports Bra (sized XS to XL and accommodating band sizes 32-42 and cup sizes B-F).
Betts Fit offers a single sports bra with nursing features that supports sizes 32-38 C-F. It's built with some neat features that enable you to change the amount of compression desired based on the activities you are participating in.
That’s it folks! If you have other bras you think I should know about, please comment below or send me a message! If you found this helpful or know someone who would appreciate it, please share the link!
Disclaimer: I purchased these bras myself and all opinions are mine. I do not receive any commissions from these recommendations. Please feel free to shoot a message over if you have additional questions about my experience with any of them.
Additional resources to support your postpartum return to fitness:
Take a deep dive into HOW to dial in your breathing strategy to feel stronger and more supported in your exercise, kick-start your postpartum recovery and manage pelvic health symptoms. Download a copy of The No B.S. Guide to Breathing for a STRONG Pregnancy and Postpartum.
My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.
Contact me with questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I work with people in-person (Seattle's Eastside: Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland and surrounding areas) and online to develop personalized pregnancy and postpartum exercise plans.