Sunday, 27 September 2015

Transitioning Out of Nursing Bras: Part I

If you follow me on twitter you may have caught some of my rants on recent bra woes as I find myself attempting to progress into "proper bras" after almost two years of wearing maternity and nursing bras. I've managed to wean my son down to only a nursing session first thing in the morning and last thing at night, a level I'm happy with and plan to keep at for as long as possible, and which means I can get back to wearing non-nursing bras during the day time. But this has proved rather problematic.

So let me take you on a little journey through my various attempts to figure out my own size, hopefully this may help any other mamas who are on the same journey as me.

Let's start at the beginning then shall we? A few months ago I figured out that I could actually fit into my 30GG nursing bras. This was exciting because "YEY! My uncomfortably large breasts are shrinking!" but also because I had a rather nice Bravado nursing bra alongside the Freya Deco Wireless Plunge that I hadn't been able to wear ever since my milk came in a postpartum. How great was my disappointment then, when they went on seamlessly at the beginning of the day, only to find myself spilling out of them within an hour or so of the usual mum-nastics and household upkeep.

The only thing I could imagine was that I wasn't actually a 30GG. So I ran the numbers... and they were confounding. When measured I found myself to have a snug 30" underbust and a 37" bust. Using the ol' reliable and ultra basic method for figuring out one's bra size (each inch subtracted between the two equals a cup size) that would have put me in a 30F. The A Bra That Fits calculator was slightly more helpful, suggesting I was a 30G/GG, but this didn't solve my conundrum of why I was then spilling out of 32G sized bras.

So this brings me to my main point of this post, being that online calculators don't work well at the best of times and definitely do not work when figuring out your bra size after over a year of breastfeeding. This I will demonstrate shortly, but beforehand let me just say that it was at this point that I read an absolutely brilliant article from the Secrets From Your Sister blog. I'd recommend anyone who's currently nursing, has in the past, or simply suspects that they have softer than the average breasts giving it a read. For any who don't know, you can loose a lot of breast density and skin elasticity due to changes in breast composition and size during pregnancy and then nursing. Now I've never had particularly firm breasts so this has now left me with very bottom heavy breasts which feel like they really don't have much to them. It was such a relief to finally find some guide lines on how I could go about buying a bra for my "new" breasts".

Which brings me back to the calculators. I thought it would be simple enough to just go back online, input my measurements and then buy a shape recommended by the SFYS post. It did not prove to be quite that easy... I didn't screen shot my original results but here are my current measurements (I've dropped another inch off my bust) inputed into a few of the top bra size calculators you will find while doing a google search.

First up is the 85b calculator. The first two calculators I'm showing here clearly use the +4 method in some way or another. This is the idea that 4" should be added to your underbust measurement and it is this number that should then be subtracted from your bust measurement to find your cup size. This originates from vintage fitting methods when a lack of elastic in the bra band required the extra inches to be added for comfort's sake. Contemporary bra design usually doesn't require this as the amount of stretch available can often lead to a lack of support, especially for larger busts, when the extra inches are added.

As you can see from the 85b calculator their use of this method led them to suggest a 34 band for me. Which would leave only 2" to be subtracted between my measurements, thus putting me in a B cup. 

Just, no.

Moving on to the bra size calculator found on (sounds promising, right?) we find that they have placed me in a UK 34F.  This one is actually the closest to my current bra size in that if I sister size down I reach it. However a 34 band is no where near tight enough to provide adequate support for my breasts.

Finally, we have the A Bra That Fits Calculator devised by the clever ladies who run the subreddit of the same name. This is usually the calculator that I would recommend for those who really refuse to have an instore bra fitting but this time it didn't quite work for me this time around. To be fair, it's only a cup size off the one I have now discovered to work best for me, but it's still got to be said that it didn't work out correctly.

So my little theory as to why my breasts do not obey the rules of typical methods is this: my loss of elasticity and density has led to breasts which sit lower on my body and slightly flatter against my chest. This results in a circumference measurement that's smaller than it "should" be, but once they're piled up high into a regular underwire bra the actual volume is still there so they would spill out of most of the sizes these calculators put me in.

Angry, uncomfortable and just generally fed up I was left with only one thing to do: get fitted in store. And I will detail this experience in my next blog post!

Thanks for reading. x