As a new mother you are faced with a million choices. Apart from deciding on the colors you want to paint the nursery, you have to make decisions about doctors, car seats, nurturing, diapers, sleep patterns, and breastfeeding, just to name a few. Your decisions about breastfeeding are especially important. If you decide to breastfeed, you'll have to worry about breast pumps and bottles (maybe), but you definitely need to be concerned with getting a nursing bra or two. A good-quality nursing bra will be one of your best and most trusted tools when it comes to breastfeeding.
Like pretty much anything today, nursing bras don't come in a one-type-fits all. To simplify things a little, however, you basically have to category choices, underwire and soft cup (pretty much like regular bras). If you opt for the extra support an underwire bra offers, make sure that the bra you purchase fits all of your breast. Especially because you'll have milk, you need to make sure that your bra doesn't pinch or squeeze the breast unnecessarily. Many women feel more comfortable in soft cup nursing bras, but those don't provide as much support.
To start with the basics, I'll just briefly explain the difference between a nursing bra and a regular bra. They look like regular bras and have the same functions as a regular with one added component: nursing bras have a flap that opens, allowing you to nurse your child without having to completely strip down. Convenient, no? The key to a good nursing bra is to find a bra that will fit. You should be professionally fitted for a nursing bra, because chances are that your cup size nursing won't be the same as when you're not pregnant or nursing. Having a bra that fits is even more important when you're nursing, because you don't want to compromise your milk in anyway. A bra that is too small could cut off milk ducts or lead to mastitis.
When you go shopping for a nursing bra, buy three to five bras if you can, and don't go shopping any earlier than four weeks before you deliver. All throughout your pregnancy, your breasts will grow larger, and by the time you're eight months along, they should be up to nursing size. Make sure that the bras you get are easy to use and adaptable to your lifestyle. Some nursing bras are hand-wash only, or something ridiculous like that. Life with a newborn is stressful enough—don't add something else to your plate by having to hand wash your bras.
So as you enter (or continue) in the scary world of parenting, remember the importance of nursing bras, and take the time to find the right bra for you!