Most people aren’t sure if they should wear a bra during labor. While no choice has to be final, as a nurse who has seen a LOT of patients labor, I can tell you what most people do, so let’s talk about it.
Before we get going — hello, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse®. I’ve been a nurse since 1997 and I have been at the bedside for thousands of births over 20 years as a labor nurse — plus I had three of my own. So, I’m an expert on bras during labor
Should You Wear a Bra in Labor?
I recommend you wear whatever you normally sleep in. If you prefer to sleep in a bra, you will likely want to wear one during labor. If you prefer not to wear a bra when you sleep, then not wearing one during labor should be fine.
But, I do think you should bring one just in case, and I have some tips on what kind to bring — so keep reading!
BTW, wearing bra in labor is one of the easiest things to learn about labor — come join me in here to easily get prepared for the rest of it!
Why You Might Want to Wear a Bra in Labor
Before we get started on this — this is not a choice to make until you get close to being in labor. Towards the end of pregnancy your breasts will change more and more and you may find yourself needing the support of a bra that you did not need previously.
Wearing a bra has two things going for it:
- Support — obviously, if it hurts to not wear a bra, it’s better to have one on
- Coverage — Most people choose to not wear underwear (more on that coming) but having bra on at least covers that area, and some people prefer that.
Why You Wouldn’t Want a Bra On During Labor
Labor can make you very hot, and you want to attempt to be as comfortable during labor as possible. So, for many people that’s with a bra off.
If you’re intersted in “behind the scenes” tips — come join my newsletter that’s tailored to just where you are at:
Which Do Providers Prefer? Bra on or Off During Labor?
I do not care at all, and your doctor really doesn’t care. We do have a few things we prefer:
- If possible, no metal. Metal can be an issue if you are rushed for an emergency cesarean, so if you don’t have metal in it, that’s better. No underwire is a big win (and plastic hooks if you have hooks at all).
- Don’t love it – there’s always a chance we will have to cut it off (so rare, but I have seen happen a few times), so we’d prefer it’s not your most favorite (or most expensive)
- One other thing I love are the removable straps, so if we have to change your IV lines it makes it SUPER easy.
That all being said — we will work with whatever you bring us. Don’t worry about your providers!
Oh, and don’t miss my post on what to wear during labor:
Best Bras to Wear During Labor:
As a note, I have seen THOUSANDS of bras on and bras off during labor. I’ve seen which ones patients love, and which ones patients beg me to help them get off during labor. I’m going to share a few that I think fit needs and I hope you find something you’ll find helpful:
I do recommend everyone have a bra in their labor bag, whether they plan to wear one or not — boobs are affected a lot by the hormones that get labor going, so your choice may change. Which is easy to do!
Best Bra for Coverage:
I have seen a LOT of patients wear something like this during labor and LOVE it.
They feel like they’re covered up (I’ve actually had patients wear just that without a gown) and supported — but not strapped down.
A tank top with a shelf bra is a GREAT option for labor.
Grab my hospital packing list while you’re thinking about what to put in your bag:
Best Bra for Support
A lot of women love wearing a sports bra during labor. Here are a few with the perks I think for each one:
- I love how the straps can be adjusted on this one (it can be hard to visualize, but once you have an IV in we have to thread your bra up and over all the lines, so being able to un-do the straps can be really nice).
- This one looks a bit more pretty and seems VERY supportive. It also comes in fun colors and I’m the type of person who thinks that helps my day go better.
- This one seems ultra-comfortable.
- I like the front open option, makes it easier to take off yourself during labor, or when you want to breastfeed (especially under a gown).
- This one seems super comfortable, the price is right and a TON of great reviews.
Best Bra for Breastfeeding After Birth
If you’re planning to breastfeed most often we try to get baby to breast within the first hour after birth. So, a nursing bra can be really handy. BUT a lot of people also don’t have a bra on during labor, and then breastfeed, and then put a nursing bra on once they’re cleaned-up after labor (often after a nap on the postpartum unit).
Here are a few that would be great to wear in labor:
- This one looks really pretty, and has great support. The jelly straps also sound really nice during labor (no one needs bra straps digging into them AND labor pain).
- This crossover bra seems nice.
- These are well loved (and the price is great)
- This one seems to have a lot of support as well.
Fun Fact: The Online Prenatal Class for Couples not only covers BIRTH but also has a bonus video on breastfeeding. It’s perfect for couples who plan to breastfeeding
What To Look for in a Bra for Labor
First off, you want to buy a bra that fits during your last few weeks of pregnancy. If you’re six months along buy your bra for labor, it may not fit the way it did a few months ago. Something to keep in mind. Buying one that also has some stretch also helps in case you grow a bit too.
If you go into labor unexpectedly, I’d just make sure you have a bra with you in the hospital, or throw in one that fits now. You’ll be fine.
Those removable straps are really are nice. I know it’s the nurse in me saying it, but I know I’ve had patients so glad that was the bra they brought. Also I have a whole post on IV’s during labor that you might find interesting.
Low price is a must when you’re bringing things to the hospital. Expensive labor gowns, fancy slippers and even labor pillows always make me nervous. You just never know what is going to get on them or in what condition they’ll be afterwards. I don’t recommend bringing anything you’re super attached to into the labor room other than your partner.
Speaking of partners, getting prepared together is WAY more supportive than any bra. Come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples where we prepare BOTH of you in just a few hour!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.