Should You Sleep in a Nursing Bra If You're Breastfeeding?

Tips for Choosing a Bra to Wear to Bed

breastfeeding mother in bed with baby

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To sleep or not to sleep in a nursing bra ... that is the question. And, the answer falls into the "it's your call" category. Some people find that sleeping in a nursing bra is more comfortable than going without; others welcome a break from the bra.

Factors to Consider

When making a decision about whether or not to wear a nursing bra while sleeping, think about how each of these affects you.

Breast Size

If you have small breasts, wearing a bra is a matter of preference. But if you have large, full breasts, a bra can feel more supportive and comfortable. Even if you have smaller breasts, during the first month or so after your baby is born, when your breast milk is adjusting, you may find that you appreciate the support of nursing bra overnight.

Leaking Breast Milk

If your breasts don't leak very much, you don't have to worry about wearing a bra. But, if you have very leaky breasts, you need something to hold your nursing pads in place. This will save you from waking up in a puddle of breast milk and having to change the sheets every morning.

Comfort

Comfort is important! The last thing you need is to be uncomfortable when you're trying to get some much-needed rest. If you have smaller breasts, it may be more comfortable to go without a bra, and if you have larger breasts, it may be more comfortable to wear a bra. A comfortable, soft, cotton nursing bra is a good choice for both day and night, and a sports bra style may also make a comfortable bra for nighttime use.

Care for Nursing Breasts at Night

Get the best night's sleep you can by choosing a nursing bra that works well for you. If you do choose to wear a bra at night, make sure it's comfortable and fits you well. Avoid underwire bras or any bra that's tight and puts pressure on your breasts. Tight bras and underwires can cause plugged milk ducts or mastitis.

Bra Alternatives

Lily Padz are perfect for braless sleep. These breast pads are made from comfortable, flexible, breathable, medical-grade silicone. They stick right to your breasts, so you don't need a bra to keep them in place. 

Another option, if you're worried about your breasts leaking overnight, is to wear a nursing tank top with a built-in shelf bra to hold your nursing pads in place. For example, Japanese Weekend maternity camisoles are soft, comfortable and stretch well to accommodate breast fluctuations, especially during the night.

Will Sleeping in a Bra Prevent Sagging?

Wearing a bra to sleep in general, not just while you're breastfeeding, is believed to help prevent sagging breasts. When you wear a bra, both during the day and overnight, it supports the structure of your breasts, especially the Cooper's ligaments. These ligaments give your breast its shape, but the extra weight that breast milk adds to your breasts can pull and stretch your Cooper's ligaments.

However, while wearing a bra may help, it cannot completely prevent sagging. Saggy breasts are the result of a combination of factors including the number of pregnancies, weight, and heredity.

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  • Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding: A Guide For The Medical Profession, Seventh Edition. Mosby. 2011.

  • Riordan J, Wambach K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.