Finding attractive, comfortable and functional underwear while pregnant and nursing can be a challenge. Tracey Montford, founder of Australian owned CAKE Lingerie has provided her top tips on how to shop for the perfect fitting bra during pregnancy and nursing including a trimester breakdown of what is actually happening to the breasts during this time plus a six-step fitting guide.

A pioneer in highly constructed and beautiful lingerie and sleepwear, CAKE Lingerie is an award-winning global brand popular with celebrities including Pink, Heidi Klum, and Penelope Cruz – and our very own Jackie O and Chrissie Swan. Tracey recently won UK Maternity Brand of the Year at the Inaugural UK Lingerie Awards in addition to the prestigious Parent Tested Parent Approved Award in the US, so you can rest assured that she knows what she is talking about!

“There are six different types of bra tailored to suit a woman’s body shape and requirements based on the stage of her pregnancy. This begins from as early on as 0-3 months, up until she finishes nursing,” says Tracey.

0-3 months – An increase in cup size begins early on in a pregnancy with hormones creating glandular development and leading to engorgement in the first three months. Tracey advises on a stretchy, seamless maternity bra. “This will grow with you and will provide relief as you begin to develop,” she said.

3-6 months – The breast growth will start to slow during this period, however the ribcage will begin to expand. Tracey suggests: “Select a flexible-wire, non-wire or contour bra with six hooks and eyes. This will provide greater support and will allow extension with the body to manage growth.”

6-9 months – Cup-size at this stage will last into the first four weeks of nursing. “Purchase a minimum of three supportive nursing bras providing you with one to wear, one in the wash and one for your drawer. I recommend a flexible-wire, soft cup, contour, or fuller figure bras,” Tracey says.

Nursing – Flexibility is a necessity. Tracey explains: “Your breasts will swell and rapidly change size as they try to regulate milk supply. Use a non-wired, stretchy, seamless maternity bra that grows with you. A comfortable, non-restrictive bra can help avoid complications such as mastitis.”

Tracey’s top 6 tips for maternity underwear shopping

1. Select a bra that fits comfortably to the near-tightest hook to accommodate the ribcage as it expands from the second trimester onwards.

2. The bra should provide good bust support and, importantly, doesn’t flatten or squash your breast. Your breasts should appear separated and fit clearly into each cup.

3. A bra must comfortably fit towards the loosest hook. This will accommodate the ribcage as it contracts to its original size.

4. If you only need to increase your band size, remember to drop a cup size and vice versa. Bra bands are designed relative to body size.

5. Properly fitted flexible-wire bras provide superior, unrestricted support. When selecting one, ensure it sits under and behind the breast tissue.

6. Importantly, your size will most probably vary with each pregnancy. It’s best to be re-sized to ensure you receive the right levels of comfort and support.

Mums-to-be can spend less time in shop fitting rooms by having a play with CAKE Lingerie’s interactive bra fitting guide to see what style best suits. The brand’s online size calculator is also the perfect shopping tool!