Bra Problem Guide

Uneven Breasts

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t have perfectly even breasts. Believe it or not, every woman has one breast that is larger than the other. Some women have a noticeable size difference of a full cup size or even more. There are many different solutions to comfortably fit both sides of your chest or to disguise the difference.

Embrace Your Shape

To fit both sides without filling out the smaller cup, we recommend a Stretch Cup Bra. You can use the shoulder straps to customize the fit on each side. This solution is great for women whose breasts are less than one cup size different on each side. It is also the most convenient solution for uneven breasts.

Try a Little Camouflage

If you would like to make your bust look more even, don’t try to squeeze the larger breast into a cup that is too small. There are plenty of ways to fill in the smaller size to create a more symmetrical silhouette. The easiest solution is to wear a molded cup bra that is fitted to the larger size. Because this type of bra keeps its shape, this will hide a small difference in cup size. If your size difference is more pronounced, you can use a single breast enhancer in the cup to lift the smaller breast.

A great all-in-one solution for women with a smaller cup size is to buy a Padded Bra with removable “cookies” or push-up pads. Simply remove the padding from the larger side. Many modern padded bras come with this option.

Post-Surgical Solutions

Many women have uneven breasts after breast surgery. For women who have had lumpectomies, mastectomies, or simply have a very large difference between their cup size, we recommend specialty breast forms. Mastectomy bras have other advantages for post-surgical women, including fabric designed to be comfortable against sensitive skin and full-coverage styles that support without binding.

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Straps Falling Off Shoulders

Bra straps that constantly fall off your shoulders are an annoying and common bra problem. While it may sound obvious, many women simply do not adjust their bra straps or do not adjust them correctly. Don’t worry about making both of your bra straps the same length. Because everyone has one breast that is larger than the other, you might have to make one strap longer in order to make the straps comfortably snug.

Straps Still Falling?

If you cannot adjust your bra straps to the right length, there are two possible reasons. One problem could be that your bra is too old. Over time, the elastic that is in most bra straps stretches out. To extend the life of your bra, make sure you never put the bra in the dryer, which destroys elastic. Even the best quality bras won’t last more than a year when worn regularly, so don’t torture yourself in a bra that’s past its prime!

The Best Styles for You

If you are having this problem with a new bra, the bra is most likely not the right style for you. Many bras are designed with straps that are wide-set, or far apart from each other. While this style is fashionable, it is definitely not for everyone! Petite women or women with sloped shoulders should make sure to buy bras that have close-set, fully adjustable straps. You can see what kind of strap adjustment a bra has on the Fitting Support section of every item page.

Another solution is to purchase a racer back bra or a convertible bra whose bra straps can criss-cross in the back. These styles have straps that are close-set so they will not fall off during the day.

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Pregnancy & Nursing

Pregnant and nursing women deserve supportive, comfortable nursing bras. If buying maternity and nursing bras for your changing breasts is getting frustrating, you’re not alone! Our guide to maternity bra fitting should help you find your way. Once you know your perfect size, check out our wide selection of top-quality bras at our comprehensive Nursing and Maternity section.

How will my breasts change during pregnancy?

One of the first signs of pregnancy is fuller breasts and let’s just say it doesn’t stop there! While every woman’s body is different, most women go up one to three cup sizes over the course of their pregnancy. Because of your expanding belly, you also need to wear a larger band size while pregnant.

A few days after birth, your milk will “come in”. This is called engorgement. Engorgement is the point when your breasts are the largest.

When you are first nursing, your breast size can change from day to day. Once your baby is nursing on a regular schedule, you will be back to having a constant bra size. Most women return to their pre-pregnancy band size and are up to three cup sizes larger than they were before having a baby.

Because of all these changes, it is important to remeasure yourself often and wear quality maternity bras and nursing bras.

What is a maternity bra?

A maternity bra is a bra that is appropriate for pregnant women. Most maternity bras are specifically designed to be worn while pregnant. Some “regular” bras can also work as maternity bras if they have the correct features. Here are some features to look for in a maternity bra:

 

  • Maternity bras should fit on the tightest hook when you first buy them so you will have room as your chest expands
  • Women who are carrying high should wear a non-underwire bra
  • Bras without an underwire are also great during the third trimester
  • Maternity bras should always be supportive and comfortable to prevent back pain

 

If you’re wary of spending a lot of money on maternity bras, one tip is to wear nursing bras after the seventh month. Nursing bras have many of the comfort features that you need in a maternity bra and will be useful after birth.

Why should I wear a maternity bra?

A good maternity bra will make you far more comfortable as your breasts grow. Wearing a maternity bra helps support the breasts to prevent back pain and even reduces stretch marks. Because your breasts are the heaviest when you are pregnant and nursing, it is especially important to wear a bra that fits. Many maternity bras are also designed to be free of allergens and toxins for sensitive skin.

When should I buy a nursing bra?

I recommend buying your first nursing bras at 30 to 32 weeks. After engorgement is over, most women are around the same bra size that they were at 30 weeks so this is a great time to measure for nursing bras. Your first breastfeeding bras should be soft cup nursing bras. These non-underwire bras allow room for your breasts to grow during engorgement and have flexible sizing that will help you stay comfortable during the first few weeks of nursing. You should have at least two soft cup nursing bras to alternate wearing during this time. After your cup size goes down, these bras will make great sleep nursing bras.

Once your baby is breastfeeding on a regular schedule, you can really expand your nursing wardrobe! Modern nursing bras are available in a wide variety of colors and styles, so you’re not just stuck with unflattering white bras. Most women can comfortably wear an underwire nursing bra at this time. Underwire nursing bras provide great support for heavy breasts, but it is very important that you are wearing the right bra size. In the correct cup size, the underwire will lie comfortably under the breast and not interfere with milk production.

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Prominent Ribcage

For some women, underwire bras are uncomfortable even when they are properly fitted and wearing a good bra. If your underwire digs into you and nothing will fix the problem, it is possible that you have a high ribcage.

Some people simply have a more prominent ribcage than others. If you think you may have a high ribcage, try pressing your finger directly under the breasts, where your wire would normally lie. If you can feel a hard bump in this spot, than you have a rib right underneath the space for your underwire.

Best Bras for a Prominent Ribcage

The simple solution to this bra problem is to try a great soft cup bra, or a bra without underwires. While you may associate wire-free bras with boring, full-coverage styles, there are now more soft-cup bras on the market than ever before. Many have lower V-necklines and are surprisingly supportive. For a wire-free bra that looks like a “regular” bra, try a molded or contour soft cup bra.

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Hiatal Hernia

If you have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, it can be very difficult to find a comfortable bra. A bra that constricts or presses against your upper stomach can cause pain or even digestive problems.

We recommend that women with hiatal hernias only wear soft cup bras, or bras without underwires. This will prevent pain from the wire pressing against your chest. There are fantastic soft cup bras available in every size range, so you’ll sure to find a style that works for you.

Many sports bras do not have wires, but be sure to buy a low-impact sports bra. A medium or high-impact sports bra will have a tight band that could put too much pressure on your chest.

Bra Sizing with Stomach Discomfort

Because comfortable clothing is key, I’ll often put for women with hiatal hernias in a looser band size. First try a bra in your measured size with no underwire. If this is uncomfortable, go up one band size. Remember, if you go up in the band size, you must also go down a cup size to maintain the same amount of space in the cup. For example, if you feel that size 34C is too tight, try 36B instead.

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Curvature of the Spine

There are multiple types of spinal curvature disorders that can make wearing a bra more difficult. Some problems that can be caused by a curved spine include the bra band rolling up your back or the straps falling off of your shoulders. If you have a curved spine or sloped shoulders, you may think it’s impossible to find a bra that supports you comfortably. Don’t fret! There are plenty of styles available that will work for you.

Proper Bras for Spinal Curvature

Wearing the correct type of bra will not only reduce daily annoyances, it can make you look and feel much better. The key here is to purchase a bra with a wide bra band in the back. A bra with a wide band will lie flat against your back and prevent the bra from riding up.

Another type of bra to look for is a posture bra. This type of bra is designed to support the back. You may also want to try a longline bra which extends to the waist. A longline bra will stay in place all day long and offer great support.

If your bra straps fall off of your shoulders, make sure to buy bras that have fully-adjustable straps. Many women with curved spines need to adjust one strap tighter than the other, so be sure to adjust your straps to fit your body. Bras that have straps that are close together in the back are best for spinal curvature.

Bra Fitting Help

When buying a bra for curvature of the spine, you should also ensure that you are wearing the correct size, especially your band size. You bra band should be snug but not uncomfortably tight. Visit our bra fitting room to help find your correct bra size. Wearing the right size will help secure your band to the correct place on your back and will lift your breasts to make your clothes fit better.

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Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction to rebuild the breast after a lumpectomy or mastectomy procedure can create some unique bra problems. With the proper care, you can heal more comfortably and look and feel great after surgery.

After-Surgery Care

Immediately after your surgeries, your doctor will recommend what type of bra is best to wear. One common recommendation is to wear a surgical compression bra. A medical-grade compression bra holds the breast in place while healing and can help with proper drainage. You may also be told to wear a soft cup, or non-underwire, sports bra. Always follow your surgeon’s advice and bra recommendations during the healing process.

If you are having a delayed reconstruction or are having more than one breast reconstruction surgery, we recommend an adjustable breast form. This type of form has removable filling that can be customized to the size that you need. With the filling removed, the shell can be used to smooth the breast without adding size. By reducing the size of the breast form over time, you will only have to purchase one prosthesis over the duration of your surgeries. For more information, see the Anita 1057X Equitex prosthesis.

Fitting Help

After breast reconstruction, you will need to measure yourself to find your bra size. Because bra sizing can be a little more difficult after breast surgery, you may want to visit our store or speak to one of our bra fitting experts. For more information on bra sizing, visit our bra fitting room page.

Bras for Women with Breast Reconstruction

The main fitting difference between breasts before and after reconstruction surgery is that many reconstructed breasts do not have nipples. Bra cups are designed with extra space to fit the nipple, so the bra cup can gap or dent at the center of the reconstructed breast.

To help prevent this problem, I recommend buying a bra that has a heavy lining. A lined or molded bra will also help make uneven breasts look more symmetrical.

Most women who have reconstruction surgery wear bras without an underwire. In addition to being comfortable, non-underwire bras are more forgiving when one breast is larger than the other. There are a wide variety of supportive soft cup bras on the market. A good example of a bra that works well for women with reconstruction is the Wacoal Soft Cup bra. This is a supportive bra with no underwire and a double lining that I’ve fitted on many women who have had reconstruction.

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Lumpectomy or Mastectomy

After a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy, your bra needs can be radically different then before surgery. While buying a post-surgery bra may seem like a daunting prospect, it is still possible to look beautiful and feel comfortable in your bras.

The size and type of your lumpectomy will help determine the type of bras or prosthesis you should be wearing. Because breast surgeries vary from patient to patient, it is important to follow your doctor’s advice regarding appropriate bras, especially in the period immediately after surgery.

What types of bras are appropriate immediately after surgery?

Your doctor should recommend what type of bra to wear immediately post-surgery. One commonly prescribed bra is a Surgical Compression bra. This type of bra is designed to apply even pressure on the breasts to promote the healing process. This type of bra may be prescribed to you if are susceptible to lymphoedema.

If you do not need a medical-grade compression bra, your doctor may recommend wearing a soft-cup bra, such as a low or medium-impact sports bra. A front closure bra may be easier to put on and off than a bra with a traditional back hook and clasp.

What types of bras can I wear after I heal?

Depending on where your surgery was performed, you may have sensitive areas on your breasts. Because every woman will have a different comfort level, it is important to pay attention to what types of bras feel best for you.

If the sides or bottoms of your breasts are sensitive, you may prefer to continue wearing non-underwire bras. See our Soft Cup bra page for a large selection of bras without a wire.

If there is a small size difference between the size of your breasts, a Stretch Cup bra will comfortably fit both sides without any padding or fill.

How can I make my breasts look more even?

Feeling comfortable emotionally in your new bras is almost as important as being physically comfortable. If you are bothered by the size difference between your breasts, there are plenty of ways to create a more balanced silhouette.

The most natural-looking solution is a partial breast form or compensation form. These bra inserts are designed to be worn after breast surgery and utilize the same technology as forms for full mastectomies. Unlike full breast forms, a compensation form is designed to smooth and fill in the breast tissue rather than replace the whole breast.

A partial breast form can be worn with any Mastectomy Bra to keep the form securely in place. If you would like to wear your form in a non-mastectomy bra, look for styles that have full-coverage cups.

Just want to fill out one side when you’re wearing more revealing clothing? A bra with removable push-up pads can be used to subtly add volume to the smaller breast. Simply remove the pads from the larger side.

How can I find my size after a lumpectomy?

Being measured for the right size bra is crucial for breast maintenance and breast health. You should always size your bra to the larger breast.

If you are unsure of your size, here are directions for finding your bra size when one breast is larger than the other. This process is easier if you have a friend help ensure that the measuring tape is straight and taut.

1) Measure your chest directly under your breasts, making a straight line across your back. The measuring tape should be tight, but not cutting into you. This is your Band Size Measurement.

2) Measure the larger of your breasts. To do this, start with the tape measure on your chest wall between the breasts. Go over the fullest part of your breast and halfway around your back, stopping at the spine.

3) Multiply this measurement by two. This is your Cup Size Measurement.

4) Enter these measurements in our Bra Calculator Tool to see your bra size.

Please note that bra sizing is not a perfect science, so it may take a little trial and error to find the perfect size. If you need more help with bra or prosthesis sizing, contact us for personal advice.

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Osteoporosis & Sloped Shoulders

While falling bra straps are a common bra problem, some women are much more prone to it than others. Women who have osteoporosis or who have naturally sloped shoulders are much more comfortable in bras that are designed to help straps stay put. There are a few different types of bras that work very well for sloped shoulders.

Racerback Bras

The first type of bra I recommend to women with sloped shoulders or osteoporosis is a racerback bra. This style is also known as a T-back bra and has straps that meet in the back. Because the shoulder straps are connected to each other, they stay in place much better. For a similar solution, you can also try a convertible bra. Convertible bras have straps that can be rearranged to suit different styles and needs. You can cross the straps in the back for a more secure fit. You may also like to try a bra accessory like the Strapper. This will pull your straps together in the back to help secure them.

Bra Straps for Osteoporosis

There are many different bra strap designs which can also affect how well a bra fits on sloped shoulders. Bras with padded straps can be great for women with osteoporosis. If you are a smaller size you may have trouble finding bras with padded straps available in your size. In this case, we recommend separate bra strap cushions that you can wear with any bra.

Bra Sizing Help

Proper bra sizing can help you feel your best in your bra. When wearing racerback bras, it is especially important to wear the correct band size as the bra cannot be adjusted. A well-fitted bra band will also help keep pressure off of your shoulders.

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Breast Augmentation

For some women, underwire bras are uncomfortable even when they are properly fitted and wearing a good bra. If your underwire digs into you and nothing will fix the problem, it is possible that you have a high ribcage.

Some people simply have a more prominent ribcage than others. If you think you may have a high ribcage, try pressing your finger directly under the breasts, where your wire would normally lie. If you can feel a hard bump in this spot, than you have a rib right underneath the space for your underwire.

Best Bras for a Prominent Ribcage

The simple solution to this bra problem is to try a great soft cup bra, or a bra without underwires. While you may associate wire-free bras with boring, full-coverage styles, there are now more soft-cup bras on the market than ever before. Many have lower V-necklines and are surprisingly supportive. For a wire-free bra that looks like a “regular” bra, try a molded or contour soft cup bra.

READ MORE

Breast Reduction

For women who’ve struggled with large breasts for years, a breast reduction can do wonders for back pain as well as self-esteem. But before you can enjoy your new bra size, you’ll have to figure out what it is!

Post Surgery Bras

Immediately after surgery, you will need to wear a bra that promotes proper healing. Your doctor may recommend a surgical compression bra or a simple soft cup bra. Always follow your physician’s advice on what to wear until you have fully recovered. You may also experience swelling during this time, so you should not measure yourself during recovery.

Bra Fitting Time!

Once you’ve recovered from surgery, you’ll be ready for your shopping spree! While you’ve certainly discussed your ideal cup size with your surgeon, don’t assume your “goal” is your exact bra size after surgery. Because breast surgeries are measured in CCs, not cup sizes, you will still need to measure yourself for your new size. You can see directions for measuring yourself on our online bra fitting room.

Here’s a warning when measuring your new bra size: don’t be shocked if the cup size you measure is the same, or even bigger, than the bras you used to wear. Many women with large breasts have been wearing the incorrect bra size for years. It’s possible your “DD” breasts actually used to be DDD, G or H cups squeezed into the wrong size bra.

Because your body type has changed, it may take a little trial and error to find the best bra for you. Don’t worry – once you get it right, you’ll be sure to have many bras to choose from!

Considering a Breast Reduction?

I often have women in my store that are frustrated with their breasts and even in pain. Before you get a breast reduction surgery, be sure to get yourself properly fitted. A correctly fitted bra can reduce back and shoulder pain at a fraction of the price. You may find that your problems with your breasts are simply the result of ill-fitting bras.

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