Before you go to the store, check out these tips on how to find the perfect bra for you.

woman trying on bras
Credit: iStockphoto

Initially, you might be able to get away with wearing your existing bras by simply loosening the straps and using the last hooks on the band. But many women experience significant chest swell (up to two cup sizes!), so you can plan to hit the lingerie department at some point during your pregnancy--possibly every couple of months. "The right bra is essential to keep your breasts looking perky while pregnant," says New York City-based fashion expert Dawn Del Russo. Buying a bra for your pregnancy breasts is similar to buying one for your regular boobs, but there are a few extra things to keep in mind when you're on the hunt.

Buy the next size up

The fit pros at, a website dedicated to helping women find the most comfortable undergarments possible, recommend going up to the next band size. Which means, if you're wearing a size 36 at the beginning of your pregnancy, you'll want to purchase a size 38 to give your girls room to grow. (Cups get larger along with band size, so no need to go bigger there initially.)

Look for supportive details

Since your breasts could potentially gain up to two pounds during pregnancy, you'll want to find a bra that counteracts the effects of that extra weight. Opt for styles that offer wide shoulder straps to take pressure off your lower back. And go for ones with supportive underwire and structured seems across the front, often referred to as a "cut-and-sew" design.

Avoid low-cut numbers

As your girls become well rounded, bras that would be amazing under plunging necklines won't be so great keeping things in line. Low-cut styles tend to allow spillover up top, which might not be supportive enough for bigger jugs. Plus, fabric and lace across the center of the chest could dig into skin, causing redness and irritation.

Consider a nursing bra

It won't necessarily be the sexiest item in your drawer, but a nursing bra is a good option for those with especially tender breasts. Often seamless and designed without underwire, they can be more comfortable during late pregnancy (and right after birth) when your breasts may become engorged due to milk production.

Try a sports bra

Designed to stop jiggle while jogging, sports bras are made with high-tech fabrics that help lady lumps of all sizes defy gravity. "I recommend sports bras to women during pregnancy, because they're more supportive and can stretch to accommodate additional growth," says Patrick Duff, M.D., an OB-GYN at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Still, styles that pull on over your head may be tough to maneuver--especially in the last trimester, so look for ones with a zipper in front.

Copyright ? 2013 Meredith Corporation.