Welcome back to Milk a la Mode! For my first actual review, I’m going to talk about two products from Bravado. One is an actual bra, the Bravado original full cup nursing bra, and the other, the Clip & Pump, is a pumping “bra.” (A pumping bra holds the pump parts on your chest so you don’t have to.)
Bravado original full cup nursing bra
Bravado has two “original” nursing bras; the smaller bra goes up to a D cup, whereas the full-cup is for DD up to F (UK sizing) or G (US sizing). While I was still pregnant, I ordered a size small based on a size chart, using my pre-pregnancy rib cage and bust measurements (US 30F).
I’d definitely consider Bravado one of the “OG” nursing bra brands; it was popular back when I was fitting people in 2007-08 and still seems popular now.
Style and look:
The look of this bra is simple and utilitarian. It’s a scoop neck sports/racerback style bra without hooks—to put it on, it’s meant to be pulled over your head. (Pro tip: I sometimes have trouble with the straps getting rolled and twisted if I pull it over my head, especially right after a shower. Stepping into it and pulling it up over my hips actually goes better if that works for your body.) If you’re looking for something that feels a little more sporty and practical, and less femme, this would likely fit the bill.
I got it in black, figuring it would be seeing a lot of stains; it also comes in white and gray. It’s got standard nursing clips that are easy to undo with one hand, and either side pulls down easily for nursing or pumping.
Again, like a sports bra, this doesn’t give much separation or indentation between sides; you’re definitely getting a “uniboob” shape.
Support and comfort:
The cotton fabric blend is thin and breathable, but still gives good lift and support. The elastic band at the rib cage is fairly wide and I find it gives excellent underbust support—it never rolls or rides up on my 30 inch underbust, even though the size chart only goes down to 32.
Unlike a sports bra, it’s not compressive—which is good, and what you want in a nursing bra! (Compression can cause plugged ducts and/or signal to your body to reduce your milk production.) There’s enough stretch in the fabric that it gave me good coverage and support from pregnancy through to my size enlarging as my milk came in. It’s a great choice for people who just aren’t sure how their size will change and want multiple cup sizes worth of “give.”
This just can’t be beat. I don’t know how many years it’s been since I paid $35 full retail for a bra that fits and supports me. I appreciate that Bravado has kept the prices for their two “original” style bras low.
I like this bra, but if they’re both in the drawer I’ll reach for the Sugar Candy bra first for two reasons: First is the fact that I don’t love having to pull the Bravado bra over my head (or step into it). Like I mentioned, with the multiple straps for nursing and the thin fabric, it’s easy for it to get twisted up. The second is the “uniboob” shape; this hasn’t bothered me much because I’m just hanging around at home nursing a baby and working remotely. But it’s still nice to feel like I’m wearing more of a “normal” bra in the Sugar Candy.
But at this price point, I think the Bravado original bra is a perfect bra to get for the end of pregnancy and beginning of postpartum. That’s when stretch and comfort will matter most, and appearance the least. As you start getting back out and about, the shape may still work for you. If not, you can use it more as an around-the-house or sleep bra. (Some people sleep in a bra either for extra support and comfort, or to hold pads in if they tend to leak a lot at night.) And given the price, it’s easier to get one to throw in your hospital bag and have for those early days.
Note: I also tried Bravado’s Silk Seamless bra, which is very popular. I recalled from my days as a nursing bra fitter that people loved it but also that it didn’t really work above a D cup. This is unfortunately still true—the band just rolled right up under my bust and I got no support from it. If you want a similar fabric and style but with D+ bust support, go for the Sugar Candy instead.
Bravado Clip and Pump
A “companion” accessory is Bravado’s “Clip and Pump” pumping bra. I ended up having a lot of opportunities to evaluate pumping gear. My baby and I encountered a lot of challenges with feeding at the beginning—I was almost exclusively pumping for multiple weeks before we transitioned to exclusive nursing with the help of some expert lactation consultants (always seek out an IBCLC if you’re having trouble!).
As I mentioned above, any type of pumping bra holds the pump flanges in place so you can pump hands-free. Hands-free pumping is CRUCIAL if you are going to pump regularly! It will save your back and shoulders, and your time and sanity, by allowing you to do other things with your hands besides holding the pump flanges in place.
Typical pumping bras are generally made of heavy fabric, are strapless/tube top style, and zip or snap in front. (“Bra” is also a bit of a confusing term for them because you don’t wear them all the time—just when you pump.) In contrast, the Clip and Pump is made of lightweight fabric, looks more like a regular bra, and like a regular bra has a band at the bottom with hooks and eyes that fasten in back. But instead of straps, it just has nursing clips – meant to clip directly onto whatever nursing bra or tank you’re already wearing.
I’ve pumped with both a typical pumping bra and the Clip and Pump, so I have a good comparison. The main pros and cons about the Clip and Pump are:
- Lightweight fabric felt less bulky and easier to put on. The heavy fabric of the typical pumping bra meant more stretching and pulling to get it in place. BUT I’d say the Clip and Pump also felt less secure, and I had the occasional leak around the flange—that never happened with the bulkier but more secure typical bra.
- When I was pumping many times a day, the lightweight fabric also meant I felt comfortable just rolling it up and wearing it under my shirt, just below the band of my regular bra. That meant saving time and effort finding it and taking it on and off for each pump session. It sounds small…but when you’re dealing with a newborn and pumping every 2-3 hours, every little bit of effort you can save matters. As the weather got warmer, that extra fabric was less comfortable, but in the early spring I didn’t mind it at all.
- The style made it easier to pull over the flanges as I put it on, vs having to wiggle them through the the fabric of the bulkier bra.
- The “clip” part of the Clip and Pump worked well with the Bravado bra, where it snapped in securely. With the Sugar Candy, the clip was just slightly different in size, so I could hook it on but not get a secure snap. This usually didn’t matter, but if I moved around more, it could wiggle off. On a cheapie hand-me-down nursing tank with tiny clips, it was constantly falling off. So how secure the attachment is will really depend on which bra or tank you’re wearing.
- My wife pumped to induce lactation, and she also used the Clip and Pump. We have similar band sizes but she’s a B cup, and the same size (small) still worked very well for her. So I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it regardless of cup size, and found their sizing chart to be accurate.
Overall, I’d recommend the Clip and Pump with caveats that if you’re going to move around a lot while pumping and/or use a wide variety of bras or tanks, it might not be the most secure. I was glad I had both this and a more typical tube top-style pumping bra to choose from depending on my needs.
Got questions about either of these? I’m happy to answer them in the comments! And stay tuned for my next review, of the Kindred Bravely nursing/pumping combo bra, and their swimsuit top.