Breastfeeding is incredible: it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and yet I adore it. I’ve been nursing now for over three years, which means I’ve gone through a lot of breastfeeding gear!

This article will show you the honest truth about all the various bras and nursing tanks I’ve used over the years. I’ll also give you some general advice if you’ll be in the market for this stuff any time soon. I tell you about comfort, sizing, pricing, and how easy it is to nurse in these damn things. Bonus points if I can easily get my boob out with one hand! Photos included, of course. On we go!

While I do have affiliate links in this article, I paid for all of these items myself; rest assured that my reviews are completely honest and unbiased! Some items are only available at Target, in which case I list the actual name of the product and link to Target* so that you can find it (but I won’t get a commission for it, which is ok!).

title image for real simple mama review of nursing bras and tanks for breastfeeding

Nursing Bras

These are all the styles of nursing bras I’ve tried, from comfy one-piece sleep bras, to hooked t-shirt bras, to underwires. 

  • The Medela line of bras can be rather expensive, but I really loved their sleep bra. It’s soft, and easy to get the boob out one-handed. I’ll be honest, I kinda lived in this thing for a while. They come in white, nude, or black; sizing is just small/medium/large/etc. Note that the fabric is exceedingly thin, though it’s the softest bra on the market. This is the type of thing you want when your baby is first born, as they’re more forgiving when your breasts are changing by the day!

  • Gilligan & O’Malley (“GO” for future reference, by Target) has a lot of good stuff. Their nursing sleep bras* are very similar to the one by Medela I showed above (though the GO ones are a bit thicker fabric). It feels like an exercise sports bra with a slit down the middle. And like Medela’s, these are just sized by letter (S/M/L/XL). The main perk here is that they’re much more affordable than the other brands I’ve tried: a 2-pack for $22!

image of the Gilligan and OMalley Target sleep nursing bra for breastfeeding

  • GO also has many other styles of bras, like this everyday lined “nursing full coverage” wireless bra. They’re cute and come in various colors, but I find that this one isn’t quite as comfortable to fold down when I’m nursing, and it makes me feel like my boobs look saggy even though the bra adjusted and fitted properly. Sizing is pretty accurate here as compared to other brands. I just don’t really like this bra in particular.

image of Gilligan and OMalley wireless everyday full coverage nursing bra from Target

  • My favorite GO bra when I’m going out is this lace full coverage underwire*. I know, I know, underwire is bad for nursing, but it’s what I’ve worn for years pre-baby and I think they make me more confident. I’m a 40D so I like to look like I have two normal-shaped boobs instead of a massive uni-boob. When I was teaching full-time, or when we go out and I attempt to look nice, this is what I wear.

image of Gilligan and Omalley from Target lace full coverage underwire breastfeeding nursing bra

  • Basics by Bravado! is another affordable option which comes in letter sizes. It’s soft and I feel like it’s reinforced in all the right places. I just have a simple black one with no frills and no padding, and I would suggest you choose a size which won’t be too tight (you want that thick band around the bottom to stay in place); overall though, it’s a good reliable bra under a t-shirt or when I’m at home.

  • Caramel Cantina is honestly a random brand I found on Amazon when I was looking for cheeeap nursing bras. We’re talking like 3 for $30. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they fit well (and accurately, by letter size). I personally don’t like those removable pads – think middle school bathing suits – so I take those out. Otherwise this is a perfectly fine option, especially if you’re on a budget. Looks like they also make bralettes and tanks, but I haven’t tried any… yet.

Nursing Tanks and Camis

These are tanks and camis which are specifically designed for nursing; this means that they have a hook to unclip each breast, and feature a built-in bra. These are great to wear alone, or to use under another shirt for no-show nursing in public. It’s called the “two-shirt method” and it’s fantastic!

  • Bravado has fantastic stuff: your boobs actually look nice and you can tell the shirt is well-made. I feel like I get the most support from these shirts (you know how it can be when you wear a shirt with a built-in bra, especially if you’re well-endowed like I am.) They’re also sized by bra size, not just “S/M/L”, so you feel like they fit you really well. Colors include black, white, platinum, and a gorgeous deep purple. The problem is, they’re really expensive. I had one but couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on any more. But if you can afford it, you really can tell the difference.

  • Motherhood Maternity has nursing camis which are actually cute: little details like lace trim and cinching help you feel like a normal human being after you’ve given birth. I do feel like they run just a tad small (particularly around the waist), and they use traditional letter sizes. They also have super-thin straps and the straps always get twisted up in the wash, which is a pet peeve of mine. But I really appreciate how they have so many colors to choose from! Plus they win the award for the softest cami I’ve tried.

  • Gilligan & O’Malley* strikes again! I have so many of these it’s insane. Their tanks are affordable at less than $20 each, and I think they fit the best. They come in basic letter sizes. Honestly,  my big complaint is that there aren’t a lot of colors. I only ever find black, white, gray, or gray/black striped. But they’re my go-to for nursing in public, and I also like that the cotton is a bit thicker.

image of Gilligan and OMalley by Target nursing cami for breastfeeding

  • Rumina makes an all-in-one nursing and pumping tank which is amaaaazing if you pump. You’ll find it on Amazon in all the usual colors, with letter sizes (which can run a bit small due to the bit of excess fabric needing to fit snugly). It’ll cost you a bit more, but it’s made really well and the design is super cool! Essentially you clip-and-pull-down to nurse like all the other apparel on this review, but to pump you pull the fabric up from the bottom of your breast to reveal a “pocket” which holds the flange… so you can pump hands-free! As a working mom, I was all over this. (Limited time to pump? Yeah, I’ll sacrifice a nice bra and wear this with a cardigan instead.) This tank also has my favorite straps out of the bunch: nice and thick.

Some General Suggestions

I would wait before spending a lot of money on this stuff until your baby is at least 4-6 weeks old. This means that your milk supply has gotten to stabilize, and you’ll have a pretty accurate idea of what size boobs you really have. (I spent way too much money on some nice Bravado stuff only to have it too tight a few weeks later; anything on your boobs that’s too tight can result in serious issues, like mastitis. Don’t go there.) So if you have a newborn and your milk supply is still regulating, just get some ideas of which nursing bra and tank styles you might like!

Definitely get nursing pads, whether or not you are going out in public. Breastmilk can stain some clothes permanently, depending on the fabric and your wash routine. These pads go up against your nipple, absorbing leaks discretely. I still wear these daily. My ultimate comparison review, which gets tons of hits every day, can be found here.

Don’t laugh: when you nurse at night (especially if you cosleep), your boob and shoulders may get cold. I made a half-shirt that’s perfect for side-lying: simply take an old shirt with sleeves and cut it right below your breasts. You look ridiculous, but you will be nice and warm! If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid, right?

image of real simple mama handmade cover for shoulders when breastfeeding nursing at night

fashion: 0; functionality: 1

Lastly, if you feel overwhelmed or unsure or in pain at all, please please get some help from a lactation specialist! They are fantastic, often covered with your insurance, and can save your breastfeeding relationship. They know so much more than an obstetrician or pediatrician, trust me. An IBCLC can really save your nursing relationship.

And if I can help you further, you can check out my breastfeeding articles here.

I also have a whole book about feeding your baby, called Breastfeeding or Formula? A Real Simple Guide to Feeding Your Newborn Baby. It’s full to the brim with tips, research-based links, and cool facts to help you feel confident in how you choose to feed your child.

Give me suggestions and reviews below: what gear did you love/hate while breastfeeding?

image of real simple mama breastfeeding in public nursing at a park

happy nursing, from my little to yours!