Ladies, we need to have a little chat, woman to woman. I have a little Oprah-style confession to make. I've been wearing the wrong size bra. Wow, it feels good to have that off my chest (pun intended). But seriously, when was the last time you were properly fitted for some much needed support for your two best gal pals? Honestly, until a few days ago, I never had. I always just used a tape measure at home and Googled until I found a website that would calculate my size. I realized months ago it was time to do something about that, but I procrastinated.
You would think after having (and nursing) four children (including twins, simultaneously with a football hold) there would be little in this world that could scare me. The thought of undressing and showing the sad state of my original twins to a perfect stranger was enough to make me consider wearing a burka for the rest of my life. Not only do I have four kids to thank for my current situation, but I've also lost 40 pounds in the last 15 months. It's easy to just drop down to the next jeans size and try things on, but not so much with bras. I honestly didn't know how to measure and account for my friends who have inflated, deflated and moved south over the last 10 years. I knew something had to give and I needed professional help.
I gathered up my courage and my spare pennies. I chose my day to go. Thanks to some tips from a blog I'd read months ago, I showered, shaved my armpits, wore the best fitting bra I currently had and dressed in a simple white button down shirt and jeans for my adventure. I drove to the nearest mall and walked into the fanciest department store inside. I figured if I was going to do this, I wanted a grandmotherly woman, whose girls would probably be worse than mine, helping me.
When I arrived in the lingerie department, no one was there. Actually, they were there, but it was a weekday morning and the two associates were both helping other customers. One greeted me warmly and assured me another "personal stylist" would be arriving in less than five minutes for her shift and she would assist me. As I wandered looking at all the colors, fabrics and lace, I realized all the associates I saw were younger women, not far from my own age and there wasn't a gray hair in sight. Great, this was already not going as planned, but now I was committed.
The stylist arrived, grabbed her measuring device and showed me to a large dressing room with a lighted three way mirror. "Awesome, florescent lights will make my pale midriff look FANTASTIC," I thought to myself. She introduced herself as Ashley and asked what I needed that day. I nervously babbled about losing lots of weight recently, having nursed four children and having no idea what size I should be wearing. She smiled and nodded knowingly, which put me at ease. She then asked me to get down to my bra so she could take my measurements. It wasn't nearly as invasive as I'd imagined, she was quick and efficient. She said my new number aloud and said she'd be back in a few moments with a couple to try to verify the size. She carefully opened and closed the dressing room door to shield me from other customers.
When she returned, in addition to the bras she brought a cami and a robe (for modesty as she entered and exited the room). Now was do or die time. I removed my old, ill-fitting bra and Ashley assisted me into a new one. Her measurements were spot on and it was a perfect fit right from the start. She verbally instructed and gestured as she taught me how to make sure everyone was carefully inside. She explained how it should fit and adjusted the straps for me. She then asked what styles I liked to wear, colors and other details so she could bring me more items to try on. One by one, we tried them all. Each time she assisted me with a new one, I noticed her eyes went up and over my shoulder at the most vulnerable time. I can't imagine it is an easy job for her either, but seeing that she was intentionally giving me as much modesty as possible was very reassuring. After trying several on, she left me alone to try them on again and with the cami to see how they would look. It took me about 5 more minutes to decide how many fit my budget and which ones of the 6 or so she brought would be going home with me. I had just finished redressing in my original clothes when she knocked again to check on me.
Although I was completely terrified walking into the store that morning, I left with amazing confidence. You would have thought I slayed a dragon rather than just allowing a stranger to see the effects of 3 pregnancies, 4 children and a lot of weight fluctuation had done to my once perky girls.
I'm sure you are wondering why I'm sharing this with you today. It's simple, because it's important. I didn't realize how important it was until I did it myself. I didn't realize how important it was until I shared with other women. Those women asked questions, and I realized that I wasn't alone in my anxiety about this type of experience.
The other reason I'm sharing it on the Cotton Babies blog is because if you are an expecting or nursing mother, you can visit one of our local retail stores for a fitting. We have associates on staff that have been trained and certified to help you get a perfect fit on a nursing bra. My oldest child is now 9 years old, and I'll admit, I just grabbed whatever un-supportive, cotton nursing bra I could find at the local big box retailer during my nursing years. But, I didn't live in St. Louis and Cotton Babies didn't have a retail store or sell nursing bras at that time. If I was doing it today, I would do it much differently. I would march into Cotton Babies and ask for a fitting. I know several of our female associates personally and they are the kindest women I've ever met. They will treat you with respect and dignity as they help you find the perfect fit. I know from experience how important it is to have a nursing bra that is supportive and fits well. Most of us only purchase a few and they get months or years of use.
If you don't live near Cotton Babies, we suggest finding a local maternity or baby retailer with a certified fitter to help you find your perfect size. One of our favorite brands, Bravado, has a list of retailers with certified fitters available on their website.
If you are past the pregnancy and nursing stage like me, but still wearing the scars, I highly recommend finding a local store to get a professional fitting. My back feels better, things look perkier again and even my t-shirts fit better. As we think about Mothers' Day, there's really no better time than now to take care of those all important, life-long friends that stick so close to you every day. You'll feel more confident and I highly doubt the man in your life will complain once everything is back where it should be.
One final note, if you write for a living, don't tell your boss about these types of experiences unless you are prepared to hear "You should write a blog about that!" It's never easy to hit "publish" on a blog like this. I do it because I'm thankful another brave blogger told her story, which inspired me to not only get my own fitting, but to share my story with you. I hope it inspires you to take the time to take care of your girls, because a properly fitting bra isn't just about appearance, it can prevent health issues, especially while you are nursing.
Happy Mothers' Day to all of you (and your girls)!