Several outdoor brands specializing in Merino apparel offer more or less athletic bras in this soft and temperature-regulating material. However, as a new mom I wondered whether anyone made actual nursing bras in Merino wool and I started searching for products. My search resulted in me contacting the Swedish brand Boob Design which has the endearing philosophy that mothers, like all superheroes, deserve the right gear. The right gear for me was naturally the Merino bra reviewed in the following, a long-sleeved Merino base layer for breastfeeding (reviewed here) and a nursing sports bra (reviewed here), which Boob Design agreed to send me for testing in return for unbiased reviews. I have been using the bra for several months now, testing it for various outdoor activities as well as for everyday life and concluded that the Boob Design Merino bra is suitable for:
- Everyday use
The Boob Design Merino bra is made of 94 % mulesing-free Merino wool and 6% elastane for form and fit. The wool is organic and certified according to the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX. which means that the Merino bra, like all other Boob Design apparel, is free of harmful substances. It is also GOTS-certified, which is no surprise as the brand has a great emphasis on all-around sustainability. All of Boob Design’s Merino wool products are for example made in Greece and sewn on a small family-owned and –run factory called Savas. A very long way (in all manners) from the questionably run sweatshop factories in Asia!
The density of the fabric is 200g/m2, which helps to keep your breasts warm and snug – this is particularly important while they are producing milk as there is a bigger chance for the very painful condition of mastitis if you fail to keep your chest warm. I tried it myself shortly after the birth and I cannot recommend it to anyone. The front part of the Boob Design Merino bra is even made of a double layer of the material which adds both warmth and support to the breasts. The wool used is “merely” of the Fine grade with a diameter of 19.5 microns (1 micron = 1/100 of a single human hair’s width), but the feeling is still velvety soft and the thicker fibers might mean added durability compared to apparel made of finer fibers.
Comfort, fit and sizing
The Boob Design Merino bra comes in four sizes, S-XL. For sizing Boob Design relies on you knowing your normal cup size, but if you don’t, they have also made a step-by-step guide on how to determine it. In the sizing scheme you will be able to determine which size your cup size should fit. As a cup size 75E (34DD) I asked for a size M which luckily turned out to fit me superbly. It can otherwise be hard to fit busts with a relatively small back size (band width) and larger cup size for compression bras like this one (where support is provided by the tight-fitting material (com)pressing your breasts against your chest wall by help of the elastic band). The band provides as much as 70% of a bra’s support for your chest, which means that it is critical to choose a size where the band fits you quite snugly but if you have large breasts there might not be enough material on the otherwise appropriate size to cover them adequately without spilling over at the sides.
Sizing aside, the Boob Design Merino bra features a good supportive 5 cm wide band and quite broad straps which are 4 cm wide at the narrowest point. Nevertheless, due to the softness and flexibility of the fabric the bra ‘only’ offers low to medium support – at least for my bust, but that is also all I need for my activity level at present. Actual running would require a high-impact sports bra, but I don’t see myself doing much running until my child learns to at least crawl properly! High-impact sports bras are also not particularly comfortable, and when you are pregnant or breast-feeding you should always prioritize comfort over support in my opinion. The only area where the Boob Design Merino bra does not succeed entirely in terms of comfort is the side seams, which have been stitched with regular ‘bulky’ seams. These have occasionally been bothering the sensitive skin underneath my armpits. Flatlock seams would have been the obvious construction choice here.
For any nursing bra, the most important aspects to consider functionality-wise are comfort, support and the actual design which should enable easy access to the breasts. The Boob Design Merino bra is made in the form of a wrap bra where the wireless cups cross over one another in the front. For breastfeeding you simply pull the wireless cup down underneath the breast without having to fuss around with hooks, snap fasteners etc. Now, I have tried other wrap bras for nursing, but I abandoned them very soon as the bundle of fabric underneath the breast always seemed to push the breast upwards and inwards in a most unnatural bulging manner – not very comfortable.
The Boob Design Merino bra is much more comfortable, which I attribute to the combination of a good cut (the triangle cups are neither too high nor low), the soft yet shapely material and a good fit. You of course still feel the folded fabric underneath the breast more than when using a nursing bra with cups that can be detached at the strap and folded underneath the breast, but not terribly so. The wrap design also allows you to cover yourself up quickly with one hand, while you usually need both hands for nursing bras with clip-on cups as it can be very hard to clip the cup back on the shoulder strap with just one hand. The Boob Design Merino bra is thus great for breastfeeding in nature or on the go, where you can’t always just put your baby aside while you deal with your exposed breast! The support level is, as mentioned above, appropriate for everyday life, hiking, climbing and other low to medium impact activities but not (trail) running or other high-impact sports.
Washing and drying
You should wash the Merino bra very gentle – either inside a wash bag in the machine on the wool/delicate cycle or by hand in cold water – and always with a suitable wool detergent. You shouldn’t tumble-dry it either, but the Boob Design Merino bra is anyway pretty fast-drying.
The Boob Design Merino bra is great for breastfeeding on the go, whether you are in nature or the city, but can also be used when you are pregnant or even if there is no (longer) procreation in sight! I will definitely keep using it for hiking and other outdoor adventures in any weather conditions, except the hottest of summer days where the Merino wool will be too warm.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.