Bring To Light: Pelvic health physiotherapist Clare Bourne talks about how transformative a good bra is for physical health and mental wellbeing

For our "Bring to Light" series, this month we have teamed up with Clare Bourne (@clarebournephysio), a pelvic health physiotherapist and Mum of 2 from London who loves to talk about all aspects of women’s health and how we can support women and improve their confidence. She believes in opening up the conversation on all taboo topics and wants women to feel confident in their bodies and who they are. Knowledge is power and she believes women should be educated about their bodies, what to expect and how to get help if they need it. You can find out more about Clare on her website www.clare-bourne.com.

So, let’s talk about bras and boobs because I mean how much do you really ever talk or think about your breast health, bra size or bra fitting, or think about the huge journey our breasts actually go on through life. I don’t know about you but like so many aspects of being a girl or women, we are not taught about these things at school. This blog aims to open up the conversation, and just help us all think about our boobs and the precious material that holds them for most of the day...our bras! I hope this encourages you and hopefully prompts us to consider whether there are any changes we need to make. 

1. The importance of a good fitting bra

How many of us have thought about how well our bra fits recently? Or maybe we have but access to help has been limited so we have just had to accept the status quo. It has been shown that 80% of women are wearing a bra that doesn’t fit correctly and therefore I think this really needs to be addressed.

A good fitting bra is important for so many reasons, a few key ones being:

  • Comfort: we all know that feeling of wanting to take our bra off at the end of the day, but actually a well fitted and correctly sized bra certainly has me wanting to do this less. Equally for something we wear every day, and for most of our awake hours, comfort is paramount.
    • Pain: A study showed that 50% of women reported symptoms of breast pain, more so in those with larger breasts. This pain has been linked to lack of breast support, therefore making our bras and how they fit and support very important. Additionally, if we do not adequately support the breasts it can contribute to neck, shoulder and back pain. In clinic I am often talking to women about their bras and the importance of correct fitting and breast support as part of the picture when trying to help reduce pain or discomfort. We don’t always naturally make the link, but it can be amazing how transformative a good bra can be.
      • Posture: We don’t need to live with perfect posture, don’t panic, that doesn’t have to be our focus, however, as women our breasts and their weight can have an impact on our posture and how we hold ourselves. For some this may contribute to certain aches and pains, for others it may impact how confident they feel in their body. We don’t always need a new bra, but actually just a few adjustments to our current bra can really help. 
        • Self-confidence: for a lot of women their breasts change a lot throughout their lives, from their development as a teenager, to their increased size during pregnancy, the quite amazing capacity they can have and milk production skills when breastfeeding, to the changed, often more droopy, dare I say more saggy breast post feeding, and then into menopause when our bodies change yet again. What a journey for our body and our breasts, and these changes can naturally impact our self-confidence, especially as mothers. Additionally some women who have larger breasts can feel more self-conscious and actually take up more slouched postures to almost hide or reduce their visibility. I honestly believe a good fitting bra can make us all feel more confident and what I love about Phaein is that on their website there are women who look like me, curvy women who I can identify with and that gives me confidence too.

           

          2. The importance of regular fitting

          As I have mentioned the changes that occur to our breasts throughout life can be quite extensive, and sometimes we can be wearing the same size bra that we wore in our early 20s because we never got resized. To be totally honest I didn’t get fitted for the first time until my mid 20s as I had no idea of the benefits, so I was definitely wearing the wrong size. I found it so hard navigating the changing sizes during pregnancy, then postpartum and then once finishing breastfeeding. As busy mums there is just not enough time to go and get fitted all the time. I found Phaein’s extensive size and fit guides for their bras really helpful so I could get the right size and I could do it from the privacy of my own home. I tell you what, I learnt more from reading their website than I have from multiple bra fittings.

            So let us all remember - we are not one size for life so when you pop your bra on next time have a think about it’s fit and if you need to make any changes or buy a new one. This video from the University of Portsmouth’s Breast Health Research team is brilliant about how our bra should fit and I hope it will help you on your journey https://vimeo.com/28245994

             

            3. The importance of regularly checking your breasts

            I couldn’t write about breasts without reminding us all of the importance of regularly checking for any lumps, changes in skin texture or changes to the nipple, including any new discharge. Checking at least once a month and understanding what is normal your body is so vital, so you can recognise when there are changes. You can find out more about how to check your own breasts here https://coppafeel.org/your-boobs/boob-check-101/

             

            4. Has your relationship with your bra changed this year?

            We have all spent more time at home than we would have ever planned in 2020/21 and there has been a lot of chat about women wearing bras less because we are not going anywhere….this is not always an option for the largest chested lady, which Phaein so beautifully care for. Comfort has been the underlying theme and I tell you what if you are looking for comfort then check out the triangle bra, no wire but still the support you need. It would also be great for pregnancy for anyone who wants to stop wearing underwire. Phaein’s aim is to provide you with a bra that ‘feels like a second skin’ and I for one am all for that.

               

              5. Are you a lady with larger breasts?

              If you are, do you ever find that getting a bra in your size is actually really hard? As a larger breasted lady I have found this throughout my life. I mean to be honest in my early 20s I had no idea there were even sizes past a DD, because most shops don’t sell larger cupped bras. I found accessing the right size was hard as there were very few shops and so I had to travel to get fitted, unlike my other friends who could just pick one up easily from the local high street or shopping centre. It really put me off going to get resized and I would often wear bras way past their best. Being able to access more information and bras online really helps this.

               

              So ladies, I know like so much of women’s health, talking about boobs, bras and bra sizes is not easy, however see it as an act of self care and self love. Understanding all aspects of our bodies from our breast health, to our pelvic health, to our bone health, to our mental health is all SO important. So please, if you struggle with any new symptoms you are unsure of, however embarrassing or hard they might be to talk about, please reach out, speak to your GP and start the road to understanding yourself even better.