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Will Affordable Care Act Change Nursing Bra Design?

December 16, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

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It’s hard to imagine that a medical insurance plan could change the way nursing bras are designed. But the Affordable Care Act, in an effort to increase overall breastfeeding rates, may lead the way. Why? Because new mothers will have greater access to expensive ($250 and up) but more efficient electric breast pumps. And nursing bras that make it simple to latch on to baby or a breast pump could be the next best bra solution.

Breast pumping bras have been around for a few years. Brands like Simple Wishes and Pump Ease have created a convenient way for lactating mothers to keep breast pumps attached to their chest, leaving their hands “free” to do something else. They are not “bras” in the traditional sense, and some simply adapt a woman’s existing nursing bra. But they are useful and necessary for those who use a breast pump, which turns out to be any new mother who can’t be with her nursing baby 24/7 but wants to maintain her milk supply. Even breast pump manufacturers, like Medela, offer their own version of a “hands free” bra.

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Simple Wishes

The standard nursing bra has changed over the last decade. Some brands like Hot Milk, Cake, and You! Lingerie offer new mothers feminine and flirty designs. Others have introduced more efficient nursing clips, innovative fabrics, and flexible wires that better adjust to expanding and contracting lactating breasts. But the focus has been on baby and a more stylish, comfortable mother. It’s not the functional relationship between a new mom and her electric breast pump. A woman must remove, or add another “bra,” to do one or the other task.

Now with the Affordable Care Act, women will have part or all of the cost of an electric breast pump covered. Demand for these medical devices is already on the rise and suppliers are working to keep them in stock. Under existing laws, employers are required to provide workers with a private room and unpaid break times for pumping. A nursing bra that works with or without baby may be the best solution for these women.

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The Dairy Fairy

A new hybrid nursing/pumping bra has been developed and is now on the market. The Dairy Fairy Arden bra supports both breastfeeding functions, whether it’s baby or pump. Simple Wishes is also close to launching a new combination nursing and pumping bra. It could just be a matter of time before major lingerie industry brands come out with their own models.

What do you think? Will changing breastfeeding patterns or increased use of breast pumps change the way maternity and nursing bras are designed?

 

 

 

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Missing the Mark: October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns

November 4, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

breast-cancer-flyer2How do you make decisions regarding your breast health? Do you schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor or keep up with the latest medical research? Would a social media breast cancer awareness campaign guide your actions? This October exposed some new and unusual methods of getting women to focus on their breasts, turning to social media to get their message out. They introduced catchy hashtags, produced humorous and funny videos, and tapped into the viral nature of photo sharing websites.

First up is a “Tweeting Bra,” created by an advertising agency. This unique piece of lingerie, worn by a popular female celebrity, tweets out a breast self-exam reminder each time it’s unhooked. Another Instagram-inspired promotion introduced #Mamming, an exercise where men and women post and share photos of themselves resting their chests on various flat surfaces. Their goal is to bring attention to early detection and “embrace the awkwardness of mammograms.” Finally, Coppafeel’s #brahijack enlists popular bra brands to sew breast check labels into their products. Women are reminded to pay attention to their breasts each time they put on, or take off, their bra.

These new breast cancer awareness campaigns share the following:

All target a youthful audience. User demographics confirm that social media is populated by 18-29 year old men and women. Coppafeel’s breast check labels will soon to be included on Curvy Kate bras, a brand geared to younger, full-busted women. Breast cancer in women under 30 can be more aggressive, but it is still far less common. The two biggest risk factors for the disease are being female and growing older, with an average age at diagnosis of 61 years. Could some of these awareness efforts be reaching out to a younger audience as a way to remind elders to “check their boobies?” That’s a point made on the #Mamming website. Under their “Get Involved” tab, option B (after posting a photo of your flattened chest) urges readers to “[t]alk to the important women in your life about getting a mammogram. Like your mom.”

Sexualize, objectify, or otherwise trivialize (via cute photos or funny videos) women’s bodies. While the best of intentions may be involved, campaigns like the “Twitter Bra” get attention with sexually suggestive photos of unclothed women or cleavage shots. The #Mamming pictures are all fully clothed and their point is to make light of an often painful, uncomfortable, and scary medical procedure. Coppafeel’s brand salutes breasts as sexual foreplay. Some argue that there’s nothing inherently wrong with using this approach to promote a worthy cause. But many, especially those living and dying with breast cancer, are angered and offended by these sexual references, and insensitive tactics.

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Promote specific methods of early cancer detection that may or may not be necessary. Routine mammography screening isn’t recommended for women under 40, and the most recent guidelines suggest women wait until age 50 (unless other risk factors are present). Other researchers point out that women should be made more “aware” of the downside of screening, which includes unnecessary surgery and treatment. Research shows that teaching women to perform monthly breast self-exams doesn’t reduce deaths from breast cancer. No one suggests that women not be breast self-aware or report changes to a physician, just as they would with any other concern. But tests and other exams should be considered in the context of a woman’s entire medical history.

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Fewer women may talk to their doctors about breast cancer risk issues. A recent survey (conducted at mammography centers) found that an astounding 90% of women either over or under-estimate their lifetime risk of breast cancer. When asked, another 40% said they had never discussed breast cancer risk with a physician. That’s seems like a great deal of ignorance for a topic that’s gotten so much attention and “awareness.”

Could all the cause marketing, pink messaging, and breast cancer awareness social media campaigns be missing the mark? Are they doing more harm than good?

What’s your view?

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What Defines Real Breasts? Curvy Kate’s Star In a Bra Challenged

October 1, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

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Curvy Kate, the brand that brings sassy style and fit to the D-K crowd is under fire for their “Star in a Bra” contest. Some wearers of this popular and well-liked bra brand aren’t happy that contest rules specifically exclude women with breast “enhancements.” And, according to the blogosphere, this rule applies to any woman who has had breast surgery, be it reduction, reconstruction, or lift.  Curvy Kate has responded to criticism by asking for input and may consider revising the rule.

But should they? Some believe Curvy Kate is right to make this breast distinction. After all, the brand was created to celebrate the regular, full-busted female body. It’s falsely assumed that many naturally larger breasted women are that size … Read more

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Bra Sizes and Bigger Breasts: Where’s the Science?

August 12, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

Recent survey results from bra retailer, Intimacy, revealed that American women are wearing bigger bras than they did 20 years ago. The average size reportedly jumped from 34B to 34DD. Media outlets covered this news with headlines such as “breasts getting bigger,” or “America’s cups runneth over.” It was shocking to think that women’s busts had tripled in size. But is it true? Or could women, thanks to a booming lingerie industry, have finally opened their eyes to their correct bra size? What are the facts?

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This isn’t the first time that larger bra sizes have been in the news. Some think it’s linked to the soaring rates of obesity. Plus size bra offerings have expanded over the years. But while … Read more

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Does The Lingerie Industry Let Women Down?

July 8, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

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There’s a growing segment of the female population ignored by the intimate apparel industry. They desire beautiful and stylish quality intimates, are savvy consumers, and have the necessary disposable income to buy what they want. So what’s their problem? They, like me, are women 50 years of age and older.

I understand why lingerie and swimwear models reflect the attributes of youth. Perky breasts, tight skin, and flat abs make great backdrops against a beach or bedroom. But intimate apparel is also focused on a younger demographic fashion style, whether it’s the cut of the garment, color, or girlish embellishment. It seems best suited for shapes decades away from the effects of gravity.

Brands have stepped up the style and sexy factor … Read more

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Your Bra Size Matters Less Than You Think

June 24, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

The Jockey Company introduced a “revolutionary” new bra sizing system a few weeks ago. Why? Because experts agree that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra. This is thought to be due, in part, to the inadequacy of the current antiquated measuring tape method of determining bra size. But does it even matter? What if women wear the “wrong” size bra for all the “right” reasons?

Jockey sent me their new Fit Kit and gave me the opportunity to try one of their bras, free of charge. I had nothing to lose and every woman’s dream to gain: a new and well-fitting bra. The kit turned out to be a set of 10 different size plastic cups plus a measuring … Read more

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The Rising Price of Breast Milk

June 10, 2013

By Elisabeth Dale

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Two studies this week brought more news of the value of breastfeeding. The first was research showing that exclusively breastfed babies, when compared to those fed formula, received an extra boost to their brains. The second found that increased rates of breastfeeding led to millions of dollars saved in health care costs, from reducing the incidence of breast cancer, hypertension, and heart disease. These stories emphasized the medicinal properties of breast milk, how well it can protect and enhance not just the health and well being of mother and baby, but society at large.

Then I read about a new breast milk flavored lollipop. There’s no actual breast milk involved in the making of this candy. It simply attempts to replicate … Read more

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Elisabeth Dale

Breast Briefs

 

 
Elisabeth Dale is an internationally renowned breast expert and author, and the founder of www.TheBreastLife.com. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Tyra Banks Show, BBC World News, NPR, and has been featured in The New York Times, Cosmo, Glamour, Men’s Health, and the Sunday London Times.
 
In her book, bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls, and on her website, Elisabeth entertains, educates and encourages AAA through KK cups to learn more about their bodies and support the changes their breasts go through from puberty to motherhood and menopause.
 

 
At TheBreastLife.com, women can bare and share their intimate feelings and stories about their bodies (mammoirs), and experience a safe haven to explore new and innovative products, services, clothing, and surgical options. You can visit www.TheBreastLife.com to find the best breast gear and garments that have earned The Breast Life Seal of Approval from a trusted community of product testers, and share your finds and feelings with an active community of other smart, stylish and interested women.