When I gave birth to my first son 27 years ago, the hospital’s lactation consultant recommended Fruit of the Loom’s Beyondsoft Front Closure Cotton Bra. I was 22, and my husband and I were struggling financially, so I was happy to learn I could pick up the bra from Walmart. At first glance, it was underwhelming — plain and not terribly sexy — but I liked the feel of the fabric, the simplicity, and the price, so I plucked several two-packs off the rack.
I breastfed my first son for nearly two years and wore the bra day and night. Nursing newborns can be challenging, with nipple sensitivity, leakage, and throbbing when I lay on my side. That’s why what I loved most about the bra was that I could sleep in it, and it didn’t even feel like I was wearing anything. The material also added enough support to protect my swelling breasts without irritating my sensitive skin — Spandex usually gives me a rash, but the bra’s 95 percent cotton composition didn’t make me itchy at all.
Twenty-two months later, I gave birth to my second son and nursed him for two years — and continued to wear the same Fruit of the Loom bra. And even though we had more money during my second pregnancy, I stuck to my tried-and-true Fruit of the Loom, often unsnapping the hook-and-eye closures to nurse or simply lifting the stretchy bra altogether as I became more proficient in breastfeeding.
Then in my late 30s, I had a breast reduction, a lift, and implants. After I got out of the operating room, it felt like two gorillas were trying to pound their way out of my chest. Once again, I returned to my trusty bra for recovery. I couldn’t lift my arms or stretch them behind me, but I was able to easily snap the bra on from the front, which also let me comfortably clean my wounds. And once again, the bra added ample support to help relieve my aching breasts.
Now I’m single and an empty nester, but I still make an annual trek to Walmart just for this purchase (even though my gray bra from the mid-’90s is in near perfect shape). This year I turned 50, and my breasts have been more tender than usual, likely a sign of perimenopause. But in this new phase of my life, I still return to the same bra for comfort — even though I no longer use the snaps to nurse, as always, it offers the right amount of suppleness and support to help me sleep through the night.