Want to win yourself a lovely Cake Maternity Bra? Feels like it’s been ages since we’ve had any kind of giveaway, so I was delighted when they got in touch. It’s hard finding decent clothes when you’re plus-size, OR pregnant, let alone both, so it’s great to find another retailer offering some bigger size options!
If you are struggling with maternity clothes, I’ve made a few suggestions here of retailers to try. I also suggest alternatives; items to look for in normal ranges that can work as maternitywear. A good number of queries we get in the Big Birthas Facebook Group are requesting product recommendations, so that’s a great source of info and support too.
Before I review the bras, or get to the competition, I want to be completely transparent. I have not received any payment to write this post. I’ve merely asked to keep the products, have full control over what I write, and give a bra away. As it says on every page (right, or below, depending on device):
“BigBirthas is a non-profit website part-funded by Google AdSense Advertising and affiliate links via Skimlinks, Amazon, and others. This doesn’t affect you in any way, but clicking on links and making purchases do send a few pennies our way each month which contributes towards the site’s hosting costs, which otherwise come out of my own pocket”.
So thank you if you do happen to click through and buy a Cake Maternity bra (use the code BIGBIRTH15 and you’ll get 15% off!) and support the site in this way.
The Cake Maternity website
So, who are Cake Maternity? I’d not heard of them, but they’re an Australian company (the products themselves are made in China – what isn’t!?). Their founder, Tracey, set up the business 18 years ago, and she’s been very hands on with communicating with me via email, so is clearly very much at the helm.
Reviews on their site are excellent, but on UK Trustpilot are almost non-existent, which initially made me wary – but I guess is a good sign that people aren’t complaining about them much as they’ve been selling in the UK for a couple of years now! They offer 45 day returns, which is helpful – in the last few years buying bras from other retailers, I know I’ve sent back WAY more bras than I’ve kept! It can be impossible to assess whether a bra will be perfect for you from just a picture!
The site itself is uncluttered and classy, with some really lovely black and white candid photos to illustrate their blog and various campaigns – e.g. the the “We See You, Warrior” campaign. (Not sure how I feel about being cast as a ‘warrior’ to be honest!?)
They use models of varying sizes and body types, with no obvious photo editing or fakery, which I find very honest and really helpful. There’s nothing more pointless than only seeing your ‘busty’ 42HH bra being modelled by someone who’s clearly a 32B at most!
These are the 3 styles of bras I received to review – and which are the options to choose from if you win:
Taffy Busty Non-Wire Nursing Bra
Timtams Flexi-wire Maternity & Nursing Bra
Popping Candy Maternity & Nursing Bralette (F – H Cup)
They arrived beautifully boxed and packaged in tissue paper (everything recyclable), and looked really well constructed.
We expect such a lot from a bra. Support, comfort, attractiveness… When you’ve got big boobs, an over the shoulder boulder holder is a serious piece of engineering!
I was really pleased with how comfortable Taffy was to wear. Nice, wide straps, but not so wide that they fold and dig in. Sturdy ones. Really supportive under-boob elastic, and 4 hooks and eyes to fasten at the back, with 6 different fastening positions, to allow for flexibility. Excellent quality drop-cup clips for one handed unfastening. This was great!
You know how the first step of a TV makeover is to get the large-breasted woman a decent bra? Well, this was that moment. Suddenly my boobs were up, out and, dare I say it, perky? Certainly made any outfit hang better. Incredible support considering there are no underwires!
However, by the end of a long day, I was beginning to have some discomfort. While there are no underwires, there are plastic ‘bones’ in the side panels.
Initially, these posed no problem, but as the day went on, they began to bend and dig in at the bottom. The next day, when I put the bra back on, the discomfort was immediate, as they pressed on the areas that had clearly been irritated the day before. This was such a shame, as the bra had been otherwise perfect for a good 6-8 hours!
So, I did something I’ve never done with a bra before, and just removed the ‘bones’! You can see by the picture above just how misshapen they were after a day of wear.
It was actually really easy to extract the ‘bones’ from their channels! The cut is almost invisible as I did it internally, in line with the top elastic (being very careful to not damage any of the stitching!). I’m pleased to report that this completely resolved the issue. The bra is now comfortable to wear all day, with seemingly no detriment to the fit or support offered.
Would I recommend Taffy?
The elastic is firm, but not restrictive, the straps are wide and flexible, with just the right amount of support and weight distribution. The metal buckles and plastic clips look reassuringly sturdy, and do their job well. One-handed release is definitely possible – though if you’re as amply breasted as me, getting the boob back in the cup and the clip fastened is still a two-handed job!
All in all, I’d really recommend this bra, after modification. It’s attractive without being overly fussy. The lace looks to be of good quality and is beautifully pattern-matched across the top of the cups, a subtle hint to quality. The internal cotton fabric is soft and comfortable, and probably offers a smidge of absorbency in the case of a drop or two of leakage. The external fabric is sheer and silky, and so clothes move well over the top. I can tell I will be happy to wear this bra often.
When I was pregnant and breastfeeding, the advice then was that underwires were a complete no-no. This advice has now changed, and so now, so long as you’re comfortable, underwires should not be seen as a problem. I was therefore really interested to try out this one, especially as I haven’t worn an underwired bra for over a decade!
Before getting pregnant, I always wore underwired bras. But I don’t know whether it’s because I’m out of the habit of them, because my boobs are bigger since having kids, or some other reason, but I just didn’t get on with them in this bra. I doubt it’s a problem with this bra in particular, more underwires in general, if I’m honest.
If I was sat upright, or stood, it was really comfortable. But as soon as I leaned over to any degree, I found the bottom of the wires dug into my chest. It just wasn’t working for me, I couldn’t do simple, practical stuff like unload the dishwasher or washing machine, without being uncomfortable. Even working at my laptop wasn’t great.
You can probably guess what’s coming next…
Yep. It was inevitable – especially after such a success with removing the bones in the Taffy bra! Must admit I was a bit more sceptical that the bra would remain usable after removing the underwires… But it was absolutely fine!
Look mum, no underwires! Here I am afterwards at a barbeque, with ample uplift and cleavage to hold 3 skewers and a fork (there was no nearby table and I got fed up holding them for my kids!!)
Funnily enough, Tim Tams also has the side boning that I found problematic with Taffy, yet I didn’t have a problem with them! No idea what the difference is – maybe the cut means the bones sit in a different place?
Would I recommend Tim Tams?
So, now the bra is perfect – comfortable, supportive, classy, understated (apart from the little gem in the cleavage, and that’s fine). I’m sure the wires did SOMEthing, but from my perspective, whatever it was, wasn’t worth the downside. You may have a different experience of course!
As for the rest of the bra, I’m just as happy with it as I was with the Taffy. Tim Tams is incredibly well made, is functional and attractive. I think it will last well and I’ll wear it often. If I had to choose between them, I prefer Taffy, but Tim Tams is a close second.
I must confess I find myself a bit confused with the proliferation of the word ‘bralette‘ lately in lingerie. A Google search for ‘bralette’ is no more illuminating, with different sites offering completely contradictory descriptions!
A bralette is a more relaxed and comfortable alternative to a bra. It usually has soft cups that offer minimal support… the design is often more intricate and fashionable.
A bralette is a less structured version of a bra – it’s a hybrid garment that lies somewhere between a bra and a tank top.
A bralette is a lightweight bra designed particularly for comfort and support of your breasts.
You confused? Me too! How can a bralette be designed particularly for support, while being less structured and offering minimal support? Is it more intricate, or plain like a tank top!? Beats me.
I have tried bralettes from other stores in the past – but have usually found them to be of the first type. Flimsy, lacy pieces of nothing. Pleasing to look at (if you like having droopy, lacy boobs), but with no support, you might as well consider them nipple ornaments!
Cake Maternity Bras don’t exactly define what they mean by bralette, but they do say this:
It’s a common misconception that bralettes provide no support! Here at Cake, all of our maternity and nursing bralettes are specially engineered to grow with you during pregnancy, and support you through your fluctuations while breastfeeding.
Popping Candy is NOTHING like the droopy lacy types. It’s much more like the third description; very plain. No lace, no adornments: This bra is PURE FUNCTION.
Comfortable enough to sleep in!
Oh my god, it is SO comfortable!! I even wore one for 24 hours, sleeping in it, just to fully test it. At no point did I feel the need to take the thing off and fling it across the room to set my boobs free. I didn’t do that with the other two Cake Maternity bras either, to be fair, but I have done that with many a bra in the past!
Its straps are wide and supportive (but not too wide), the back and underband the same.
The back fastening differs from the other two designs in that there are 6 rows of 5 hooks and eyes, not 4, but otherwise very similar.
The difference comes, I think from the internal construction, which you can sort of see in the pic below.
There are folded-over stretchy panels both horizontally AND vertically, providing structure and support. Not rigid structure, though, elastic structure.
Most nursing bras just have a single piece of fabric to provide a connection from the underband to the clip, for when the cup is dropped for feeding. This usually runs across the top of the cup and down the side. Those single pieces become superfluous when the cup is reattached, as it’s the visible cup that carries the weight.
In Popping Candy, these support panels really are integral. They add a surprising amount of weight to the garment, but their value is undeniable. They also provide a handy place to tuck a breast pad, if you’ve got concerns about leaking!
Would I recommend Popping Candy?
Absolutely, yes, even though the overall look isn’t something that grabs me. I prefer a bit of lace and frippery in my lingerie, if I’m honest. The pastel shades aren’t my bag either, I prefer bold colours. Whereas Taffy and TimTams made my boobs really perky, Popping Candy gives more of a flattened, ‘minimiser’ appearance… Which again, isn’t my preference.
But if you’re looking for something for those first few weeks post partum, where your boobs are sore and massive and alien, and you just need something comfortable and practical that works…? My god, this is that bra. And, I must confess, on a day to day basis, this is the one I’m reaching for. No, I don’t particularly like the way it looks, but I like how it FEELS.
Is it me, or is this a bit bonkers?
One slightly bonkers thing about the Popping Candy bra is the care label. Whereas the other bras all have a perfectly normal tag type label attached, Popping Candy’s is printed. On the fabric of the bra itself! In pink!?
I don’t know if the printing is more legible on other background colours, but in normal light, on the rosewood shade I chose, I have zero hope of discerning any of it. The printing actually shows up slightly better on this photo than it does in real life – it was only after days of wearing and laundry, when I sat down to write this review and had to search for the label that I found it!?
The website lists “zero itchy garment tags” as a feature of this bra… But I’m not so sure it’s a feature I want. I also wonder if this will be even less legible in time… I’d need to be able to read it, particularly the size, if I want to order more in a few months once I’ve deleted the order confirmations!
However, this point leads me neatly onto the topic of:
With the evident quality of construction, I’m confident these bras are going to last a decent amount of time.
But, and it’s a big but, and one that’s a huge bugbear of mine. The labels on Taffy and Tim Tams say ‘Cold Hand Wash Only’, which is frankly unrealistic for most people, let alone someone caring for a tiny human! Obviously, I completely ignored this/didn’t actually realise, and they went in 30/40 degree machine washes, as per usual.
I’ve no idea what the Popping Candy ‘label’ says in this regard (see above!), but the website reads: “Cold machine wash me in a delicates bag. I’m by no means delicate but your other clothes might be. Please let me drip dry.”
30/40 degrees is cold-ish, right?
All bras machine washed fine, and I’m totally going to keep laundering this way; I have no time or patience for handwashing! But I have in the past not bought garments specifically because of the care instructions, so if Cake Maternity could reconsider this, I don’t think I’m the only one who’d approve. To be fair, the product pages state Cold Hand Wash “Recommended” not “Only”.
I do recognise that this means the bras might not last as long. I obviously wouldn’t tumble dry them, that would be lunacy, and with less than 50% cotton (the rest synthetic) they dry pretty swiftly anyway. But I’ve always washed all my other bras in the machine, I’m not going to change now!
I’ll update this review in a few months time with my observations of how they hold up longer term though, particularly given my ‘mistreatment’. If there’s no update yet, assume all still good!
Minor website niggles
I can’t comment on their checkout process or customer service of Cake Maternity as I’ve used neither. But occasionally the site belies its Australian roots, with mentions of bra sizing we don’t have in the UK.
I also had the problem that some of the bras are listed in standard UK sizes, while others are in the L XL XXL 3XL format. This means that simple filtering is tricky and can hide bras that would fit you, if you don’t know to select both.
I then tried their bra calculator to see what sizes would map to my measurements, only to be told that they had no bras in my size! Anyway, a quick email to Tracey confirmed that they had 3 suitable bras, so not quite sure what went wrong! I’m pretty sure she’s getting the tech bods on to that, so hopefully will work fine now if you try, but something to be aware of.
Lastly, I must confess it was a bit of a disappointment that a site with so many bras, and seemingly a focus on empowerment, in reality stocks very few options in large sizes. For example – the hands free pumping and nursing bras stop at an XL or FF – this would have been a godsend when I was donating to the milk bank!
Even when a design does have larger sizes, those sizes aren’t carried in all colours. Popping candy is available in 8 colourways if you’re a L. But 5 of those colours are unavailable for anyone who needs a 3 or 4XL. But it’s a start!
Price-wise they’re not cheap, but they’re certainly not expensive either, when compared with other similar brands. From what I’ve seen, the quality of construction and fabrics and attention to detail is definitely there – you can see where your money is going. I’d suggest that they’re pretty good value (notwithstanding the fact that I needed to alter two of them to make them comfortable for me!).
This certainly hasn’t been my experience with other bra brands lately – I’ve tried a LOT of (non-maternity/breastfeeding) bras over the past few years. But I ended up sending 99% of them back, as they were frankly just rubbish – sized up versions of smaller bras that just weren’t fit for purpose, offering no support, no comfort, or neither!
While I kept a few in desperation, I found I was still reaching for my decade old breastfeeding bras in preference as they’re just SO MUCH BETTER! I am certain these are going to be the replacements I need, and I’m hopeful they will last just as well. While I no longer need the drop-cup function, they’re quite simply better for my body than any other bra of any type I can find right now!
Competition and Discount for Big Birthas readers!
Sorry, this competition is now closed. However, you can still use the code BIGBIRTH15 on the Cake Maternity website, to get 15% off any purchase. There’s also free delivery when you spend £50.