Maternity Bra Company Gets Its Start In Durham

By Jessaca Giglio The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Anyone who's nursed a baby knows it can sometimes be as frustrating as it is rewarding.

Add pumping to the mix and it can become pretty overwhelming.

Melissa Holland, a mother of four, is hoping to ease the stress of it all with BeliBea, a maternity bra company she's started out of her Durham home.

"To me, a maternity bra is one that a mom who is a nursing mother (can use) to be able to provide for their baby," Holland said. "Our maternity bra is different because it's for nursing and pumping."

Holland has a background in textile design, and came up with the idea for the bra after she struggled with breastfeeding her first child, who was born in 2008, when she went back to work.

By the time she had her third baby in 2012, she had created prototypes that she wore to nurse and pump.

BeliBea bras, made from nylon and spandex, have two flaps, one that unsnaps to allow for pumping, and another that opens for nursing.

The pumping flap allows women to fit two pump shields inside the bra and pump hands free. The bras work with most pump brands such as Medela and Ameda, and can be used with both separating and non-separating shields, Holland said.

"We've had a lot of response that it's a very comfortable bra," she said.

Bras can be purchased through BeliBea's website, and Holland is in the midst of getting the products stocked at Rex Hospital's Lactation Station, a retail shop inside the hospital that carries breastfeeding materials such as pumps, nursing pillows and educational materials. She also hopes to eventually work with other retailers and hospitals.

Right now, the bras come in one color -- nude -- and a single, seamless, soft-cup style, but Holland says she is in product development to expand the selection to include a camisole version and larger sizes.

Sizes range from 32B to 44DD, but come sized as small, medium, large and extra large and stretch to larger sizes. All bras are $49.95, and have a 30-day return policy.

"With our bra we want to make sure we want to provide nursing and pumping functionality -- along with comfort -- so you can enjoy your baby and lessen your stress," Holland said.

BeliBea bras are available at belibea.com.

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