Now that you have decided to pump breast milk for your baby, is time to look into different accessories that will help make the experience more pleasant for you. If you want to read more about breastfeeding versus pumping, read my post A Guide to Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding versus Pumping. If you don’t want to invest in buying a brand new pumping bra, then you can always make one at home using few tricks. But before going into the DIY, let see why you need a special bra in the first place.
Why Do You Need a Pumping Bra?
If you have not started pumping yet, you might not realize the importance of having a proper pumping bra, so let me tell you a little bit more about the pumping process. If you exclusively breastfeed, I recommend that you get an electric pump, as it will save you time, and it will make your life easier. Even so, you will still need to breastfeed for 20-30 minutes (assuming that you are using a double pump, if not, 20-30 minutes for each breast). I highly recommend using an electric double pump. The one that I used is the electric double pump from Medela, you can order it on Amazon, or you can buy it from your local pharmacy. From my experience, some pharmacies have higher prices for the same product, so make sure you have done your research beforehand.
A pumping bra will allow your hands to be free while you pump. In this way you will be able to comfort your baby if she starts crying. You can also read, crochet, knit, put on make-up, drink or eat, all while pumping.
The bra will also help the pumps flanges and the milk bottles stay as tight as possible to your body, to ensure perfect suction. If you were to use your hands to hold on to the pump, it would be very difficult to pump both breasts in the same time. If you somehow manage to do that, then you are truly stuck in one position, and you won’t even be able to switch on and off the pump (or adjust the suction level).
How Do You Make a Hands Free Pumping Bra Out Of A Sports Bra?
If you have plenty of sports bras that you are not really using anymore, then transforming one into a hands free pumping bra is a very good idea. Here are the steps that you need to follow:
- Draw a circle in the middle, where the nipple would fit, for both sides.
- Use a scissor, and cut through the material, making a small hole. If you have the pumps flange, then use that as the reference for your diameter. The smaller part of the flange should fit through it.
- If you have a sewing machine, then sew the margins, in a nice circle, if not, you can get pretty much the same effect using a needle.
Now, here are few things that you need to take into consideration when choosing your sports bra:
- The bra needs to be made of a stronger material, as you want it to be able to hold on the 2 flanges, but also the weight of the milk bottles, that will become heavier and heavier as the milk pours out.
- The bra needs to be really tight on your body, for the same reasons as above. Otherwise, you risk the flanges to just fall off while pumping. The flanges need to make a very tight contact with your skin in order to create the suction effect of the pump. If air is passing through, then the suction effect is lowered, and the pump will not work at its maximum power.
- Make sure the sports bra itself is not more expansive than the hands free pumping bra. You don’t want to ruin a very good sports bra, if you could get a new pumping bra for the same money, or even cheaper. Check prices on Amazon, or at your local stores.
Can You Use a Nursing Bra for Pumping?
The answer to this question is YES, you can do that. And this is exactly what I did, until I finally got my pumping bra. And I used it as a back-up every time I needed to wash my pumping bra. I prefer this option over the idea of creating my own pumping bra out of a sports bra. The reason is that in this way, I am not ruining a perfectly nice bra. And of course, I already have a nursing bra, because, I needed it anyway. There are different types of nursing bras, so if you have the one I have, here it is how you can use it during pumping. I did the same thing with a nursing tank top.
Step 1: Fit the pumps flange between the opening of the nursing bra.
Step 2: Close the nursing bra, while the flange sits in between. Make sure the flange sits fit on your breast.
Do You Wear Your Pumping Bra All Day?
Depending on the type of bra you chose, you could wear it all day long, if you would like to do so. Mine has small holes where the nipples are, for the flanges to fit, so it is not very comfortable to wear it all day. However, on Amazon you can find few brands that look like a normal bra, so you wouldn’t even notice that they are pumping or nursing bras. I did not have access to those types when I bought mine, but I would definitely like to try one out. They seem very comfortable, are good looking and provide the benefits of the regular pumping bras.
What Is The Best Hands Free Pumping Bra?
If I had to make a choice between different types of bras, I would definitely choose the Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra. The reason I would rather go for a professional pumping bra than making my own, besides the fact that it looks prettier, is that I can get much more out of the bra. It can be used for pumping, nursing, or just as a regular bra. The bra from Simple Wishes has a special design that allows you, the mother, to have quick access to the breasts, when you want to pump/breastfeed. The zipper in between the breasts, is a huge advantage, as it allows you to easily add the pump’s flanges.
If you want to read more about different types of bras, or what you need to look for, before buying a hands free pumping bra, then you can ready my post on Different Types of Pumping Bras.