Monday, November 04, 2013

Mammal Monday: how to make a hands-free pumping bra

Mammal Monday: how to make a hands-free pumping bra

I've typed this up on Twitter and facebook enough times that I feel like it might be helpful to somebody somewhere to have it floating around the internet being google-able. When I found out I was going to have to pump after every feeding with newborn Nico, it felt a bit grim. The nurses at the hospital showed me how to hold the flanges on mostly-successfully with one hand / arm so that I could have one hand free, but I wasn't very good at it. When every drop of milk feels like a precious commodity, there's really no amount of leakage-loss that feels acceptable. I knew that hands-free pumping bras were a thing that were available, but the hospital shop didn't carry any large enough to fit me and I didn't want to spend that kind of money on something that only sort of fit. Now Medela makes a hands-free band that goes around the middle and zips up the front, but I don't remember seeing those back when Nico was new. Also, they're still expensive. 

Luckily, shortly after we took Nico home the wife of one of MB's coworkers told him to tell me that I could make a hands-free pumping bra by cutting holes in a sports bra. Game changer! I assume I would've eventually come up with it on my own, but newly postpartum, exhausted, emotional, and saddled with feeding routines that ate up hours of my days, I was not at my creative best. As soon as MB brought that tip home, I dug out a raggedy old sports bra and sacrificed it for the cause. It was great! Suddenly pumping time did double-duty as time to read a book or mess around online via my phone.

Once I went back to work, I had to pump three times a day. I was lucky enough to have a closet adjoining my office that doubled as a darkroom, so it had a little sink and a counter with electrical outlets. I still used my sports bra, but I had to take my shirt and bra completely off, put on the sports bra, and then put my shirt back on every time I pumped and all the in-between nudity at work always made me jumpy and uncomfortable. Then one day I realized there was a better way - a way to accomplish hands-free pumping without having to take my shirt off at all. Here's how to do it:

First, you'll need a regular-style bra, with a clasp. Underwire or not doesn't really matter and the bra doesn't really have to fit. The cups just have to be large enough to securely hold the flanges against the breast. I got one for $7 on clearance at Target.

Second, cut the straps free where they meet the bra band at the back, like so:

This allows the bra straps to be tied behind your neck like a halter top after fastening the clasp of the band as you normally would.

Third, cut an X across each cup where you want the flanges to poke through. I recommend putting the flanges against the breasts, then using a pen to mark where the stems would come out of the bra.

That's it! You now have a hands-free pumping bra that you can put on without taking off your shirt. Simply hitch up your shirt, open the cups of your nursing bra (or hitch your non-nursing bra up over your boobs), put on the hands-free bra, and tie the straps at the back of your neck. I prefer to feed the straps up through my shirt before tying them so I can pull my shirt back down over most of the exposed boobage, but that's optional. If the flanges of the pump start to pull free of the bra or tear the holes a little bit, you can whip stitch a few loops of thread one on top of another at the corners / ends of the pieces of the X that you cut. I thought about modeling this but even over a shirt I think that would be a bit much. You get the idea, though, I hope:

1 comment:

  1. I am shocked that some company has not tried to capitalize on this genius idea.