A pumping bra is a very useful article of clothing if you need to pump often. Its main function is to free up your hands: the bra keeps the pump flanges in the correct position on your breasts, so that you don’t need to use your hands to do it.
You can buy pumping bras or bustiers from a number of well-known baby brands, but they are actually very easy to make. No sewing or other crafty skills required!
Making a pumping bra
You will need:
- A bra: I like to use a sportsbra-type bra that fits snugly and is made from a densely woven material. A snug fit is important to ensure that the pump flanges will be kept in close contact with your breast. If you use a bra that is too loose-fitting, the flanges will move around and they will end up damaging your nipples. By the way, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on this: I saw the ideal bra at a small Chinatown shop for less than R50 (that’s equivalent to about US$3!)
- A pen or marker of some sort
- A scissors
- Optional: fabric glue or sewing kit
- Put on your bra and shuffle it around until it is nice and comfortable
- Use your pen to mark where your nipples are
- Take off the bra
- Use the scissors to cut a small horizontal slit where you’ve marked. Cut it smallish at first – the diameter of the tube that will be running through it is a good size to start with. You can always make it bigger, but if you cut it too big to start with, you’re kind of stuck.
- Before you put your bra back on, insert the flange of your pump. Insert it from the narrow end; you don’t want the shield to fit through the slit or it may fall out while in use! If the slit is too small, cut it a bit bigger until you can just fit the flange through.
- Finally, if you’re using a bra made from t-shirt material (like the one I’ve used in the pictures), it might be a good idea to seal the edged of the hole with fabric glue so that they don’t unravel. Or, if you’re clever with a needle and thread, hem it with blanket stitch (way too much effort for me!)
And that’s it. See, I said it would be easy!
Using your pumping bra
You can decide whether you want to wear the bra full time or just put it on at pumping times. If you wear it full time, you will have to either put in breast pads or wear another bra over it. Remember, your nipples are poking through for all the world to see! Breast pads work well for preventing uncomfortable situations with people staring.
When you are ready to start pumping, mover your breasts around inside the bra so that your nipples are peeking through the holes you’ve cut. Insert your pump flanges and position them over your nipples. Switch on your pump, make sure the flanges are seated comfortably around the nipple, and voila: you’re pumping hands free. Enjoy a cup of tea, a good book, or (if you absolutely must) working at your computer- you are a multitasking rock star!