Hands-Free Pumping Solutions

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If you are pumping, or planning on pumping – you will want a way to do this hands-free. Although not necessary, I promise you will not want to sit there for 15-20 minutes holding the pump. With a hands-free option you can use your phone, read a book, use the tv remote, or anything else you may want to do while pumping. I am here to talk about the different options for hands free pumping to make your life easier!

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Do-It-Yourself

The cheapest and quickest way to find a pumping bra is to make one yourself. There are two popular options.

Option #1: Sports Bra Modification

You can cut holes in one of your old sports bras! This is a great option for many reasons. It’s cheaper so you can have multiple pumping bras for the price of one and it has straps for more support.

All you need is a polyester/nylon sports bra, pen, scissors, and a lighter. It’s only 4 easy steps and you have yourself a totally functional pumping bra!

  1. Take out the bra pads
  2. Use your pump parts to trace a circle so the parts barely fit through.
  3. Cut out the holes
  4. Now take your lighter and quickly heat up the holes so it melts the fabric to prevent it from ripping or fraying.

Option #2: Hair tie Hack

If you don’t want to cut holes in any of your clothing, you can pump hands-free with only two hair ties.

This method is super simple! You just hook the hair tie around your flange and connect the other side to the snap on your nursing bra! You can check out the FREE DIY tutorial written by Catharine Decker, MD. This tutorial is a step-by-step guide, complete with images on the References page! SUBSCRIBE to our weekly newsletter to receive the password for this and more free content exclusively for our members!

Purchase

If you are looking to purchase a way to pump hands-free, there are a few different options out there.

Option #3: Buying a pumping bra

I love the Simple Wishes one on Amazon, and it has great customer feedback. It comes with straps and an extender for the front zipper. This is a great feature because when you are pregnant, your rib cage gets bigger. Right after delivery I had to use the extender and now, 5 months postpartum, it fits perfectly without the extender. This is a great option because it’s so easy; you can just zip it on over your clothes, pump, and then unzip. They also make pumping bras that double as nursing bras. These typically have a dual clip so the top layer folds down to uncover the pumping portion of the bra, and if you fold both layers down it allows you to breastfeed.

Option #4: Hands-free pumping parts

These are becoming more popular. I’m sure most of you have heard of the Willow Pump – the new and noteworthy pump that is a collection cup and pump all in one. You can just place it in your bra and it doesn’t have cords, plugs, or anything else visible outside of your bra. The downside to this pump is that most insurance providers do not cover it yet. In addition, the collection bags inside the cups are specific to Willow and can cost a pretty penny over the course of your pumping journey.

A less costly option is to buy the Freemie Cups (here on Amazon) and use them with your insurance covered pump. These cups work with

  • Freemie Freedom Double Electric and Equality Double Manual pumps,
  • Medela Pump in Style
  • Symphony
  • Lactina
  • Ameda Purely Yours
  • Hygeia Enjoye Q
  • Philips Double Electric
  • Lucinacare Melodi
  • NUK Expressive

It includes a connection kit for the Medela and Hygeia pumps but they sell the kits for Ameda, Philips, Lucina and NUK separately (Freemie part FG020).

I was able to adjust the tubing to fit my Spectra S2 pump without buying any special parts. In order to do this you have to:

  1. Cut about 5” off of your spectra tubing and connect to your pump
  2. Now attach the backflow preventers followed by the remainder of your spectra tubing
  3. Insert the freemie connectors
  4. Attach the freemie tubing to the other end of the connectors
  5. Insert the freemie tubing into your freemie collection cups

It’s super easy and doesn’t require any additional parts! The other great thing about having the backflow preventers close to the pump is that you can enclose the pump and backflow preventers inside of a pump bag (or large lunchbox to save money). This eliminates almost all of the sound associated with pumping.  

My Experience

I pump at my cubicle with the Freemie cups attached to my Spectra S2 pump. My pump is fully contained in a large insulated lunchbox (to suppress sounds) with the tubing and power cord coming out of the side zipper. I thread the tubing up the inside of my shirt and connect to the freemie cups inside my bra. [Side note: I love my nursing bras (here on Amazon) because after 5 months of using them and putting my freemies in them, they haven’t stretched out yet]. This is my favorite method of hands-free pumping because it not only allows me to continue working while pumping, it gives me hours of extra time to spend with my baby. I pump 5-6 times at work and at 15-20 minutes each, I save about 2 hours of wasted pumping time per day.

There are some down sides to this system, but I personally feel the plus sides far outweigh the minuses.

  • First, if you lean forward too far, milk can get into the tubing. This is ultimately why I decided to use the Spectra over my Medela because it has a backflow prevention system, just in case.
  • There are some reports of the cups leaking. I have used these hundreds of times now and have never once had this happen. When I first purchased them I did boil all the appropriate parts per the directions. I’m not sure if this is why I haven’t had any issues, or if other people may have gotten faulty parts. I would suggest buying them from a store with a good return policy just in case.
  • Finally, I don’t love how hard it is to see the milk inside the cups while pumping. This isn’t a huge issue since I’m at work and shouldn’t be looking down my shirt while pumping. However, I have had two instances now where I put the cup on crooked and didn’t collect a single drop of milk from one side. If the plastic was a little more clear, it would be easier to tell if you are getting any milk after a quick peek.

I hope you are able to find a hands-free pumping solution that works best for you!

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