Hands-free pumping

By Catharine Decker, MD
Family Medicine/Urgent Care
Luther-Mayo-Midelfort Health Systems

Reprinted with permission from the author.

This tutorial was created for breastfeeding mothers, lactation consultants, breastfeeding educators, nurses, physicians and any other health care professionals and is intended to help breastfeeding mothers who must use a breast pump to express milk. There are many “hands-free pumping systems” available on the market today, but many are relatively complicated and expensive and/or require special bras or equipment. This simple method utilizes very inexpensive and readily available materials and functions well for most women.

Please feel free to copy and use these illustrations and instructions to share with your patients and other health care and lactation professionals. They were created with the intent to be shared and distributed for breastfeeding education purposes. You have my permission to print them out, copy and distribute them for educational purposes. You also have my permission to copy them and place them on your own breastfeeding education websites.

Begin with two elastic ponytail holder bands. (Rubber bands may be substituted, but are not quite as sturdy and may break with repeated use.) The ponytail holders are inexpensive and can be purchased at most discount stores.

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Overlap edges.

Loop the two elastic bands together to form a “figure-eight”.

 

Pull knot tight.

Meet “Mimi”, my model for this demonstration. If Mimi looks a little sad, it’s because she’s made of brown paper packaging tape. She’s my home-made dressmakers’ dummy, formerly used for fitting clothing when I’m sewing. She’s a few years old and a little out of shape after a few years of sitting down in my basement. She needs a good bra fitter, but she’ll have to do. :-) Please ignore the markings, they indicate landmarks for sewing purposes.

Prepare bottle. Then loop one end of the figure-eight band around the funnel.

Hook the other end of the figure of eight over the clasp on the nursing bra.

Position pump funnel over breast. The bra can be adjusted up around the funnel to help support it and the mother’s shirt can be positioned around the top of the funnel, which will also help support the funnel and bottle in place. As the bottle fills, the weight of the bottle provides additional stability.

For bras which fasten in the center or otherwise do not have compatible clasps to fasten the loop over, it is still possible to use this system. Before positioning the bottle funnel, loop the figure-eight piece around the bra strap as shown.

Wrap one loop over around the bra strap and pull through the other loop.

Pulling loop through.

Pull the loops taut.

Now proceed as before, fitting the open loop of the elastic holder around the bottle and positioning the bottle over the breast.

Bottle in position with center-fastening bra.

This photo illustrates hands-free pumping using the elastic band method together with a nursing shirt. The nursing shirt (or any shirt) when positioned around the funnels, helps hold everything in place.

All ready to pump. As you can see, this method can be quite discreet, especially if the mother has a nursing shirt. Any regular top can be adjusted down around the top of the funnels to give privacy as well. Note that the photo shows pumping one side only, but the method is perfectly suited to pumping both sides simultaneously, pumping one side or even pumping one breast while nursing baby on the other breast.

 

More resources

DIY Pumping Bras – Galactablog

Hands-Free Pumping – Breastfeeding in Combat Boots

DIY Free Breast Pumping Bra – another rubber band trick, with a different way to attach the elastics

DIY Nursing Tops – Galactablog

DIY Breastfeeding Hacks – Galactablog

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