If you are anything like me, there’s a good chance that at some point you have found yourself wondering if you really NEED a hands free pumping bra. When my husband and I were preparing for the arrival of our son, there were so many things on the list (given to us by our registry “consultant” at Babies R’ Us) that were labeled “necessary” and only a few labeled “nice to have.” The list was overwhelming and as you know, baby stuff is anything but cheap! Some of the items on the list seemed overkill but who was I to know? I had never been a mom before! My husband and I weeded through the list and picked and chose what we thought was important knowing that we could always add things later after baby’s arrival.
We registered for (and received) the “recommended” amount of three crib sheets (and for the record never needed three!) but when it came to a hands free pumping bra I was on the fence. I knew that I wanted to try to breastfeed but I wasn’t 100% confident that it would work out. I had signed up to receive a breast pump through my insurance (for more on that see my last blog post here) and after giving it some thought, I decided that a pumping bra fell into the “nice to have” category and that I could wait to get one until I saw how breastfeeding was going to go. I wasn’t planning to go back to a full time job anytime soon and I figured I could really live without one.
While you can indeed “live without” a pumping bra… it’s definitely a “nice to have.” I found myself pumping fairly often in the early days because my son was sleepy and surprisingly not super interested in nursing. I needed to pump to protect my supply when all efforts to encourage my son to latch failed. Eventually I began pumping and nursing at the same time because my body responded to the pump best that way (and I was trying to build a freezer stash to use around some family who didn’t like me nursing in public). Being hooked up to a pump next to a sleeping baby can be a bit stressful because you never know when the baby might wake up and it’s not exactly easy to just stop pumping and jump up at moments’ notice. Pumping and nursing at the same time is stressful in a different way… it’s tricky and sometimes you definitely feel like you need a third pair of hands! I am VERY lucky because my husband works from home. This means that I actually have a third pair of hands when I really need them. If I had been home alone with baby I’m not at all confident that I would have been able to pump at all.
Anyway… the point is that after a while, I decided that a hands free pumping bra would be a REALLY nice thing to have and went about looking to get one. Not knowing any better I ended up getting a Medela “Easy Expression Bustier.” The package showed a smiling woman on the front working away at her laptop as she pumped and I thought ok great! But… when I got home… not so great. At first, I chalked it up to “user error.”
The Medela “Easy Expression Bustier” is basically a piece of stretchy fabric with a zipper and two holes (one of either side of the zipper). It’s very “no frills” and at around $40 retail I have to say I had hoped for a little more. The first problem that I encountered is that because there was no shape or support to the bra, it fit completely differently depending on how “full” I happened to be. If I was particularly engorged, the size I originally bought was way too tight and I ended up buying a second one in a bigger size thinking that would be better. Of course though, on days when I wasn’t overly engorged, the bigger size was too big. If the bra was fitting “too big” it wasn’t tight enough to hold my flanges in place. The second problem that I encountered was with the flange “holes.” The way this bra is built (if you can really even call it a bra) there is very little room for customization. If your personal anatomy does not line up with where the holes are, it’s hard to keep the flange where it needs to be and therefor for it to be an affective pumping aid. Some days, the bra was helpful and gave me another hand to multitask with but some days it was more of a hindrance and I have to say I was frustrated. I wanted to be able to read a book while pumping or at least rest my arms which were tired from holding my son – and the Medela bra was just OK.
All of that changed when I found Rumina Nursingwear (and I’m not just saying that because I am a blogger here on their page!) In fact, anyone who knows me will tell you that I was recommending Rumina Nursingwear to friends well before I had the opportunity to work with them – I believe in these products that much. What makes the pump and nurse bras from Rumina so great? Well, for starters, I love that Rumina bras and tanks are all pump AND nurse products meaning that they can all be used for both. Having to switch bras is a pain and I love that with a pump and nurse bra, I could easily do both at the same time! I have yet to find another product that does this as easily. The second thing that sets Rumina apart from other companies is that their bras are very supportive. They are more than just a stretchy piece of elastic with two holes. Each bra is exactly that, a REAL bra. A properly fitting and supportive bra is so important. When a bra supports you and fits correctly, you get the best shape, feel, and when pumping, the best output! Lastly, instead of two holes, the Rumina products have adjustable openings for flanges that allow you to adjust where they sit based on your personal anatomy – this is so important for a custom fit! Pumping with the Rumina pump and nurse bras dramatically changed how I pumped at night after my son when to bed. I was no longer sacrificing output for hands free capability and I could read, relax, or even close my eyes for a couple of minutes while I was pumping .
One of my favorite Rumina products the Seamless Pump and Nurse bra
Regardless of what brand of bra that you buy I really encourage you to look for three things when you look for bra:
- Fit: Make sure that the band of the bra is not too tight or too lose – did you know that the best time to get fit for a nursing bra is actually at 24 weeks pregnant?
- Support: Make sure that the bra is supporting you well, choose a style that does not have underwire as underwire can cause clogged ducts as can a bra that does not properly support your breasts.
- Look for a pumping bra that has the ability to customize where your flange lies. Everyone’s anatomy is different and trying to force yours to line up with the “holes” of a bra can not only be frustrating, it can compromise your pumping output.