How to Make Your Own Hands-Free Pumping Bra.

Hands-free pumping gives a mother more freedom while allowing working mothers a way to pump whenever they need to, even while sitting at their desks at work or pumping in the car on the way to work.

cute baby, breastfed baby, baby crib, kiss baby
Mother holding baby and giving him a kiss on the cheek - Photo by Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

Want to Make Your Own Hands-Free Pumping Bra?

Hands-free pumping gives a mother more freedom while allowing working mothers a way to pump whenever they need to,  even while sitting at their desks at work or pumping in the car on the way to work.

You can make your own pumping bras or spend some extra money and buy a hands-free bra. It’s up to you.

1. Make Your Own Pumping Bra by Cutting Holes

  • A sports bra usually works best for this. Put a mark on the spot where your nipple is, then cut a vertical hole on that spot. The hole should be just big enough to squeeze the breast pump horn through.
  • Afterward, you can sow around the hole's edges to ensure it doesn’t tear further than you want it to. And there you have made your own hands-free pumping bra.

2. Make Your Own Hands-Free Pumping System “Bra for Pumping."

(Taken with permission from

  • 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.
making a pumping bra - elastic bands
Two elastic bands.

  • Overlap edges.
elastic bands
Two overlapping elastic bands.

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

tie a knot with hair bands
Figure eight elastic bands.

  • Pull the knot tight.
hands free pumping bra
Elastic bands with a loose knot.

hands free pumping
Elastic bands with a tight knot.
  • 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 homemade 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.
a bra for pumping breast milk
Dressmakers dummy wearing a bra.

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

make a breast pump bra - breast pumps
Elastic band around the funnel.

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

make a breast pump bra
Elastic hooked onto the nursing bra.

Position the pump funnel over the 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.

breast pumpping bra
The weight of the bottle provides 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.

how to make a pumping bra
Figure eight elastic looped around the bra strap.
  • Wrap one loop around the bra strap and pull through the other loop.
how to make pumping bras
Pull it through the other loop.
  • Pull the loop through.
  • Pull the loops taut.
making a pumping bra
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.
hands free pumping bra
Position bottle.
breastfeeding pumping bra
With a nursing shirt. 
  • Bottle in position with a center-fastening bra.
  • This photo illustrates hands-free pumping using the elastic band method and a nursing shirt. When positioned around the funnels, the nursing shirt (or any shirt) helps hold everything in place.
hands free breast pumping
A nursing shirt helps to hold it in place.
  • All ready to pump. As you can see, this method can be pretty 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 ideally suited to pumping both sides simultaneously, pumping one side or even pumping one breast while nursing the baby on the other breast.

What to Look Out for When Buying a Nursing Bra

Nursing bras, in today's age, are not ugly anymore - there are so many different styles, fabrics, etc., to choose from. What sort of breastfeeding bra should you get? You can get the best nursing bra for your specific preferences and needs…

When buying a nursing bra, look out for the following:

  • Nursing bra size: Get measured when you purchase nursing bras, especially when buying online (you will need to know your size.)
  • When should you buy a nursing bra? Remember that your breasts will be much larger when you start breastfeeding than during pregnancy. Do not purchase a bra during pregnancy to fit while breastfeeding. You will have to get a larger size that allows for growth or wait until you breastfeed before buying a breastfeeding bra. Most moms safely buy one larger cup if they are buying them while pregnant.
  • Comfortable nursing bras: Your nursing bra should be made of fabric that will not irritate your skin. The straps should not cut into your shoulders; thicker straps are best.
  • Cotton bras are great because they decrease your risk of thrush (yeast infection), usually due to dampness.
  • Convenience: Does it allow for easy access? Can you unhook it with only one hand?
  • Is there enough space for nursing pads to be placed inside the bra?
  • Does it support your breasts well? You should have all the benefits of a regular bra. This is important, as you do not want to strain your back.
  • Underwired bras and breastfeeding: Are you looking for an underwire or wireless nursing bra? Using an underwire nursing bra is not recommended because they are known to reduce milk production and may even lead to blocked milk ducts and mastitis. If you want to wear an underwire breastfeeding bra, ensure that it doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on your breasts.
  • Buy at least three nursing bras, you will need to wash them, and you might leak now and then; you would not want to sit without a bra.
  • Does the bra open completely or partially? What would be convenient for you?
  • Supportive nursing bras: For bigger-breasted women, it would be a good idea to look for a nursing bra with thicker straps for more support.
  • The bra should not be too tight or too loose. A bra that is too tight can hinder your milk supply.
  • A good breastfeeding bra will still support your breasts even while breastfeeding.
  • Make sure the bra fits you on its tightest setting, so you still have room to grow. Your breast size should settle about two weeks after giving birth.
  • Your breasts should fit inside the bra and not be spilling out the top; this will prevent unnecessary pressure on your breast tissue.

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Types of bras for breastfeeding

1. Some bras fasten between the two cups in front. This bra is easier to open, but some moms don’t like it because it is not as discreet as the other bras when nursing in public.

2. Another nursing bra consists of small zips that sit under the cups of the bra. These bras are very discreet and can be opened and closed quite easily. The only disadvantage is that its zips can sometimes be seen through your top.

3. The third breastfeeding bra has a little button or clip on the shoulder strap or in between the two cups; this can be easily unfastened and pulled down. These bras sometimes have the convenience of adjustment to accommodate a larger cup size.

4. Nighttime nursing bras: A nursing sleep bra is for the mom who co-sleeps with her baby and needs easy breast access. They are usually made from a very soft fabric and have a "cross over the front" design. They do not provide enough support for moms with larger breasts.

5. Hands-free pumping bra: A hands-free bra for pumping is great for those mothers who need a bra for pumping both breasts and need both hands free. (Instructions provided above)

Are breastfeeding bras necessary?

  • Breastfeeding bras are made primarily to prevent your breast tissue from getting compressed; this prevents blocked milk ducts.
  • A bra for breastfeeding provides convenience; the mother will not need to get completely undressed whenever she wants to breastfeed.
  • Breastfeeding nursing bras allow for discreet breastfeeding in public.2