As mamas, and pregnant women, we read everything to be prepped and ready for when bb arrives. We do our homework like the best straight A student looking to ace this thing called #momlife. Fast forward nine months and our beautiful baby is here. Then we decide to nurse and suddenly the reality of mom-hood has come to kick our ass!
Did you know that you needed a hands-free pumping bra?
The answer is yes. Yes, you need one. Yes, you need it now. Basically, without one of these, you won’t be able to do anything while nursing. Forget about making calls, checking emails, eating lunch (oh that was already forgotten…). A hands-free pump bra is exactly what it sounds like, a specialized bra that gives us multitasking freedom (life-changing!) when we’re otherwise tethered.
The best hands-free nursing bras can be worn 24/7. They allow your flange to stay snug to your nipple, and have room to expand or contract as your breast size changes throughout the day. No idea what bra size you are anymore? Join the club! Nursing pumping bras can have different sizing across brands, so make sure to measure before committing. First, measure under the bust where the band would sit. Then, measure across the fullest part of the bust while full. Compare these measurements to brand size charts and voilà. When in doubt, round up! If they are basic sizes like s/m/l/xl, what size shirt would be able to button closed when your breasts are engorged? Again, round up, and don’t feel bad, we’re all feeling pretty huge about now.
One mama who took note of the need for hands-free nursing was Emily Ironi, founder of The Dairy Fairy. Emily, herself a nursing mom and all-around superhero to the rest of us, jokes that she “gave birth to two babies six months apart.” After bringing home her beautiful baby girl, she noticed a serious hole in the market for pumping and nursing mothers. Within weeks, the idea for her second baby was born. Today, her Dairy Fairy brand offers pretty bras for real moms in 12 styles, multiple colors, and 7 different sizes.
Moral of the story— nursing/pumping moms need a hands-free bra. Don’t make the mistake of trying to hold your flanges every two hours. Learn from our mistakes! Here are the best pumping and nursing bras that we would recommend in a heartbeat.
Best All-in-One Nursing Pumping Bras
It’s no secret that we love HATCH’s entire line of maternity apparel that can be worn during and after pregnancy. Once BB arrives, trust us, you’re gonna want to get in on their Essential Pumping Bra. Available in white, black, and nude, it’ll allow you to resume some degree of normalcy… you know with the exception of having to take pump breaks roughly every two hours. Made from the same feel-good fabrics that we know and love from HATCH, this bad boy is seamless, hardware-less, and friggin’ hands-free so that you can do ALL the things. It’s super easy to use—simply pull the overlapping fabric down or insert and start pumping without any interruption.
Says this mama, “If you find yourself pumping at all, this is the only bra you need. I’ve had to move to pumping exclusively and I have purchased various hands-free bras—this is the best and I wish I would have just purchased this one. It is so comfortable and easy to use. It lays nicely under clothes. Many pumping bras show weird lines under shirts, but not this one! I used the size chart and the fit is great.” Woo-hoo! It looks like we’ve found a winner.
When you’re on your feet 24/7, a hands-free pumping bra is really non-negotiable. This one from Simple Wishes ticks all the boxes (comfortable, supportive, and hassle-free) and yet still manages to make you feel like you’ve got your sh*t together. Available in black or nude, this versatile bra can be worn as a strapless band or as a tank (racer-back or halter style) depending on your preference and MOTD (mood of the day). It’s also compatible with all major breast pump brands including but not limited to Medela, Spectra Baby, and Bellema. This mama sings her praise, “I literally could not pump as quickly or easily as I do at work without this bra. I have one that I keep in my pumping bag and just wash every weekend and return on Sunday night for the week… I pump three times a day Monday-Friday while I’m at work. It allows me to use the double pump and is really hands-free. I typically hold the pump to me for the first few seconds of suction and then let go. Then I have both hands free to do whatever—including checking email, making phone calls, etc.”
“A cute pumping bra does not exist…” Ahem, you may want to hold that thought. If you want to feel like Superwoman every time you pump, then we recommend this alternative polka dot hands-free pumping bra from PumpEase. Touted as the last pumping bra you’ll ever need, this pièce de résistance works like a charm. The convertible straps can be worn as an X-back, halter, or regular. The hook and eye closure in front will ensure a high-performance fit. Whether you’re a multi-tasking mama, are returning to work, or need to boost your milk production, PumpEase does it all. Plus, the reviews are stellar. This customer says, “I own three different pump bras and this one is my favorite! Cute patterns aside, the hooks are actually easier to close than a zippered style (in my opinion) and there is no risk of wrecking your clothing by getting it snagged in a zipper or Velcro. I’ve owned my bra for 5 years and after pumping for two kids it’s still going strong!”
Best Hands Free Bras for Larger Bust (DD+)
Offering medium to high support with demi underwire, the Ayla bra from The Dairy Fairy puts this pumping bra in the pretty lingerie category. One mom described this bra by saying “It fit great and was comfortable, but also pretty. I didn’t feel as grandma-y as I did in other bras, plus it is an all-in-one bra, so at the office I could wear the bra under clothes but then also could use it for hands free pumping and didn’t have to change into a different one.” Ayla is founder Emily Ironi’s number one style. “It’s the most striking visually, it does not look like a nursing and pumping bra.” Beautiful and all inclusive in 5 colors, the Ayla bra is available for up to I/J cup (Size 7) on the Dairy Fairy website, up to G/H cup (Size 6) on Amazon.
So maybe you’re not quite ready to reclaim your sex kitten status and your idea of a good time is a sports bra and yoga pants. Meet Arden. The Dairy Fairy Arden bra fits like a lightly lined sports bra with the pretty appeal of lace. Although The Dairy Fairy bras are designed to work with any pump making them as utilitarian as possible, the Arden bra and the Willow pump work together seamlessly. The two layers of cup coverage provide plenty of support for holding the Willow pump (or your girls) in place, but also the outer layer can adjust to three different bra strap positions. Did baby drain one side and you’re still engorged on the other? The cross over design lets you adjust to fit your size at the moment. The ingenuity of this bra fits up to an I/J cup.
Best Hands Free Bras for Smaller Bust (A-DD)
The Medela Easy Expression Hands Free Pumping Bra is the Honda Accord of pumping bras. Reliable, not really sporty or stylish, but a really and truly old faithful when you need it. This hands-free workhorse zips up the front for easy in and easy out when time is of the essence. We have even layered it over a regular nursing bra when needed and unzipped when done. The sizing heavily favors those smaller than a D cup, but others who are well endowed have made it work. The ace bandage-like feeling of the bra holds your flanges in place so that your hand can be doing other things… Reading…. Responding to emails… Painting your nails… You get the picture. While marketed to fit only Medela pumps, we have seen it work just fine with Spectra brand as well, you just have to be a little clever with how you insert your flanges.
This contraption is less of a bra and more of a bra frame since you wrap it around your existing tank or nursing bra. Designed to fit any and all band sizes, the Pump Strap uses breast compression to increase the natural flow of your milk. Right— because after waiting three hours to pump you need help letting it flow? But seriously, the Pump Strap allows for more in less time meaning you can get back to the more important parts of your day faster! Available in a variety of 5 fun colors (bonus, when you are extra tired and out of it the dayglo colors will find themselves in your pack mule lactation bag) and fits bra cup size A-DD. The openings on this bra are wider than most other pumping bras allowing for ease of insertion of flanges from any brand of pump, even the Spectra!
This may not look like much at first, but it’s essentially a bra sling that holds your girls in place so you can get sh*t done. Compatible even with the Spectra pump (this is no easy feat, damn those one piece flanges!), this patent pending figure 8 opening on the Bravado! Designs Maternity Clip and Hands Free Pumping Bra clips easily over your nursing bra dujour. Officially it only clips onto other Bravado! Designs nursing bras, but we know better. Don’t we? So there’s no need to look like you’re wrestling an alligator as you try to shift from one bra to another. This bra is available in four colors, and designed to fit up to a G cup, however most reviewers say it runs on the smaller size so it’s best suited for those less endowed ladies.
Rebooting your wardrobe postpartum? Keep reading for more of our busy mom fashion finds.