Do you really need a pumping bra to pump?

If you’re breastfeeding, chances are you will need to pump.

And pumping takes up so much precious time when you already have none to spare.

Some moms use wearable pumps like the Willow or Elvie. If you are using one of these pumps or Freemie cups, you don’t need a pumping bra to pump. A regular nursing bra will do.

Read: The 5 best nursing bras for your Willow® or Elvie pump and The 6 best bras for Freemie cups

If you have a regular breast pump with flanges (like my all-time favorite Spectra S1), then I would highly recommend buying a hands-free pumping bra.

You can obviously pump without a special pumping bra – just hold the flanges with your hand/crook of arm. But it can be uncomfortable and you’ll get sick of doing it multiple times a day.

The difference between a hands-free pumping bra and a nursing bra

A nursing bra usually has clip-down cups or pull-aside flaps for convenient breastfeeding.

A hands-free pumping bra has specially-designed holes or slits for you to insert breast pump flanges. They are often double-layered to hold your flanges in place and support your milk bottles.

This is a nursing bra:

Check it out on Amazon

This is a pumping bra:

Check it out on Amazon

There are some great all-in-one nursing and pumping bras around that you can wear all day. For best value-for-money, why not buy one of these? My pumping bra was a lifesaver. You won’t regret getting them.

What to consider when choosing a pumping bra

How often do you pump?

If you only pump once in a while, there’s no need to spend more money on a pumping bra. But if you pump regularly, then definitely get a hands-free pumping bra.

What type of pumping bra do you prefer?

There are pure pumping bras that you put on over your nursing bra only while you pump. The Simple Wishes Signature Pumping Bustier is one of the most popular around:

Check it out on Amazon

Or you could choose a multi-purpose combined nursing and pumping bra. This is my preferred option since I can wear it all day and it’s a lot more convenenient to pump. This is my favorite all-in-one pumping bra:

What kind of clothes do you wear when you’re pumping?

If you often wear tank tops and camis, then choose pumping bras with U-shape design or strapless pumping bras.

If you usually wear t-shirts or shirts, then racerback pumping bras give you better support.


Often, better quality pumping bras are pricier.

But most expensive is definitely not the best.

Some affordable pumping bras are pretty good quality too.

Check it out on Amazon

The Momcozy Pumping Bra is great value-for-money and it’s a number 1 best seller on Amazon with >17000 5-star ratings.

How to use a hands-free pumping bra

1. Assemble your pump parts.

2. If you have a pumping bra with holes, slide the flange in and position it with your nipple in the centre. Connect your milk bottle. Do the same for the other side.

3. If you have a pumping bra with slits, you can connect your flanges to the milk bottles first. Then, slide the flanges onto your nipples.

4. Make sure the position and angle of your flanges are correct.

5. Start your pump and adjust your flange position if needed.

6. Multi-task while your pump and pumping bra do their job.

7. To remove, either detach the bottles first or remove the whole flange-bottle assemble depending on the type of bra you have.

Benefits of hands-free breast milk pumping

  • allows you to multi-task while pumping. You can hold your baby, eat, work, iron, and do whatever else you fancy.
  • you can move about while pumping (provided you have a portable breast pump)
  • saves you from arm pain. Holding flanges and bottles up for half an hour multiple times a day is no mean feat
  • if you have a good quality pumping bra, it holds your flanges and milk bottles more securely than your aching arms.

DIY hands-free pumping

If you’re strapped for cash or just really don’t want to spend extra on a pumping bra, I love these pumping bra hacks:

Genius! If you’re looking for an easier way, there is a cheap commercial version – Lactamed Simplicity Bra Kit.

 Check it out on Amazon

These DIY methods are pretty cool. But if you ask me:

Are pumping bras worth it?

My answer is still a resounding yes!


Like it or not, pumping bras work way better than DIY bras. Also, with lack of sleep and not being great with my hands to begin with, my DIY projects tend to fail miserably.

The best thing about pumping bras is the ability to multi-task. That’s at least 1.5 hours a day put to good use.

Check it out on Amazon

Read why the Cake Maternity Lotus Pumping Bra is my favorite pumping bra.

To wrap up

You don’t really need hands-free pumping bras to pump but they sure make things easier. I think pumping bras are worth it for the convenience and added security. The ability to multi-task while pumping is priceless.

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Sharon James
Latest posts by Sharon James (see all)

6 thoughts on “Do you really need a pumping bra to pump?”

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