Gear

These Hands-Free Pumping Bras Make My Life as a Labor and Delivery Nurse Easier

by Sarah Shapiro BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, FN-CSA


These Hands-Free Pumping Bras Make My Life as a Labor and Delivery Nurse Easier

Image Credits: Ollie Gray

Shop Story

I tested pumping bras from Medela, Hatch, Simple Wishes, and more.

 

Finding a hands-free pumping bra changed my life as a first-time breastfeeding mom, and I’m pretty sure it’s the reason I’m still doing nursing and pumping 15 months later. I have pumped almost all of my son’s life due to some jaundice and supply issues. But most important, I’m a nurse, and when I went back to work, I wanted this journey to continue. Using a hands-free bra helped make that possible.

 

I love breastfeeding my son, and the contact time and the bond it helps us forge is one of a kind. I needed to figure out how to keep that going when we are not together, which means a lot of pumping. Hands-free pumping allows me to utilize my time more efficiently and continue to multitask. Driving to work? Lunch break at work? Pumping time. It’s less of a chore and more just a part of my life, so here I am months later, still pumping while we are apart. With the right hands-free pumping bra, that might become the case for you too.

 

What to Look for in a Hands-Free Pumping Bra

 

There’s a lot out there in the world of pumping bras today. There are pumping bras you can wear all day, pumping bras you can zip into, pumping bras with a lot of support, pumping bras with less support, and pumping bras that come in a million different fabrics and prints. Personally, I would rather wear one bra all day rather than change in and out of one for pumping. Also, I’m a busty girl, so I need to find a bra that offers a wide variety of sizes and gives a lot of support for me to make it through a day as a nurse. I need to have enough coverage and enough space to get the flanges of my breast pumps inside, and I want the fabric to be comfortable and easy to put on.

 

A pumping and nursing bra is also a plus, because some days I’m gone just a few hours instead of a whole day. On those days, I nurse more often than I pump, and it’s easier to wear a bra that does both, so I don’t have to change before breastfeeding my son.

 

The Best Hands-Free Pumping Bras

Best Sports Pumping Bra: Kindred Bravely Hands-Free Pumping and Nursing Sports Bra
Best Stylish Athleisure Pumping Bra: Ollie Gray Anywhere Bra
Best Pumping Bra for Comfort: The Hatch Pumping Bra
Best Bra for Changing Sizes: Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra
Best Bra for Medela Pump Users: Medela Easy Expression Bustier
Best Bra for Compression: Snugabell PumpEase

How I Tested Each Hands-Free Pumping Bra

 

I tested all the bras on the two different pumps I use during a typical day. I mainly use my Medela pump while working and driving. My Spectra pump is not battery-operated, so I use that one only at home.

 

First, I decided to test the two bras I felt I could wear all day in the busiest place I know: my labor and delivery unit. I wore the Kindred Bravely sports bra and the Ollie Gray Anywhere bra each for a shift, which is 12.5 hours, plus a decent drive back and forth.

 

The next day I wore the Hatch bra at home, all day and night. I honestly was sad to take this one off.

 

For the bras that zip on or hook in the front—the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra, Medela Easy Expression Bustier, and Snugabell PumpEase—I tested them for a day each, but wore them only while pumping, since I wouldn’t wear these out as a normal bra. To me, they feel like wearing a strapless bra when you don’t need to.

 

Since my initial testing, I have gone back to using the Kindred Bravely, Ollie Gray, and Hatch bras, and actually enjoy all three of them. I have worn the two sports bras to work multiple times, and I wear the Hatch bra at home almost every time it’s washed.

 

Image Credits: Amazon

Best Sports Pumping Bra: Kindred Bravely Sublime Hands-Free Pumping and Nursing Sports Bra

Price:$49.99

The Kindred Bravely sports bra was comfortable for every day, and I could wear it all day long. It’s a racer-back style with two layers that snap on and off at the straps. You can take down the first layer for pumping and the second layer for nursing. Overall, it’s my favorite pumping bra. It can easily fit Medela or Spectra flanges into the bra. Though the brand states that it fits wearable pumps like the Willow and Elvie, I’m not sure I could have fit one in there because there isn’t much space—although keep in mind that it’s meant to be snug, as a sports bra. One thing I don’t love is the flange holes, which are kind of large and can irritate your nipples if they get caught in there or you are not wearing breast pads. Also, this is a compression bra, so you cannot wear it forever because eventually compression can decrease your milk supply.

Sizing: Comes in 10 sizes, from Small to XXL Busty.

Pros: It’s comfortable, looks like a normal bra, and serves multiple uses.

Cons: The flange holes are large, and there’s no way to extend the band of the bra. It’s a compression bra.

Image Credits: Ollie Gray

Best Stylish Athleisure Pumping Bra: Ollie Gray Anywhere Bra

Price:$68.00

This bra is also marketed as a sports bra, but it is slightly less compressing than the Kindred Bravely bra. The Olly Gray Anywhere bra is super comfortable and has many functions. You can wear this bra all day and use it for pumping or nursing. As a nursing bra, each side unsnaps from the straps for breastfeeding. To use as a pumping bra, you lift up the top layer from the bottom and insert the flanges into the slot at the top. Then you maneuver the flange so that the fabric can keep it in place while you pump. The slot is generous and is in a comfortable position. Any flanges would fit in here, and I think you could get a hands-free pump to fit in the bra as well. These are the most comfortable snap down straps I have tried for this article. The band is a hook-and-eye closure that you can adjust as needed. The material is soft, antimicrobial, moisture-wicking fabric. There are many, many prints and colors to choose from.

Sizing: Comes in six sizes from XS to XXL

Pro: It has multiple uses, overall comfort, adjustable band, antimicrobial liner, comfortable flange hole, fun and stylish prints.

Cons: Compression, higher price point.

Image Credits: Hatch Collection

Best Bra for Comfort: Hatch Essential Pumping Bra

Price:$78.00

This bra from Hatch is so comfortable. The fabric is soft, and there is no unnecessary padding or hardware. I was able to pull it down for breastfeeding. For pumping, you lift up the top layer and thread the flanges into slots. You can pull the top layer down slightly to make more compression for pumping as well. Medela and Spectra pump flanges fit easily into the bra. I think if you are less busty than I am, a hands-free pump would fit as well. Did I mention it’s comfortable?

Sizing: Four sizes from S to XL.

Pros: It is massively comfortable, has soft fabric, and multiple uses.

Cons: It’s not very supportive; the price point is high.

Image Credits: Simple Wishes

Best Bra for Changing Sizes: Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Price:$29.99

This Simple Wishes pumping bra is one you zip into, and it can be worn with or without the straps that are included. It comes in two sizes, but the back panel of bra is adjustable so you can change the size as needed, which is convenient for breastfeeding parents and our fluctuating bodies. There’s an extra layer of fabric between your breasts and the flange holes. I could easily fit in the Medela or Spectra flanges into the holes, and the extra layer helps to make a great seal while pumping so you can remove milk as efficiently as possible.

Sizing: Just two sizes, XS-L and L-Plus, with an adjustable band.

Pros: The adjustable size is convenient, and the double layer flange hole is comfortable.

Cons: This style of bra is not meant for wearing all day.

 

Image Credits: Medela

Best Bra for Medela Pump Users: Medela Easy Expression Bustier

Price:$20.66

If you exclusively use a Medela pump and you want a zip-in bra just for hands-free pumping, this is for you. The bra is very soft and stretchy, which is nice when your size is changing postpartum. It also has a decent size variety. The flange holes are small because they are sized perfectly for the Medela breast shields. On the website, the brand suggests zipping the bra on top of the bra you are wearing and then removing your other bra. I did not do this, and I had a lot of difficulty zipping. I ended up zipping it and then pulling it on over my head instead.

Sizing: S, M, and L

Pros: This is perfect for a Medela pump, and it’s soft and comfortable.

Cons: It can only be used with a Medela flange. The price is great.

Image Credits: Amazon

Best Bra for Compression: Snugabell PumpEase

Price:$29.85

This PumpEase bra is made well, and it gives constant compression on your breasts while pumping, which can be helpful for some. Instead of a zipper, the front closes with well-made hooks that make sure this bra does not go anywhere while you’re using it. The fabric is comfortable. I think this would be a good option for a plus-size hands free pumping bra. The sizing is more generous than a typical T-shirt bra, and there’s a detailed sizing guide on the site (and on Amazon) to help you choose which is best for you.

Sizing: Four sizes from S to XL.

Pros: It seems made well, and there’s no concern for opening while pumping.

Cons: It does not provide enough support to wear all day or to move around in it..