I started exclusively pumping when my first baby was about three weeks old. I had no idea what I was doing (I didn’t even know you were supposed to take the pump parts apart to wash them!), and I definitely didn’t know about hands-free pumping. I spent those early weeks holding my breast shields in place with my hands while trying to juggle other stuff like replacing the baby’s pacifier without spilling breast milk.
When a friend sent me one of her old hands-free bras, it was life-changing! Despite the fact that I was still hooking myself up to a breast pump 8 times day, I felt like I had so much free time all of a sudden because I could actually get things done – working on my laptop, taking care of the baby, or even scrolling through my phone without having to position it at a weird angle – while I pumped.
Throughout most of my pumping career (38 months with three kids!), I have used an Easy Expressions bra from Medela. It’s a bustier, and you put the flanges in the holes at the nipples and then zip it up the middle. A few weeks ago, Aeroflow (they also specialize in providing breast pumps via insurance, so if you haven’t gotten one yet definitely check and see if you qualify) sent me a Clip and Pump bra to review, and I really liked it. It definitely has some advantages over the Easy Expressions bra.
Here’s how it works: it’s designed to be used with a Bravado nursing bra. When it’s time to pump, you put the Clip and Pump on by fastening it around your back (like you would a normal bra) over the Bravado bra. Then you unclip the cups of the bra so that the flaps fall down, and you clip the pumping bra in place where the cups were. You put the flanges in the openings, and you’re all set to go.
The best thing about the design is how you clip the top of the pumping bra to your nursing bra. This means that it holds the flanges up more securely; if I haven’t washed it in a while, my Easy Expressions bra sometimes sags with the weight of the bottles and the milk. This isn’t a problem with the Clip and Pump, and it keeps the breast shields in place better and feels much more stable. (Always a good thing when you’re dealing with precious breast milk!)
Another thing that I really like is the figure 8 opening for the flanges. As I mentioned, the way the Easy Expressions bra works is that you put the flanges in the holes and the zip it up the middle to secure them. Sometimes it can be an awkward maneuver to keep the breast shields in place while you get the bra zipped up. This isn’t a problem with the Clip and Pump; you can easily slip them inside the opening and they stay in place.
Finally, I like how it was designed to work with your nursing bra – there’s no need to take it off (or deal with the bulkiness of your bra getting in the way if you’re lazy like me and just push the cups out of the way). Everything works together!
The only downside that I see for the Clip and Pump bra is that it’s designed to be used specifically with a Bravado nursing bra. I really love my Bravado bras and pretty much wear them all the time, but if you already have a lot of other nursing bras, it would be understandable if you didn’t want to invest in buying 2-3 more so that you could use the Clip and Pump any time you needed to pump. If you’re just getting started with pumping, though, I think Bravado’s nursing bras and the Clip and Pump are a really good option!