Baby-Related Crafts

Converting a RegularBra into a Pumping Bra by Karen M. PDF, 223 K

Completed hands-free pumping braFrom Karen M. Of This conversion is ideal for working moms who pump at lunchtime or while driving -- much less expensive than buying hands-free equipment.

To those of you who have come to these directions from an "Oh my god, this site is so funny/gross/stupid" link... yeah, whatever. Whoever posted it to your bulletin board probably has too much time on his/her hands if s/he's running searches for weird bras, don't you think?

Women who want to give their babies the best start in life, yet still want or need to work, often need to pump breastmilk for their babies. And their workplaces often aren't willing or able to set up a separate space for them to pump. So it becomes far more practical to buy or rent a double pump and set up a station in one's car, or if their employer does provide a space or if she has an office, in her office. Yet bras that are specifically designed for pumping (and yes, they exist) are often quite expensive. these directions, sent to me by a woman who needed to pump on the road ( they are not my creation), are helping women to provide their babies with the food they are meant to have. I happen to feel very strongly that breastfeeding should be the norm, ra ther than the exception, because it's what babies are meant to have, and babies who are denied breastmilk are statistically less healthy, not as smart, and generally not as well-off as those who are breastfed. It's an important health issue, and if, by hosting directions like these, I can increase the number of breastfed infants in this country (and beyond), then I feel I'm doing a service. Yes, the pictures look silly; I won't deny that. But what you're seeing is a woman who cares more about the health and well-being of her infant than what strangers might think of her, and I think that's saying a lot.

Also, a statement of the obvious (because I got an email from a gentleman who was concerned about the safety of pumping while driving): if you use this when driving, do exercise all due caution. Don't try to get hooked up while you're driving 65 mph. Driving a car is dangerous under the best of circumstances. If running the pump will be distracting for you on your commute, don't do it. I'd recommend this for when you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and then only if you have gotten hooked up before you start driving. If you need to disengage the pump while you're still on the road, pull into a rest station or the like. As the gentleman's email said, "While I agree that breast feeding is vital to the well-being of an infant, having no mother at all is far worse for the development of a child than not getting breast milk."

He keeps writing to me. He really doesn't like the idea that women will be using this in the car. Here's another note: "...[in his discussion group where a link to these directions was posted] there was a lot of outrage about any suggestion of doing something so complicated while behind the wheel. After alcohol (something we can control ourselves), inattentive drivers are the biggest killers of bikers.  Having a close friend whose first anniversary of death by inattentive driver is this weekend, it's something that touches very close to home for me.  there are literally thousands of outraged motorcyclists in the cyber-community right now.  I only hope that you will consider pulling the article altogether, as any form of inattentive driving can cause harm, or even death, to the driver or anyone around them. How many mothers will read that article, create the device described, and ignore your soft warning?  How many of them will have their babies in the car with them when they try this?  I hope to God that no innocent children... well, you know what I mean, I can't type it." the pumping bra can obviously be used in situations other than driving, so I have no intention of pulling the directions. Just be smart if you choose to use it on the road. Get hooked up before you start driving. Don't attempt to adjust it while you're driving. Pull off the road into a service station or rest stop if you have to change settings or disengage. Don't compromise your safety for breastmilk!



First try on the bra with your pump horns handy. Over the top of the bra, place the pump horn where it would go if you were pumping. Mark the top and bottom of the pump horn with a fabric pen over the center vertical line where you will make the cut.
With the top and bottom of the hole marked, make a mark appx. 1” above each. You will actually be cutting between these marks, NOT where you placed the horns originally. Cut between your new marks so that the cut is wide enough to feed a horn through like a buttonhole, but is 1” above where you placed it while trying on your bra. (Kind of a key hole effect, the
horn “stem” will then rest at the bottom of the hole, but still be in the right place making it more secure)
Take a small scrap of fleece and place it on the front of the bra over the hole you cut. From the back side of the bra sew about ¼” of an inch around the hole you cut in the cup. Cut the fleece to match the center cut in the cup and flip the fleece to the back side so that it is on the inside of the bra cup. Now stitch around the hole again about 1/8” away, securing the fleece and making a sturdy hole. Cut the fleece to about ¾” on all sides of the hole and hand tack it to the cup around the outside edge. Repeat for the second cup. Fleece lining the hole for pump horn insertion
Put the bra on again, only this time place the horns through the holes. When horns are comfortably positioned mark where you will place the hook and eye to secure the horn in place while pumping, then hand stitch the hook and eye in place. (Velcro or other fasteners might work for this, but I had hooks & eyes handy.) Pump horn inserted; hook and eye sewn above to keep horn positioned
At the top of the cup, where the cup meets the bra strap, sew one of the small hooks.
Using the hands free pump bra: the bra can be worn on its own with the straps up, but it can also be a pain to have to put on a bra each time you pump. The hooks at the tops of the straps allow you to use it with a regular nursing bra. Just lower your cups and use the hook at the top to hook into your nursing bra eyes (will not work with all bras though, only those that use hook and eye closures or have an eye at the top like Medela bras) then you don’t have to take your shirt off or even take your arms out of your shirt to put on the pump bra.
It is also handy for tandem pumping, just keep one side down... here my regular nursing bra is on under the pump bra one side of the pump bra is down so I can nurse.
And finally this is what I look like when I pump in my car, or in front of people. I just pull a stretchy shirt over my horns and no one can see anything specific. (This is how I pump and drive!)

Bra and directions made by Karen Mellentine, 2003.


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