Hands-free pumping is
the greatest thing next to sliced bread for the busy working
mother (little joke - as if there's such a thing as a working
mother who's not busy, right?)
The tools for hands-free pumping are
pretty simple, and my bet is that
you've already got what you need in your desk drawer - two
rubber bands. The rubber bands should be of the standard office
variety - fairly thin, and about the size where you can wear it around
your wrist, but it gets uncomfortable after a few hours.
picture of the setup, and here are the thousand words:
1. First, you need to have a look at
your nursing bra. There's probably some type of hook-and-eye
closure that closes the flap, right? Now, is the hook on the
flap, or on the strap? If the hook is on the strap, skip to step
two. If the hook is on the flap, start here. If the hook is on
the flap, there is a corresponding eye on flap, right? Start
there. Fold the rubber band and press one folded end through the
eye on the strap of your bra. Now pass the other end of the
rubber band through the
small loop of itself that is sticking through the eye. Pull this
end you just passed through snugly - you've made a "girth hitch" - now you know some
rock climbing terminology too!
Take the open loop of rubber band (if you attached it to your
bra already) and put it around the flange of your pump so it
rests where the conical part meets the cylindrical tunnel. If
you have not attached the rubber band to your bra, put it around
the flange, then hook the rubber band over the hook on your bra
3. Put the flange over your breast as
usual. Now repeat with the other side. Probably feeling a bit
awkward right about now, right?
4. Turn on your pump. Adjust one side
and get it comfortable on your breast so that the suction
engages. Now hold this side in place with the forearm on the
same side while you adjust the other side.
5. Once both flanges are in place and
have started sucking, you can gradually release your hold on the
flanges. It may take a few tries to get it right, but the rubber
bands along with the suction should hold up the whole
bottle/flange operation, leaving you Hands Free! If you need to,
you can rest the bottles on a table - keyboard trays are usually
at a great height for this.
6. Now the fun begins. Type emails to
your friends, post to Working and Pumping message boards, IM
(turn off the camera),
play solitaire, read a book, do the crossword - occupy your mind
so that you're not so focused on pumping, and so that you can
actually relax and enjoy your break. Don't overflow the bottles.
UPDATE: I've received a number of
emails from women more generously endowed than myself, letting
me know that this trick wasn't quite fighting gravity well
enough for them. There are a number of products on the market,
including the Pumpin' Pal, the Easy Expressions Bustier, and the
Medela Hands-free bra, that hold the pump flanges for you. For
you big-busted gals, these may be what you need when the
rubber-bands don't quite meet your needs.
The cartoon below was based on a photo
of me, hard at work, hands-free. Unfortunately, you
can't see the rubber bands - but you get the idea.
The image is used courtesy of Alison Bechdel,
a really cool cartoonist. You should check out her
website (unless you're really
conservative or homophobic, then you probably won't like it).