Whether you’re expressing for a premature baby or building up a supply of milk, double pumping is a great way to fit it into your busy life. You can express 18% more milk on average in half as much time as pumping from each breast in turn, and the milk collected has a higher calorie content. But you have to hold two breast shields while double pumping, it means you don’t have a free hand to do anything else. This is when a hands-free pumping bra can come in very useful.
The benefits of hands-free expression
Using a hands-free pumping bra means you can collect milk for your baby while you’re on your phone or laptop, reading, or having a snack. It also makes it much easier to operate the breast pump controls and deal with your bottles or bags of expressed milk.
The NCVI Easy Expression Bra had the added benefit of a strap-free design, which means you can pop it on quickly and easily when you need to pump and remove it without fuss when you’ve finished.
Top tips for hands-free expression
Like all aspects of breastfeeding, it can take a little time to become proficient at hands-free expressing. Follow these tips to keep yourself comfortable and maximise your milk flow:
Make sure you have the right size breast shield. If it’s too narrow your nipple may rub against the sides; if it’s too loose too much breast tissue can be pulled inside.
Make sure the pumping bra holds both breast shields securely against your breasts without being too tight. If necessary, adjust or loosen it to ensure milk flow isn’t restricted.
Pump at your maximum comfort vacuum, which is the highest vacuum you can tolerate comfortably, as this has been proven to release more milk in less time. To find the right level for you, increase the vacuum gradually until it feels slightly uncomfortable, then turn it down a notch.
Avoid leaning on a breast shield or pressing it too hard against the skin, as this could compress your milk ducts and restrict milk flow.
Massage your breasts occasionally during pumping to help the milk flow freely from all your ducts.
Feel your breasts all over after pumping to check for complete breast drainage – they should be soft.