Look Ma - no hands! Multi-tasking taken to extremes.
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Hands-Free Pumping

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.

Here's a 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!

2. 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 strap.

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).


Copyrightę 2005 Kirsten Berggren. All Rights Reserved.