If you're pumping like a pro or just getting started, finding the right bra to fit your type of breast pump flange can be quite a challenge. With countless brands of breast pumps on the market and a variety of shapes and sizes of flanges, I understand why new moms are often confused on what pumping bra to buy to match them. I’ve personally used plastic flanges, full silicone flanges, silicone inserts, plastic with silicone edges and breast pump cushions inside plastic flanges, basically all of the options! The guide below has everything you will need to know before finding the right pumping bra for your breast pump.

Woman using breast pumps

How to Find Your Flange size

If you’re new to pumping, you might be surprised to learn breast pump flanges come in multiple sizes! Why? One size does not fit all when it comes to nipples. Most breast pumps like Medela and Spectra  come stock with flange sizes 24mm and 27mm or 28mm. Flanges sizes can actually range on average from 10mm - 32mm, which is quite the variation. Just like pumping bras, finding the correct size for your nipple is extremely important. The larger the flange size, the larger the tunnel shape will be as well. Pump companies include these larger sized flanges because where someone can use a flange that’s too large, someone cannot use a flange that’s too small. They go bigger to make it “work for everyone”.

nipple ruler for finding the correct flange size.

Pro tip:  You need to consider the size and shape of your flange when shopping for a hands-free pumping bra to hold your flanges. To find your ideal pumping flange size both while pregnant and again postpartum, you will want to use a speciality nipple ruler.  My favorite flange sizing ruler is  bemybreastfriend’s Nipple Ruler.  This will fit  perfectly into your hospital bag and come in handy throughout your breastfeeding journey, as your nipple size is very likely to change along the way. A mom with a size 10 mm nipple and flange may need a pumping bra with super small flange holes. A mom with a size 32 mm nipple and flange is going to need a pumping bra with large flange holes. Moms with a variation of flange size anywhere between may want to look for a pumping bra with adjustable flange opening. Size most certainly matters in this situation. If a bra with holes too large for a smaller flange is used, the flanges may not stay in place properly and not effectively remove milk. If a bra with smaller holes is used for larger flanges, it’s likely they won’t fit inside at all or may damage the bra. 

Woman modeling a Davin & Adley Amelia cami with breast pumps.

Which Pumping Bra is Best for Me

You now have your breast pump, most likely a free pump from your health insurance. You know your correct flange size by measuring. You’ve got your flanges. So what hands-free pumping bra do you need? Not all hands-free pumping bras are compatible with both small and larger flanges. Often the design is a small, pre-cut hole in the fabric of the pumping bra. This style can either be too small to get an all in one-piece flange inserted, or eventually too stretched out to hold any size of flanges hands-free and secure. 
Key details to look out for: Do you have a one-piece breast pump flange like Spectra, Motif and Pumpables, or a 2-piece breast pump flange like Medela and Lansinoh? 2-piece flanges are able to disconnect and fit into small opening pumping bras and one-piece larger flanges are more challenging to fit into small openings because they have to fit through while the flange is put together. 
Woman using breast pumps.
Medela two piece plastic breast pump flange
woman wearing a pumping and nursing cami while using breast pumps.
Pumpables one piece plastic flange housing with silicone insert
woman using breast pumps and wearing a light pink pumping and nursing cami.
Spectra one piece plastic breast pump flange

The Best Pumping Bra for Large Silicone Flanges

If you find yourself with larger flanges like Pumpables Liquid Shield Kit or The Legendairy Milk Duette Fluidfit Kit, where the nipple sized silicone flange insert goes into a wider tunnel, expect to have some challenges fitting into small, circular opening pumping bras. Full silicone flanges like Lactek  and Idaho Jones, are also more bulky and thick to maneuver. Silicone flanges that need to be flipped (both the Pumpin Pals and Bare Shields) will need a wider opening to allow access for flipping the flange onto the nipple.  And any plastic flanges with additional silicone inserts or breast pump cushions like beaugen, could potentially be too cumbersome in some hands-free pumping bra openings. If this sounds anything at all like the breast pump flanges you have in your hand right now, the Davin & Adley Amelia Camis and Tanks are going to be your best choice. These hands-free pumping camis are 5-star rated and may very well be the best purchase you make during your breastfeeding journey. The Amelia camis and tanks are designed with overlapping flange slits instead of a pre-cut hole. This means the adjustable pumping slit opens up to the exact size you need when inserting the breast pump flange, and the overlap naturally closes during use to pinch the flange from both sizes. The top layer of the Amelia Pumping Cami or Tank is pulled down to rest on the top of your flanges. The design creates a 3 part system to lock your breast pump flanges into place, no matter the size or shape of them. Because it’s longer like a cami instead of a short bra, the coverage is also ideal to wear all the time. There is truly no other design like it on the market. You need one. Or 5. Period. 

Where to Shop for Hands-Free Pumping Bras

You could buy inexpensive pumping bras from Amazon, Target and Walmart, but it’s a gamble what you actually get. Quality, comfort and function are often compromised for a lower price. If you know you are in it for long term pumping, INVEST in both quality and functional pumping bras. Shop from smaller brands, run by women that are experienced in breastfeeding and have been very well reviewed by a large community of nursing and pumping moms! 


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