If you are staring at a pile of “stuff” for nursing and/or pumping and have no idea what you actually need, then you have come to the right place! As a first time mom, I remember preparing for my first day back to work and panicking because I wasn’t sure what I should take with me. I ended up packing two bags of various items because you never know when you might bust a leak and need a new shirt…or pants…or socks…or god forbid my nipples became inverted and I need a Nipplette (I didn’t have inverted nipples but it seemed possible in my mind). The list went on. Most of it was completely unnecessary and I looked silly carrying all those bags.
So let me save you the time and effort and tell you what was in my pump bag and what worked best.
What to put in breast pump bag (oh, yes, it seems like a lot but trust me, you could fit more):
- Pump – This might be obvious…or not but you are going to need a pump. A quality one. Please get yourself a great double electric pump. (If you need a good recommendation, check out the Medela Freestyle or Spectra S1. You will thank me.)
- A Pump Bag –
Again, might seem obvious. Some pumps come with a hazard waste-like looking bag but if that’s not your style, may I suggest a better option? You need a Sarah Wells bag. Her bags look like purses and come in a variety of styles. You could fit everything and the kitchen sink in her bags! Click here to read about my favorite!
- Pump Flanges – This is the part that connects to the pump tubes, so very important. No pumping without flanges, so do not forget them! Bring at least 2 but if you are unable to wash parts or don’t have access to a refrigerator (I will share my secrets with you in second), then you will need to bring a set for each pumping session to ensure it is sanitary.
- Extra Membranes – You might be surprised to learn how much of a difference changing the membranes make in the strength of your pump’s suction. If you feel you aren’t pumping enough or your pump is losing power, this is the first part I would replace. Keep a few on hand at all times.
- Battery Pack and AC Adapter – Depending on your pumps power options (some only have an AC Adapter, etc) make sure you bring all options with you including a car charger if you have one. You want to be prepared for all possibilities.
- Milk Collection Bottles with Lids – You will need bottles to pump into. I personally would bring four (to have a backup set on hand) and transfer the pumped milk to the milk storage bags. It was easier to carry this way.
- Milk Collection Bags/Freezer Bags
– You will need at least 6. This goes hand-in-hand with the collection bottles but milk storage bags are a great way to store and carry your milk. Trying to fit 6-10 bottles of pumped milk into a small cooler was next to impossible! The storage bags are much easier to pack. (My suggestion for all pumping moms is to invest in the Kiinde Twist system. I use “invest” lightly because it really is not all that expensive. It has adapters for all major brand pumps and allows you to pump, store, and feed from the same storage bag! This is one of my favorite products and it cuts down on bottle washing and the amount of parts you need to carry! Check it out if you haven’t heard of it before!)
- Ice Pack and Cooler – You will need a small cooler and ice pack to store and transfer your milk. Medela has a nice one with a contoured ice pack. The downside is it only fits four collection bottles but I found I could fit about six freezer collection bags in it. So that might be an option but any cooler or lunch bag will do!
- A Pen – This might not seem as obvious but you will want to carry a pen or sharpie to write the date on your milk collection bags. Trust me, you will not remember what day you pumped which bag so label them!
- Hands-Free Pumping Bra – This is a must in my book! If you are going to be a pumping mom then you need to get your hands free. Time doesn’t need to stop just because you have to pump. I used to work on my computer, eat lunch, read a book, etc all while pumping. Be kind to yourself and get a pumping bra! (My favorite is Simple Wishes but if you need a list of some other great options, click here!)
- 1-Gallon Ziplock Bag – This is one of my pumping secrets. Let’s be honest, no one has time to wash their pump parts after every single pumping session. It takes way too long. My big secret? Put the pump parts (that touches milk – flanges, collection bottles, etc) into a gallon ziplock bag and pop it into the refrigerator. The milk on them stays fresh all day so no need to wash them. Just take them home at the end of the day and wash them then. Saves a ton of time!
- Steam Bags – If you don’t have access to a refrigerator to store your pump parts in, then another good option is using steam bags. Medela makes some affordable ones. You simply rinse the parts, put them in the steam bag, pop in the microwave and done! Great and fast option when you can’t wash or store your parts.
- Extra Breast Pads –
Especially in the beginning, bringing extra breast pads is a must. You might leak and will need a few extra pairs. (I suggest you check out Bamboobies. Best reusable nursing pads and they’re super soft!)
- Nipple Cream – This is optional but if you are still dealing with sensitive nipples, applying a small amount of nipple cream before and after pumping can help. Consider using a natural product like Motherlove Nipple Cream since it is safe to use while nursing with no need to wipe it off.
- Hand Sanitizer – Always wash your hands before handling your pump parts. I carried a small bottle of travel sized hand sanitizer for those occasions when I didn’t have access to a sink.
- Extra Blouse – You will want to carry an extra blouse or shirt with you. I like having a pullover cardigan in my pump bag since I’ve had incidents where I accidentally spilled on my shirt. But another option would be to keep it in your car. If you do that, though, you will need to walk all the way to your car with your shirt wet. (If you want a good pullover top, check out this one.)
- Nursing Cover – This is optional as well but I always carried one with me just in case. I never felt comfortable pumping in front of people so depending on your accommodations for pumping, you may want to consider carrying one. (I love Bebe au Lait covers since they are lightweight and easy to pack.)
- Snacks –
You need to kill two bird with one stone when pumping especially while working. Eating your lunch or having a quick snack while pumping is a great timesaver. You need those calories to maintain a healthy supply, so do not skip meals! I used to munch on healthy snacks like apples, carrots, or other veggies since they were easy to eat while pumping. I also like to have a lactation cookie each day which I think helped maintain my supply. Plus they taste good! Perfect, small snack to stash in your pump bag! (Need a good lactation cookie recommendation? Try Milkin’ Cookies! So yummy!)
There you have it! All the things I would carry in my pump bag. Do you have a “must carry” list? Share it here by leaving a comment!