Pumping in the car is a great option for moms with a longer commute, moms who need to fit in an extra pump session, or moms that spend most of their workdays in the car. You may be thinking to yourself, but wait. How exactly DO I pump in the car? There is a slight learning curve (is anything easy when you are a working mom?), but once you do it once or twice, you will be a pro—just like you are at pumping at work.
Related article: How Often Should I Pump at Work?
If you plan to pump in the car, make sure your commute makes it worthwhile for you to set up your pump. If you only have a 10 minute commute (luck you!) or you have to drop your baby off at daycare halfway into your 30 minute commute, it may not be worth it to pump in the car. However, if you have a long commute or at least 15 minutes of drive time you may find it worthwhile to pump in the car.
The first thing to consider when pumping while driving is safety. While it is not illegal to pump in the car in any state, all states have laws regarding distracted driving. Since different states do things differently, we recommend looking up your state’s driver handbook and finding the relevant laws in the distracted driving section.
Related article: Determining Your Correct Flange Size (So Pumping Doesn’t Hurt!)
There are three different types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. While you may not need to touch your pump while driving, if you feel that it will distract you in any way, do not do it, do not pass go, arrive alive. However, we promise it is easy enough to do without distraction.
One other thing to consider is privacy. If you have tinted windows, it is unlikely fellow drivers or pedestrians will be able to see you. If you do not have tinted windows and do not want other drivers to see you, you may want to wear a nursing cover. We recommend using an apron style nursing cover for the car since they are loose and allow for greater range of motion.
In order to pump in the car, you will need a few additional items besides your pump and parts:
- Car adapter (check the front of your pump to see if it’s a 9-volt or 12-volt):
- 9 volt (Medela PISA and all other 9-volt pumps)
- 12-volt (Spectra S1, S2, S9 Plus and all other 12-volt pumps):
- Hands free bra
- Hand towel
Now for the fun stuff! Follow these steps on how to pump in the car:
1. Set up pump in the car.
The first thing you will obviously want to do is set up your pump in the car. Place it next to you in the passenger seat where you can easily reach it. Plug in the adapter and insert the adapter cord into the breast pump.
2. Put on hands free bra and attach flanges to pump in the car.
Put on your hands free bra and attach flanges. Place your seat belt strap in between your breasts. This is the most comfortable seat belt position for pumping in the car.
3. [OPTIONAL] Put on nursing cover while pumping in car.
Put on your nursing cover if you wish to use one. This is entirely optional. However, you are less likely to flash school buses full of high school students if you use a cover.
If you find that a nursing cover gets in your way, you can use removable car window sun shades such as these to place on your driver’s side window while you pump. You can still see out of the sun shade, but fellow drivers have a hard time seeing in. You can easily remove the shade when you are no longer pumping.
4. Turn pump on.
Up until this step, everything has been done while parked. At this point, you can turn your pump on in stimulation mode, wait for milk to begin flowing, switch to expression mode and then drive. Or, you can turn your pump on in stimulation mode, begin to drive, and quickly switch into expression mode when your milk starts flowing. Do whatever makes you feel safest.
5. Remove flange carefully after pumping in the car.
Once you are done pumping, wait until you are at work or stop somewhere safe and proceed with the remaining steps. Begin by removing your flanges. We recommend placing a towel underneath your flange to catch any milk you may spill. Gotta keep those work clothes clean. Remove your hands-free bra.
6. Combine milk into one bottle.
Combine the milk you pumped and place the empty bottle back onto a flange. Place a new bottle on the other flange. If you pumped too much to combine (lucky you!), place two new bottles onto your flanges.
7. Place milk in cooler after you pump in the car.
8. Place parts in wet bag after pumping in the car.
9. Put your clothes back on and go be a boss.
You should feel quite accomplished already. You have gotten yourself ready for work, gotten the baby fed and to daycare, and you have already pumped some of the milk you need for the next day. You are a powerhouse.
You can pump while driving on your commute home, too, if needed. One other suggestion is that if you wait until you are at work to remove the flanges, you may want to place a windshield shade on your dashboard so that no one can see into your car while you go through the process outlined above.
Related article: How to Store Breast Milk After Pumping
You can adjust this process to fit your way of doing things. Just make sure, above all, that you can do this safely. If you drive in rush hour traffic that already distracts and stresses you out beyond reason, pumping in the car might not be in the best solution for you. But if you want to maximize every second of your day, pumping in the car is great utilization of time in your work day.
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