You survived the morning sickness, the pregnancy, the delivery (ouch!), and the first couple of months of your baby’s life. Congratulations! Now it’s time to head back to work. Not only will you return to work with the new title of Mom, but you will also assume the role of Bag Lady. There will be your purse, lunch bag, work bag, baby’s diaper bag, maybe a gym bag, and, most importantly, your pump bag. Your pump bag will house all of the pumping supplies you need to make pumping at work go smoothly and efficiently. Read on for a list of the pumping essentials you need as determined by hundreds of working moms who have been there, done that!
Oh and k–! Contact your employer’s human resources department or plan administrator for more info, or check out this information on eligible expenses from the IRS.
Recommended article: How to Pump at Work: The Complete Guide
1. Pump Bag for Pumping Supplies
First things first, you need to pick out a pump bag. If you have a large, preferably waterproof, tote tucked into a closet somewhere that should work. If you want a bag with compartments and a special place for your breast pump, we have a few favorites among our working moms. Using a bag specifically designed for breast pumps can save you set up time since you only have to unzip a flap and plug in your pump. This is especially beneficial for moms who have to walk to a lactation room to pump. Most pump bags also have enough space for other things you need when at work (lunch, laptop, etc.).
We have tried the whole gamut of bags from totes specifically designed to hold breast pumps to old backpacks repurposed to hold pumping paraphernalia. Our favorites are:
The best part about these bags is that they don’t scream baby bag, so you can use them even when you are done pumping!
2. Hands Free Pumping B
Yes, you need one. We have a whole article dedicated to some of our favorite pumping bras here: Best Hands Free Pumping Bra: The Top 5 According to Real Moms. Some nursing bras (check out favorite nursing bras here) double as pumping bras, so check to see if your nursing bra will work. It will make your life much easier. A hands-free pumping bra allows you the freedom to continue working, scroll through social media, or eat a snack while your breast pump does it thing. There are hacks that let you turn your nursing bra into a pumping bra (see here), but we recommend purchasing one to have on hand. The most popular hands free pumping bras are:
- Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra (by and large the most popular over the shoulder boulder holder)
2a. OPTIONAL: Freemie Collection Cups
If you have an office job and prefer to pump at your desk rather than take a pumping break, many working moms find success using Freemie Collection Cups. These cups attach to your pump in place of flanges, and sit right in your bra—no pumping bra necessary. Lots of moms also use these to pump while driving. While Freemie Collection Cups do not provide a cord-free pumping experience, you will have more freedom than with a traditional pump flange.
Recommended article: How Often Should I Pump at Work?
3. Extra Set of Pump Parts
If you are reading this article, you likely already have your pump. If you haven’t picked one out yet, check out our article on the Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms: Our Top 3 Favorites. Whatever pump you purchase, we recommend purchasing an extra set or two of pump parts (flange, bottles, etc.). This way you can leave one at work in case you ever forget your parts at home, and you can have a set to rotate each night when cleaning. Several alternative brands offer pump kits that less expensive, but perfectly compatible with name brand pumps. You’ll also need to replace several parts every 3-6 months throughout your pumping journey. See our guide How Often To Replace Pump Parts-Everything You Need to Know for more replacement information.
Recommended article: How to Store Breast Milk After Pumping
4. Wet bag for Pumping Supplies
You will need a bag to store your pumping supplies in in between pump sessions. You can use a Ziploc bag to do this, but our moms prefer using a wet bag. Most wet bags come in designs that hide the contents of the bag. If you are placing your pump parts in a shared work refrigerator along with your breast milk, you may prefer to place them in a bag where your coworkers can’t comment upon them.
Also, wet bags are super handy to use even when you are done pumping. Need a bag for a change of clothes? Need a bag to store clean or dirty diapers? Need a bag for bathing suits? A wet bag is the answer. The best part of a wet bag is you can simply throw it in the laundry when you need to clean it. We like to clean our wet bags at the end of each week.
We prefer these wet bags since they have two zippered pockets. We store our clean pump parts in one pocket, and then move them to the other pocket after we have used them. Plus, they are cuter than a plastic bag!
Recommended article: Pumping Laws at Work Explained
5. Hand towel
Having a hand towel to absorb drips or spills is a must. No matter how careful you are, you are bound to drip breast milk on your work clothes or desk at some point. Being able to quickly wipe it up will just make pumping more comfortable. Pack a roll of paper towels in your bag or buy yourself a cute towel (you deserve it). We recommend placing the hand towel on your lap or desk whenever disconnecting from your pump.
Recommended article: Pump in the Car Safely and Discretely
6. Cooler for Pumping Supplies
You will need a small cooler + ice pack in which to store your breast milk. You will place this cooler either at your desk or in the refrigerator in order to keep your pumped breast milk cool. Once you have determined your pump schedule and you know how many ounces you will be pumping, you can determine how many bottles you will need. Make sure to purchase a cooler large enough for the amount of breast milk you plan on pumping. Our favorite breast milk coolers:
Recommended article: Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies: Our Top 5 Picks
7. Breast Milk Storage Bags
Some of our moms prefer to pour their breast milk directly into milk bags directly after pumping. Others prefer to wait until they get home. Whatever route works best for you, just make sure to have plenty of breast milk storage bags on hand. We did a round-up of our top 3 favorite breast milk storage bags here: The Best Breast Milk Storage Bags on the Market Today.
Heed our advice and keep snacks in your pump bag. Snacks may be the most important of your pumping supplies (aside from your pump, that is). As you have probably already figured out, breastfeeding and pumping makes you hungry! Keep some easy to eat snacks like nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, lactation balls, or even Oreos with you at all times.
Recommended article: Do Oreos Help Milk Supply? Maybe!
OPTIONAL: Pumping Cleaning Supplies
If you read our article on How to Pump at Work, you know that we recommend placing your pumping supplies in the refrigerator in between pump sessions. However, if you prefer to clean your pump parts after every use, you will want to invest in easy to carry cleaning supplies. Our favorites:
OPTIONAL: Nursing Cover
Depending on your lactation area set-up, you may find it most comfortable to use a nursing cover. If you may have people coming into your office (with your permission) while you pump (like in a busy office), wearing a cover may make it less awkward. There again we are all about normalizing breastfeeding and pumping, so you do you, mama! Show people what it means to be a working breastfeeding mom if you so choose!
Related article: When Can I Start Pumping? Let’s Figure It Out!
OPTIONAL: Door Stopper
If your lactation area is in an unsecured place (which is against the law) and you absolutely do not want people coming into your office/closet/area while you pump, consider throwing a door stopper in your pump bag. You can place the door stopper against the door and prevent people from barging in on you. Yes, you can place a sign on the outside of the door but people don’t always read or respect a sign. If that’s the case for you, spend a few bucks on a door stopper for your peace of mind (and boobs).
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