Top 8 Breast Pump Essentials for Busy Working Moms
Now that you’ve made the decision to continue breastfeeding when returning to work, let’s get your pumping game in order! Here’s your path forward and “must-have” pumping essentials to help you balance work life and mama life.
Careful planning and the right tools will make for more stress-free, productive pumping sessions, no matter where you work. We get it, mama – Continuing your breastfeeding journey after your return to work can feel like a lot! Whatever your circumstances and schedule, it’s a mega show of love to commit to a pumping routine for your baby. After all, you’re basically juggling three major gigs: family care, work responsibilities and now pumping! By some estimations, a year of breastfeeding takes about 1,800 hours, which is roughly the equivalent of a 40-hour work week. Here’s everything you need to know:
You Won't Be the Only One Pumping at Work!
With so many advancements and innovation in breast pump design and related accessories, along with recently expanded workplace protections (pro tip: be sure to brush up on your rights under the PUMP Act!), working moms now have realistic options about continuing to provide breast milk for their baby after returning to work.
The benefits of breast milk are well-documented through scientific research and clinical evidence, so your pumping efforts will pay big health dividends – for both you and your little one! A consistent pumping routine while away from your baby will keep your milk supply strong and allow you to continue providing your milk to him or her, even during periods of separation.
Research and Invest in the Right Pump
If you’re still pump shopping, be sure to take time to thoroughly vet the marketplace. You and your pump will become one – literally! – so it needs to be backed by clinical research. Be sure to read reviews, talk to your healthcare provider or a lactation specialist and compare your options to find the best fit for you and your unique needs.
If your budget permits, consider the convenience of having one pump at home and another at work. You can also find out if your employer offers any lactation or health benefits that cover the costs of your pumps. Some employers even provide a hospital-grade (multi-user) pump in their designated lactation space, which comes with an individual pumping kit separate from the pumping mechanism. Be sure to ask about any benefits for new and/or breastfeeding parents and advocate for yourself!
Do Some Practicing and Get Your Logistics Down
Just as nursing was a learned skill, expressing milk with a pump will also take practice and patience before you get into a consistent routine. While you’re still on leave or easing back into your work with a part-time or flex schedule, start practicing your pumping routine at home. Learn about your pump and its parts, as well as how to wash and store everything when not in use.
You can map out how many sessions you need during your workday and time each one to get a sense of how long each break will take. Practicing ahead of time will also help you begin building a supply of pumped milk for your baby while you’re away or at work.
What’s Available at Your Workplace Pumping Space?
Before you begin gathering up all your pumping essentials, get the lowdown on your pumping space at work and what’s available to lactating parents. Consider:
- Will there be a sink and counter area for washing pump parts?
- Is there a refrigerator or freezer for storing breast milk?
- What pumping accessories, such as wipes or nursing pads, are stocked and readily available in the space?
- Is it a shared space that can be reserved ahead of time and, if so, is there a place to store your pumping supplies?
8 Breast Pump Essentials Every Working Mom Needs
Here’s everything you should have on hand and accessible to ensure the most seamless, stress-free experience possible while pumping at work:
1. Extra Set of Breast Shields
Since you can’t use a breast pump without a breast shield, it’s a good rule of thumb to always have a spare set available. Having the right fit is important for comfort and efficiency, so be sure to purchase the best size for you.
Our PersonalFit Flex™ Breast Shields, for example, are designed with a 105-degree opening angle for maximized comfort and improved milk flow. A soft rim and unique oval shape allows for 360-degree rotation to support comfortable, flexible positioning – so you can find your most comfortable and efficient pumping position.
2. Set of Spare Parts
Avoid another frustration with an extra set of spares. A missing or broken pump part can quickly thwart your best-laid plans, so keep an extra set of tubing, connectors, valves and membranes on hand just in case.
Remember, if you end up using your emergency set, be sure to replace it so you have another spare set ready when needed!
3. Cooling Solution
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste! A specially designated cooler and ice pack gives you flexibility to store milk for a period of time even if you don’t have access to a refrigerator. If you do have a fridge at work, it’s still a good idea to have your pumped milk stored securely in a small cooler for added safekeeping in the shared setting.
When in doubt, be sure to refer to the CDC’s breast milk storage guidelines to ensure your pumped milk stays safe for your little one.
4. Milk Storage Bags
When it comes to safely storing and transporting your milk, you’ll need specific storage bags designed for the express purpose of holding breast milk. Look for bags made without BPA that are also durable enough for the fridge or freezer. Other helpful features include a double zipper seal, self-standing capability for easy pouring and a write-on area so you can log the date and time for your expressed milk.
Unless you’re using your breast milk within a few days, you’ll need some type of labeling system so you can ensure none of your precious liquid gold goes to waste.
5. Portable Cleaning Supplies
Every part of your pump that comes in contact with your breast or milk should be cleaned after each use. Cleaning with soap and water isn’t always possible, especially in the workplace where you may be without access to a sink or in a pinch for time. Hygienic wipes for the win! Another handy tool for cleaning on the fly is Quick Clean™ Breast Pump & Accessory Sanitizer Spray. Be sure to purchase cleaning supplies that are small enough to tuck into your pump bag for easy on the go use.
6. Extra Power Adaptor
We’ve all forgotten our phone charger at some point and know how annoying that can be. For something as important as pumping, we recommend having an extra power adaptor too. Just be sure to carefully check that your back-up adaptor is compatible with your pump’s brand and model before purchasing!
7. Nipple Cream or Oil
If you’re already carrying a quality nipple cream in your purse, you’ll want a spare one in your pumping bag or to store at work! Tender breasts and sore nipples can interrupt your pumping routine and make staying motivated to pump on schedule much more difficult. Look for 100% natural lanolin cream designed for fast, effective relief or nipple balm that provides soothing moisture wherever you are.
8. Water Bottle and Healthy Snacks
Though technically not a breast pump accessory, these items are just as important as your breast shields! Don’t forget to keep yourself supplied, hydrated and satiated with healthy snacks and lots of water, so you can maintain the energy to balance pumping and working. Aim to drink about 128 ounces (or approximately 16 cups) of water per day while breastfeeding.