When you go back to the workplace as a working mom, it’s easy to get caught up in buying everything that you may possibly need in order to use your breast pump. Today’s article is going to sum up the breast pumping at work essentials that you need to start pumping at work in comfort and style.
I’ve been breastfeeding for nearly 4 years now, and I triple-fed for the first 6 months of my son’s life. One of the biggest things that stood out for me was how little I actually needed! When I went back to work, I continued to pump and breastfed him at night and when I was home. So I have plenty of experience with breastfeeding and working.
I’ve absolutely loved breastfeeding. It’s wonderful to experience the level of bonding between a mother and child firsthand. And I know it’s the best thing I could do for my son.
Pumping At Work Supplies 2021
If you are a working mom or soon to return from maternity leave, you can use my pumping essentials checklist to help you plan exactly what you need to pump when you go back to work.
Here’s a quick list of the essential items and accessories that will make pumping at work a breeze!
- Double Electric Breast Pump
- Breast Pump Bag
- Hands Free Pumping Bra
- Breast Milk Mini Fridge
- Reusable Breast Milk Storage Bag
- Breastfeeding Cover
- Water Bottle
- Nipple Cream
- Breast Pads
- Hand Sanitizer
- Spare Pump Parts
- Ice Packs
- Quick Clean Wipes
- Zip Lock Bags
- Pictures of Baby
Pumping Essentials for Working Moms
1. Double Electric Breast pump
The very first thing that you will need to purchase or hire is a breast pump. While it may be cheaper to buy a manual pump or a single electric pump, in the long run, this will cost you a lot more time.
Working moms need to consider the extra time it takes to use a manual or single pump vs a double electric breast pump. I personally used the Spectra S2 to pump at work and loved it! I’ve got a complete guide to choosing the best breast pumps for working moms, which is worth checking out to see which type of pumps would suit you best and help you decide which pump is worth buying.
2. Pump Bag
Along with carrying your pump to and from work, your breast pump bag is handy for protecting your breast pump from any knocks or bumps. There is a range of different types including tote bags and backpacks which are perfect for the workplace. Many have enough space to fit your cooler, pump parts, expressed milk, and even your personal accessories.
3. A Hands Free Pumping Bra
A hands free pumping bra will allow you to have full use of your hands while you pump at work. This is a complete game-changer for any desk job. You could essentially continue working while pumping (if that’s something you want to do). Of course, you could just read a book, or use your hands to gently massage your breasts instead!
Slightly different from a nursing bra, a hands free pumping bra has small slots that the breast pump flanges sit in and are held against your nipples. They are really helpful and allow you to fully relax while pumping, as opposed to holding the flanges to your chest with both hands. Word of caution though, you do need to be careful of the angles that you sit, because they can move.
Once you have pumped milk, you will need somewhere cool to store it until you can get the breast milk home. According to the CDC, freshly expressed milk is safe at room temperature for up to 4 hours. If you will be at work for longer than that, you will need to refrigerate or freeze your expressed milk.
Putting breast milk in your work fridge or freezer may not be ideal – what if Tim from accounting thinks it’s coffee creamer? That’s why a personal mini fridge for breast milk is a great idea. There are small thermoelectric ones that are perfect for cooling breast milk for a few hours until you get home. Otherwise, if you have space in your office, there are also modern small fridges which can be used to store milk for up to 4 days.
You can also use your mini fridge to store your pump parts in between uses alongside your milk storage.
If you don’t have the budget or space for a mini fridge, you will most certainly need a breast milk cooler bag. These are great for transporting frozen breast milk, but can also be used for fresh breast milk along with an ice pack. While it won’t make as cold an environment as a mini fridge, it should be enough to get you home each day before transferring your milk to a better long term storage location.
>> Read our guide to the Best mini fridge for breast milk here
4. Breast Milk Storage Bags
Theoretically you can express your milk directly into bottles and then transport those home. But bottles can get pretty expensive. This is where storage bags come in handy. These BPA-free milk storage bags are custom made for preserving breast milk.
Before pumping, you can write the date and time that you pumped milk on the side of the bag. After you pump, carefully pour your milk into a storage bag and seal it shut. Then simply place it flat in the freezer for easy storage.
Another great tip for breast milk storage bags is to write on the side if you or your baby were sick at the time of pumping. Your body is pumping out antibodies to whatever illness is affecting you, and you’ll be able to use this super-powered milk next time your baby is sick!
5. A Breastfeeding Cover
Depending on your working environment, you may want a nursing cover for a bit of extra privacy.
These are perfect because they can be used to wrap your baby when they are little, and as they grow they become everything from a nursing cover to a spill clean-up kit.
I’ve even used them as towels for my baby when I’ve forgotten to bring one. There are so many beautiful colors and styles available you are sure to find something you love.
But if you don’t like using cloth, another great option is a nursing scarf. I used the beautiful scarves from Bebe au Lait, which is a stylish way for working moms to cover up.
6. Something To Eat
Breastfeeding is a hungry business! It’s important to look after yourself while you are breastfeeding, and to make sure that you aren’t hungry while trying to pump, particularly in the early days while still establishing your supply. Those first few months of breastfeeding are not a good time to be cutting calories! Simple snacks like lactation cookies, sandwiches, smoothies and soups are perfect for busy moms.
A clear memory of my first months of breastfeeding was the extreme thirst I had whenever I sat down to pump or feed. It was my body’s way of saying I needed more water.
Making sure you are hydrated is important to protecting your supply, and making sure you don’t become dehydrated.
Grab yourself a plastic free water bottle like the HydroCell to ensure you always have a quart of water nearby.
8. Nipple Cream
It’s really easy to get a bit of nipple chafing. And it’s possibly the most painful thing that is super easy to avoid. This cream helps to protect your nipples from getting sore or cracked. A tiny bit goes a long way, but it’s important to make sure your nipples are protected. I love this organic cream by Mother Love, it’s 100% natural and plant-based, which means you don’t need to wipe it off before breastfeeding.
9. Breast Pads
A fact of life for most breastfeeding moms is that breasts leak… and sometimes a lot. Avoid being caught out at work by always having some reusable breast pads and a spare top in your bag.
10. Hand sanitizer
It’s a small mercy that expressing breast milk doesn’t need to be sterile like a hospital. But you do need to ensure that your hands are clean so that bacteria doesn’t transfer when you touch your breasts and equipment.
11. Spare Pump Parts
Some of the parts on your breast pump can and will wear out over time. Either through use which is normal, or from being contaminated. For example, if you get some back flow or dirt into your hosing.
Unfortunately, if your parts do wear out you will need to replace them before using your pump again. Luckily, pump parts are usually easily replaceable. But you can save yourself a few days or hours of lost time by having spares packed in your pumping bag and available for your next pumping session.
Do future you a favor by having some spare flanges, shields and tubing ready to go.
12. Ice Packs
It goes without saying that you will probably need some way of cooling down your milk so that you can transport it. Having some good quality ice packs will help to keep your milk stored at the right temperature.
13. Quick Clean Wipes
Quick clean wipes are a super handy tool to have in your pumping bag. You could wash your pump parts in between each pumping session or use wipes instead, and just do a wash at the end of the way. This keeps your pump parts fresh and will have them nice and clean for your next pumping session, especially if you don’t have easy access to a clean sink.
14. Zip lock bags
Zip lock bags have so many uses for pumping moms. You can use them to store your pumping parts in the fridge in between pumping sessions, to store wet or dirty things, and in a pinch you can use them to store breast milk. I always try to keep a few handy.
You probably know that you need to mark the date and time of when you expressed onto your storage bag or bottle. But did you know that it’s a good idea to mark if you’re feeling unwell or if you baby is unwell? As your body produces antibodies to sickness, you can give that milk to your baby next time they are feeling unwell to give them an extra boost.
16. Pictures or video of your baby
You may have already noticed that when you are reminded of your baby you are able to express more milk. Seeing a photo or video of your baby will help you relax and encourage letdown, thereby stimulating more milk flow.
So pop a photo of your baby in your pump bag, or keep some videos on your phone to help make your pumping sessions more productive.
An important part of trying to pump at work is ensuring you have a safe and private space. I’ve created some free pumping at work signs which you can download, laminate and use at work. Check that out here!
I hope this list of pumping essentials has given you some ideas on the things you will need when you’re going back to work. Chances are, your situation is different to mine and you may need more or less items for your comfort. Either way, this list is a great place to start and there is nothing here that you won’t find helpful!
Let me know in the comments, what are your “must have” pumping essentials for pumping at work?