12 Must-Have Items that Make Pumping at Work Easier for Breastfeeding Moms.
If pumping at work has got you stressed out, you’re not alone!
Heading back to work can make it difficult to continue breastfeeding your baby. It’s a struggle to balance working with pumping enough breastmilk for your little one.
Studies have shown that working is associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding. This is especially true for women who take shorter maternity leaves and/or go back to work full time (source).
As a mom working full-time away from home, I struggled with pumping enough to maintain my milk supply. I also worried about not being able to breastfeed my babies for as long as I wanted to.
However, I successfully breastfed my second baby for a full year, which was my goal! (I will let you in on a little secret: once I went back to work, I did a combination of breastfeeding and formula. Because I supplemented with formula, I didn’t stress myself out about pumping ENOUGH breastmilk and I was able to breastfeed for as long as I did).
Along the way, I learned some tips and tricks that make pumping at work less of a hassle.
Here is a list of my favorite must-have items for pumping at work.
1. Breast Pump
Obviously, this is a no-brainer. But you want to make sure you have the right pump for YOU. My best advice is to first find out which pumps your insurance will cover. Then do some research on the pros and cons of each of those pumps.
For more help on choosing a pump, check out this guide from Lucie’s List on picking a breast pump.
This is an absolute MUST HAVE if you’re pumping at work.
I recently discovered this hands-free pumping and nursing bra and am DEEPLY IN LOVE. This makes pumping at work SO EASY.
All you have to do is unclip the top layer of the bra to reveal the pumping layer, fit the flanges in, and start pumping. It’s incredibly functional and the bra itself is comfortable and supportive.
As a backup, I use the this hands-free pumping bra.
I will either wear a regular bra or nursing bra to work and zip on the pumping bra when I’m ready to pump. This adds an extra step which can be annoying if your pumping breaks are on a tight schedule but it’s a good second option.
This may not be necessary IF you have your own private area to pump. However, it’s always a good idea to avoid an uncomfortable scenario on the chance that someone comes barging into the room where you’re pumping.
I use an apron nursing cover when I’m at work. It provides enough coverage to protect against giving any unexpected coworkers a peep show but is easy to put on and take off and doesn’t make me overheat when I’m wearing it.
A door sign is another way to ward off unwelcome coworkers during pumping sessions. This is a great idea if you have to pump in a shared space or in an office where people frequently drop by.
You could use something cute and discreet like this Pumping in Progress doorknob hanger.
Or, just make your own, which is what I did for my office at work, with paper and a sharpie!
5. Extra Pump Supplies
I always order extra pumping supplies. This is important if you don’t have a place or the time to be able to wash and dry them at work.
I pump three times at work so I bring three sets of pump parts with me. I rinse the parts out after I use them and store them either in a plastic gallon bag or a wet/dry bag (I have the Sara Wells Pumparoo Wet/Dry bag). Then, I wash and sanitize all the parts once I get home.
Related Post: Tips for Pumping at Work for Breastfeeding Moms
6. Pumping Bag
There are bags specifically marketing as “pumping bags” but you can use anything that fits all your pumping supplies. The key to a great pumping bag is to find something that’s big enough to fit everything you need while not being TOO BIG to store somewhere safe at work.
These are the items I pack in my pumping bag:
- breast pump
- 3 sets of pump parts (in a large ziplock bag)
- 6 breast milk storage containers with lids
- breast milk storage bags (just in case I need something extra to pump milk into)
- hands-free nursing bra
- nursing cover-up
- wet-dry bag or large ziplock bag (for dirty parts)
- breast pump wipes (I bring these just in case I drop a pump part on the floor. I’m pretty clumsy! If this happens, I clean it thoroughly with a wipe and then rinse it off with water before using).
- therapearl heat/cold packs
- nursing pads
- extra shirt
I bring a cooler with me to work so I can store my pumped milk in our lunchroom fridge discreetly.
This breastmilk cooler bag can hold six bottles of pumped milk and comes with a contoured ice pack. The ice pack is great if you don’t have a fridge or are on the go for work.
The CDC states that breastmilk can be stored in an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours.
I usually pump directly into bottles but I always carry extra milk storage bags with me to use just in case. The storage bags are great if you need to save space or if you don’t want to have EXTRA parts to wash at the end of the day.
These are my favorite breastmilk storage bags.
Just make sure you get the adaptors IF the bags won’t fit directly onto your connector piece.
9. Nursing Pads
Even though it’s super important to have a schedule in order to make pumping at work WORK, sometimes things happen that are out of your control. You may run into a situation where you JUST CAN’T get away to pump when you need to.
Hopefully, this is a rarity but in these cases, it’s helpful to have a few nursing pads on hand just in case any leaking occurs.
10. Change of Clothes
I always carry an extra shirt with me just in case (see above).
Just in case I leak and didn’t have time to grab a nursing pad. Just in case I spill breastmilk all over myself (it’s happened, unfortunately).
As a mom of a toddler and a new baby, I find it’s always better to be over-prepared (and of course, the one thing you forget to pack is always the one thing you’re going to need).
Breastfeeding and pumping moms should eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods throughout the day. This includes lots of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
Some of my favorite pumping snacks to bring to work are:
- plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries and Muesli
- low-fat cheese with whole-grain crackers
- almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries
- whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter
You might also like: Healthy, Easy Snacks for Breastfeeding Moms (Who Are Hungry All The Time)
12. Water bottle
I don’t know what it is but I have the hardest time keeping on top of my water consumption. I simply FORGET to drink enough water. Maybe it’s another thing I can blame on my “mom brain”.
Drinking enough water to quench your thirst and stay hydrated is important for EVERYONE, especially breastfeeding mama rockstars.
I always carry around a water bottle to help remind myself to DRINK MORE WATER. I love this simple water bottle. It’s so easy to clean and after washing all my pump parts at the end of the day, I don’t want to have to wash anything else!
Must-Have Items for Pumping While Working
That’s my list of essential items to have for pumping at work! After breastfeeding two babies while working full-time, I found these twelve items are what made it easier for me to successfully pump at work.