This blog post is about my experiences with breast pumping on the go and includes supplies that I believe every pumping momma should pack.
One thing that I’ve learned about this mom business is that it’s very unpredictable. Before my son was born, I did tons of research all about breast feeding so that I would be prepared to feed my baby. But nope, 6 days after he was born, I realized that pumping was best for our family and never looked back.
Once I became an exclusive pumper, I then had to do lots of new research. I had to figure out how much to pump and how much to feed babies and how to increase your supply/output. And I quickly learned that there’s not much information out there for exclusively pumping mommas! Oh well, we’re figuring things out.
I had always planned to pump when I go back to work since the baby will be in daycare, but then I realized that I had to plan for pumping on vacation too! Ugh! I also quickly found out that I basically need a whole extra piece of luggage for all my pumping supplies. Ugh, Ugh!
Oh well, it’s worth it for my little man. 🙂
Pumping on the Go is a Learning Experience
I’m now 2 months into this mom business and it’s been going pretty well, although I’ve had a few issues which we will call learning experiences! Do not beat yourself up or let post-partum feelings get the best of you. Everything can’t go smoothly all of the time. Just learn from your mistakes and move on, we’re all human. I figured I would go ahead and tell you about mine, that way you either won’t make my mistakes (or if you do, you won’t stress about it!).
For example, the 1st time I decided to test out pumping in the car, I finished pumping only to realize that I left the lids to my pump bottles at home! Eesh…. so silly to have all the pump supplies but nothing to actually store the pumped milk in… duh. Luckily I had a couple of baby bottles on me so I made do. I highly recommend that you give pumping in the car a trial run. Just pick an errand and give it a shot. It’ll help you work out the kinks before hand. If you forgot something (and you will because pumps come with a million pieces), who cares, you’re not that far away from home!
My second learning experience was on our road trip this summer, I accidentally dropped a whole bottle of freshly pumped milk. Not only did the lid completely break, but I lost an entire 4 ounces of milk. Any other pumping momma will understand when I say that I nearly cried! Always, always, always pack extra bags of milk if you are going any distance away from your home. You can always replace them with freshly pumped milk when you get back. (This was the first time that I literally spilled the milk. Now I know that it happens once in a while and it’s not the end of the world!)
My third learning experience was on this same road trip when I went to pump and one side of my equipment didn’t work! I was night pumping and it was dark, and I was pretty sleepy (out of it!), so I decided just make do and pump one side and then the other with the working equipment. The next morning when I was more awake, I discovered that one of the pump valves had a tear in it! Fortunately I had packed a few extras, otherwise I’d have had to finish the rest of the trip pumping each side at a time. As if I wanted to spend twice as much time on vacation pumping! No way! Always pack extra parts. They’re small but essential!
Having the Right Supplies for Breast Pumping on the Go:
Anyways, now that we’ve returned from that road-trip vacation, I now I feel like I have gotten the hang of breast pumping on the go (or at least now I know to bring extra supplies!). Even if you’re not an exclusive pumper, but just a once in a while pumper, hopefully my supply list will help you on your next adventure! Don’t be intimidated by the thought of traveling with a pump, just remember you’ve already given birth and are already a wonder woman!
1.) Breast Pump – Honestly, if you know you’re pumping, you’ve probably already got one of these. I have the Ameda Purely Yours because it’s provided for free by my health insurance. I don’t have any complaints about it. One of the pros about this pump is that it is one of the easiest pumps to clean. I’ve also heard great things from friends about the Medela pumps.
2.) Buy at least one Extra Set of Pump Parts – Washing breast pump parts is a pain. A friend gave me a great tip. Buy at least one extra set and then you can cut the number of times you have to wash pump parts in half. This is even more handy if you are traveling because you may not always have a good way to wash your stuff. You should also take your extra valves and membranes with you because those small parts can easily be lost or tear and they are critical to pumping! I actually pack 2 ziploc bags for each set of pump parts. I label one “clean” and one “dirty”, that way my clean pump parts don’t get contaminated with old breast milk.
3.) Purchase a cooler – Pumped breast milk is only fresh at room temperature for about 5 hours, so you need to purchase an appropriate cooler to keep it cold. We actually have two different ones.
We use the small insulated cooler for really short trips, ex. just being gone for a few hours. It has ice packs built right into the sides. It’s small enough that I actually keep it in the freezer 24 hours a day so that I can just grab it an go without worrying about ice packs.
And someone thoughtful gifted us this bigger awesome waterproof insulated cooler that we use for longer trips. We just fill it with ice from the hotel’s ice machine every morning. I love that this cooler has soft sides. It makes it so we can squish it into the car in whatever space is leftover after packing everything else that babies need (seriously, for a tiny person they have A LOT of stuff)!
4). Be able to Wash your Pump Parts – The newest CDC guidelines recommend cleaning your pump in their own bucket. I actually took my own bowl when we went on our road trip. But sometimes traveling with a bucket is not very practical. In that case, I recommend a pack of Lysol wipes to clean out any sinks before you wash your pump parts.
You also need a pump cleaning brush and I think having a pack of these Medela wipes is handy in case you are ever stuck somewhere without a sink (This happened to us once on our trip when our hotel overbooked us and we had to find a new one!). I also really love this drying grass and just discovered that they make a travel size one that comes with a brush! And don’t forget to take your own dish soap!!!
Below is a picture of my washing station in our hotel room!
5.) Extra bottles/ Storage Bags – Take extra storage and a few extra bags of pumped milk with you when you go! Always bring spare bags, you can always replace them with fresh milk when you get home!!! You just never know when you might have a spill and it’s better to use a spare bag than to have a hungry baby!
6. Wear a cover that makes you feel comfortable – Honestly, if you don’t want to wear a cover, good for you. I’m just a bit too shy for that and I know that relaxing is key to good pumping. I found a that cover like this works best for me. It goes all the way around you, folds small, doesn’t really wrinkle, and (most importantly!) keeps your nipples from showing!
7. Find a big bag for all of your stuff – Companies make lots of bags specifically for breast pumps, but I don’t think it’s a necessity. I personally like this Utility bag (mine was a gift from Thirty One). It’s got lots of little pockets on the outside where I keep things like ziploc bags, hand sanitizer, nipple cream, and leak pads. And when I’m done pumping one day, the bag can be used for something else!
8. Nipple cream – Pack nipple cream. You never know when you might run into an issue. Sore nipples can show up out of nowhere and really affect your supply. A friend told me about this one and it’s amazing!
9. Hands-free Pumping Bra – Seriously. You need a hands -free pumping bra. I know, there’s some rumor that if you get the suction just right then your pump will be attached to you. Honestly, I don’t think that has ever worked for me. Even more importantly, I think breastmilk is too precious to risk. A very thoughtful friend bought me a hands free pumping bra for a gift and it’s amazing. You just never know when you might bump into something and this keeps the pump attached and the breastmilk safe from spills. Plus you can keep on multi-tasking, because let’s face it, mommas are busy people!
Other Suggestions for Pumping on the Go:
- Book a Hotel Room with a kitchen area (even if the “kitchen” is just a sink and countertop, it will be better than having to use the bathroom sink and counter!)
- If you can, let someone else drive while you pump in the car. I sat in the back seat with the baby while I pumped. The tinted windows helped me feel a bit of privacy. It’s pretty relaxing. Not to mention it kills time.
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