Everything You Need to Start Pumping at Work

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There is a lot to consider if you plan to continue breastfeeding, and therefore pumping, after you return to the office. Returning to work after maternity leave can be so stressful, even if you’re excited to get back to wearing real clothes and speaking with adults during the day.

I was exclusively pumping for my son (who was unable to nurse). So, you would think that I would know every single thing I needed to bring when I returned to work. Even then, there were a couple things I hadn’t thought of. Here’s my packing list, I hope it can help you feel more prepared as you jump into this next phase of motherhood!

1:  The pump! Make sure you bring the cord if it is a rechargeable style. I LOVE the Spectra S1… It is exactly like the S2 but has a rechargeable battery. This made pumping at work much easier because a convenient outlet wasn’t always available in the office I was borrowing.

2:  A bag for all your pumping supplies. I like a backpack style like this Bananafish bag. This is great because my hands are full coming in from the car with my purse and lunchbox. There are tons of good options for bags to fit your style.

3:  Backup silicone parts (membranes, duckbills, etc) in case something tears or breaks. I’ve had great success with Maymom and Nenesupply brands as replacement parts for the Spectra.

4:  Medela wipes to do a quick clean of your parts. If you need to pump more than once during your workday, these are key. I did not want to hand wash and dry all my pump parts at work after each time pumping. Just do a quick wipe-off and place the parts that were exposed to milk into a bag in the fridge. This keeps any residual milk from starting to grow bacteria.

5:  A bag for your used pump parts. I liked using thin disposable bread loaf bags that I found at Walmart. They were thinner and cheaper than a regular ziplock bag. If you’re looking for something that’s more sustainable (and more stylish), the Sarah Wells Pumparoo wet/dry bags are great. The only drawback is needing to clean the wet/dry bag as needed.

After wiping the breast pump parts down with the Medela wipes, I stick the parts into the bag, and into my cooler/lunchbox in the work fridge. If its my last pump of the day, I don’t bother wiping them and just put the bag straight in my pumping backpack to bring home and wash.

6:  Sealable bottles like these for Medela, or these for Spectra, to pump and pour milk in. Remember, don’t combine milk from different pumping sessions! If you pour warm milk directly into refrigerated milk, you are essentially warming and then re-cooling that milk. Not safe food storage practices! After the pumping session, put the bottle in your work fridge (or in a cooler with ice packs).

7:  A lunchbag to transport your milk back home. I love Pack-it bags because you can just stick them in a freezer in the morning, and the walls of the lunch bag act as the ice packs. Or you can use a standard insulated lunchbox and place a few portable ice packs in when you leave work.

8:  The pumping bra… I wore a nursing bra to work and then just place this pumping bra over it while I pump. The Simple Wishes bra is very adjustable. For women with large cup sizes, the Large to XX-Large size is perfect. I didn’t use the removable straps as they were not necessary to keep everything in place.

9:  A sign for the door if you are not using a designated lactation room. I borrowed my boss’s office to pump (she was a saint) and despite the closed and locked door, people would always bother me if I didn’t put a sign on the door making it clear what was going on in there. Pro-tip: place the sign directly over the doorknob, so they would actually have to move the sign to open the door. For some reason people ignore signs at eye-level. I chose a comical sign to get my point across and so it wouldn’t be easily overlooked.

10:  A nursing cover if you don’t have a lockable door, just in case of visitors. It’s also helpful to wipe up any drops of milk so they stay off your work clothes!

11:  Pumping snacks! Don’t forget to bring your favorite snack and a water bottle with you to pump… it’s important to stay hydrated in order to increase milk production!

I hope this list helps you feel more prepared as you head back to work as a breastfeeding and pumping mama!