working moms guide to pumping

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In 2012 when our oldest was born in addition to becoming a parent for the first time, I started a journey that honestly before he was born I never had any interest in- breastfeeding/pumping. I am currently 7 months into the tail end of this journey and figured it was time to put together a little list of some of my favorite products over the years. I’ve thrown in a few pro tips at the end as well, little nuggets of information that I’ve learned along the way that I wish I was told (post contains affiliate links).

The Best Pumping supplies to buy

Pump. If you are pumping during the day while you’re a work, don’t skimp on this, you need a good one. When I first started, we didn’t have a lot of money and I felt like I could make due with the Medela Swing pump. I will say, for what it was, it was great and worked very well. BUT, i was pumping three times a day, five days a week and pumping one side at a time made the session last two times as long. By the time our second came along, I was made aware that I could get a pump through my insurance! So I got a Medela In Style pump and it was a game changer. Pumping sessions went from 30-45 minute process throughout the day to a 20 minute session. In addition to the shortened time, I felt like I was getting more from each session. With our youngest in the NICU, I was able to use a Medela Symphony and if you are exclusively pumping or have a ton of spare cash – I would highly recommend it.

But for your average middle class 9-5 working/pumping mom the In Style was perfect.


Extra Parts. Make sure you have a few extra parts with all your pumping supplies/on you. Membranes especially. I found that these membranes would easily bend/crease when I put them back into the bag for the end of the day and the next day they were useless. Extra bottles and tops too! You never know when you’ll have one of those days that your supply is really kicking ass and you need more. Or like me, one of those days were you forgot to replenish the ones you used the previous day but thankfully you had extra.

Storage Bags. Lay flat bags are the best for storage – either  Lansinoh which I have heard are good, but my favorite are the Up &Up brand at target. I switched somewhere along the lines in 2012 and haven’t gone back. I had one issue with the bags that I took to twitter with and they quickly responded.

BIG water bottle. Seriously big. You need to stay hydrated, not just when you are pumping, but throughout the day. I had this 1L Camelbak bottle that I would fill multiple times throughout the day. If you pump somewhere other than your office (which is most) make sure to bring it with you.

Chapstick. My lips were always so chapped. And in my boredom of sitting in a chair listening to the pump work, I would always pick at them. Don’t be like me – get chapstick and keep those babies moist.

Bag. If you don’t get the optional bag that can come with the instyle, or whatever pump you end up doesn’t come with one, you’re going to need something to carry all your crap in. I got an inexpensive backpack for everything. I also made sure to get a small lined lunch bag to put my pumped milk in to keep it cool from the drive from work to when I got home. Nothing crazy, this Costmos small tote works great.

Nursing Bra. This one at Target. Hands down. I have tried a number of bras and this is by far my favorite. I literally live in these. You may not be nursing while you’re at work, but you don’t want to ruin a good bra. And more than likely, when you get home someone is going to want to eat and you best be locked (or unhooked) and loaded, ready to go.


Other considerations

Signage.  I made this sign to keep in my bag so that I always have it. I just throw it on any door. Click the image below to get access to the free printable sign. 

Entertainment. Whether you are a book reading, crossword doing, sudoku solving, or adult coloring fanatic person, bring something with you. If you’re like me and pumping in a spare room in the basement of the building, you aren’t working, and if you’re not getting paid, do something you  want to do. I got a second and inexpensive pair of headphones for my bag and would catch up on my netflix.

Clothes. I think I have a total of one or two ‘nursing shirts’. My key is layering. I start with a tank top that is stretchy enough that if I need to nurse I can pull my boob out over the top, and then just pull my shirt up. The same goes for when I am pumping. Layers are key. The only time I would suggest buying actual nursing clothes is if you have a strict dress code at work, and have to wear actual dresses.  

Diet. I eat a bowl of plain quick oats, with brewer’s yeast, flaxseed and a few dark chocolate chunks for taste. I drink a ton of water throughout the day. And I make sure I am taking in enough calories. There’s a reason the time after baby is born is referred to as the 4th trimester – you can still eat for two – you’re feeding two still, don’t forget that. Calories in, calories out, that’s what I have always lived by. I always have a small snack after I pump each time, just one of those 100 calorie packs of crackers, or a yogurt, nothing extensive.

Support System. This is not something you go at alone. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and family. In addition I found a bunch of support groups on facebook and through the hospitals that I delivered each child at. You want people who you can ask all your questions to. 

Storage. If you’re lucky enough to build up a supply that slowly starts to take over your freezer, don’t fight it, just buy a small deep freezer. Not only did it free up space in my freezer and make it easier to get to thing, but it was a huge motivational tool and pat on the back.

Pro Tips

  • In regards to signage,  find the ones that hang on a handle do a little better at getting someone’s attention than a sign pasted to the door. They are more likely to feel the sign on the handle when they go to pen the door than see the sign on the door when they are in a zone or routine.
  • When it comes to clothes- if you can’t pull the neck down far enough to pump, then you are either hiking the dress up and sitting your bare ass on the chair, or pulling it off from the top – essentially either way you’re going to be basically naked sitting there. If you have to dress for work (pants aren’t always an opinion), go for a skirt and shirt combo.
  • Make sure you talk with your supervisor before you go on leave so that you have a secured place to pump. You don’t want to show up your first day back from leave after crying the whole drive in and then find that you have no where to pump. Also, make sure you are educated on the laws in your state regarding expressing milk int he work place – they cannot offer you the bathroom.
  • When storing your parts in your pump bag- I also got a lined cosmetic bag for all my parts. They tend to be wet after I rinse them and a lined back help keeps the rest of your bag from getting wet
  • The first time, I would pump directly into bags. It was a pain, you can (or should) only fill the bags up so much so if it was getting to full, you’d have to switch out a bag mid session (a comedy routine in the making). And on top of that, the measurement readings on the bags aren’t reliable. I learned quickly to pump into the big bottles, then at home measure out 2 or 4oz amounts and divvy up into the bags to freeze.


head to workingmommyabroad to check out some other great posts on this weeks pin party!

About katie

just your rotten mouthed guide through life, reviews, organization and some parenting tips- cause you know, I am a parent x3 :)

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