Other than a breast pump – which is obviously the most important thing that you need for pumping! – there are lots of breast pumping accessories and products that can make your life much, much easier. Here are eleven essential breastfeeding products for pumping.
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Before your baby is born, you might be wondering, “what do I need for pumping?” Here’s a quick pumping checklist of products that can make breast pumping much easier.
What Breast Pump Accessories Do You Really Need?
1. A Hands-free Bra or Hands-free Breast Pump
Before I started using my hands-free bra, I was spending every pumping session holding the breast shields in place. Then a friend gave me one as a hand-me-down. It was amazing – I felt like I had so much time back, because I could multitask.
I used an Easy Expressions Bustier. It is easy to use and the three that I have have held up well for over three years (and counting) and three kids.
Another great option is the Sublime hands-free pumping bra by Kindred Bravely! It’s just your nursing bra – no additional equipment required! It’s super comfortable and has two layers – a pumping bra layer and then a covering over that.
(Bonus – if you use this link and are a first time customer, 20% off will be applied at checkout!)
Here is an overview of the pros and cons of a bunch of different hands-free pumping bras, including some different designs.
2. Battery Pack for Your Pump
If you have a pump without a rechargeable battery (like the Medela Pump in Style or the Spectra S2), you’ll want to get a battery pack for your pump. This will allow you to pump wherever you need to, and not be chained to an outlet.
Make sure you get the right voltage for your pump. Most Spectra pumps are 12V (the TalentCell is the most popular option), and most Medela pumps are 9V).
3. Wash Basin
The CDC recommends washing infant feeding items in a separate wash basin. This is necessary due to the possibility of bacteria in sink.
A collapsible wash basin like the one below can be a good option if you’re using it at work.
4. Lactation Massager
A lactation massager is a device that vibrates and helps with two things – working out clogged ducts, and getting milk to letdown faster.
I recommend the lactation massagers by LaVie. (More on them here.)
(*Note: LaVie makes two lactation massagers – a smaller one with just vibration and a warming massager that has heat AND vibration. They are both super helpful – use the code EPUMP on their website for 10% off!)
5. Extra Sets of Pump Parts
I have at least four sets of pump parts. It’s so nice to have extra ones that you can just throw into your pump bag when you’re heading out an in a rush, and it’s easier to wash them all at once, batch-style, versus doing it constantly.
Also, I like being able to allow the parts to air dry after I wash them (for some reason, wet pump parts don’t work as well for me).
6. Breast Milk Cooler
If you’re going back to work, a breast milk cooler is essential!
If you’re not going back to work, then it’s still good to have so that you can bring bottles with you when you leave the house, or store after pumping on the go.
I used the basic Medela cooler (shown above) and it worked great.
Another option that works really well for pumping on the go – the Ceres Chill is a breast milk cooler that you can pump directly into! (Check it out here and use PUMPING15 for 15% off.)
7. Nursing (Pumping!) Cover
Even if you aren’t nursing, a nursing cover can come in really handy. In your case, it is a pumping cover! This allows you to pump in public and not be a slave to being home or pumping in a public restroom.
I have pumped in a car, on a plane, in an airport gate, in a hospital waiting room, while playing poker (with a bunch of guys), etc., all while using a nursing cover. Other people can’t see anything (unless they are looking down on you), but you are able to see your pumping gear and make adjustments as needed.
I used a Bebe Au Lait cover. However, if you don’t want to spend the money for one, you can also get away with a big t-shirt or towel. It just depends on how often you need to pump out of the house and how long you think you will be exclusively pumping.
8. Breast Pads
Breast pads can help with issues with leakage. In the first month or two after having a baby, many women have issues with random letdowns. Without breast pads to protect you, these letdowns give you the attractive look of two wet circles around your breasts.
(Once, shortly after I returned to work, my milk let down when I was out to lunch with my boss. No breast pads, of course. I claimed I was cold and put my coat on so he wouldn’t notice, and then I had to wear it the rest of the day. NEVER AGAIN.)
I have tried a couple different kinds of breast pads (more reviews here), and I prefer the Lasinoh ones (over Medela and cloth). I like the shape better and the double adhesive. I buy these using Amazon’s subscribe and save program (also great for diapers, wipes, and other baby stuff).
Another option is a milk catcher like the Elvie Catch.
9. Extra Bottles (Lots of Extra Bottles!)
If you are exclusively pumping, you need a lot of bottles. If you can swing it, I would recommend buying twice as many as your baby drinks in a day. This gives you one set to use and one set to pump into, and you can do one big batch of bottles a day instead of constantly washing.
One key way to save time is to try to get your baby to drink out of the same bottles that you pump into. I got lucky and all of my little ones took Medela bottles. However, if yours won’t, try to find one that they will take AND you can pump into. For example, I had success with screwing Dr. Brown bottles into the Freestyle pump parts.
(If your baby will only take a type of bottle that will not screw into the pump, then you’re out of luck – but it might be worth it to try again every now and then. Babies change really fast, and you never know!)
10. Breast Milk Freezer Bags
I highly recommend using the Lansinoh freezer bags.
I’ve also used the Medela brand – initially, I thought it would be the best, since you can pump directly into the freezer bags using the adapter. However, the problem that I found with this is that when I poured thawed milk out of the bag, it would always spill out through the adapter hole if I wasn’t careful (and in my sleep deprived state, I forgot … a lot).
Lansinoh also has a lot more storage room in the bag, which becomes important later as babies get older and drink more milk at their “meals.” (The Medela bag stops at 5 ounces.) It’s easier and a timesaver to only have to defrost one bag of milk for a feeding.
11. Honorable Mention: Other Little Things That Can Make a Big Difference
- Some women find Pumpin Pals to be much more comfortable than normal breast shields. (More on these here.)
- When you have to be out of the house for more than one pumping session, Medela Quick-Clean Wipes are perfect – you don’t have to find a place to wash and dry your pump parts. Just wipe them off and put them back in a ziploc bag until the next time.
- The guideline when you’ve been drinking is that if you’re okay to drive, you’re okay to breastfeed (and pump). Still, making the call on dumping your hard-pumped milk can be tough – Milkscreen breast milk alcohol test strips can give you a more objective opinion on whether your milk if safe for your baby.
- The bökee is a little holder that you can put your bottles in. It will hold the bottles tightly enough that you can take the pump parts off and screw on the nipple one-handed. (So helpful when you can’t put your baby down.) It’s also great for putting your bottles in to avoid spills. Use EXCLUSIVEPUMPING10 for 10% off.
- Coconut oil can help with pumping pain and dry skin. More on this here.
- A dedicated breast pump bag can be really helpful. (It doesn’t have to be a fancy breast pump bag – though those are nice – just any bag that you only use for your pumping gear will work.)
- I used Mabel’s Labels to labels my baby’s bottles for daycare. They are super cute!
- A Haakaa (or a milk catcher pump) is super helpful in a lot of situations – when you leak in the shower, when you have a clogged duct, and more!
- If you have a bigger breast pump, a more portable one can be super useful for pumping on the go or moving around the house.
Did I miss any of your essential breast pumping accessories? Let me know below!