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 seven 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 Do You Really Need for Pumping Breast Milk?
1. A Hands-free Bra
I use an Easy Expressions Bustier, and I found it life-changing when I started using it for exclusive pumping. It is super easy to use and the three that I have have held up well for over three years (and counting) and three kids.
Before I started using it, I was spending every pumping session holding the breast shields in place. Then a friend gave me one of these bustiers as a hand-me-down. It was amazing – I felt like I had so much time back, because I could multitask. I eventually bought a few more so that I could wash mine, and later so I could leave one at work.
The way it works is that the bustier zips up in the middle and holds the breast shields in place so that your hands are free to work on your laptop, play with your baby, eat a sandwich, etc.
Here is an overview of the pros and cons of a bunch of different hands-free pumping bras, including some different designs.
2. 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).
3. 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).
4. 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!)
5. 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.
6. 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 use 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.
7. Other Little Things That Can Make a Big Difference
- Some women find Pumpin Pals to be much more comfortable than normal breast shields.
- 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.
- Before your nipples have “toughened up,” lanolin can help. You can also try coconut oil.
- Lactalites are a pumping light that can making pumping at night (and getting back to sleep) easier.
Did I miss any of your essential breast pumping accessories? Let me know below!