Exclusively pumping is a huge commitment. It is incredibly time consuming and can be very tiring, especially if you’re pumping through the night. I’ve been exclusively pumping around the clock since the night we brought Audrey home from the hospital 10 weeks ago. I’ve compiled a list of items that are must haves for me in this pumping adventure. I use these items every. single. day. If you are thinking of pumping for your baby, whether part time or exclusively, I hope you will find this list helpful. [There are several things on this list that could help you if you are breastfeeding as well!]
12 Pumping Essentials for Exclusive Pumpers
1. A good pump
This one’s a no brainer. You need a good quality pump if you are going to get the results you want. I use the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and it has been great! It’s a good size, fits easily into a bag when I have to take it somewhere, and I always get a good amount of milk when I use it. I’ve heard great things about the Medela Freestyle Breast Pump too (it’s more portable). If you are exclusively pumping or if you ever need to pump both sides at once, you definitely want a double electric pump. If you are mainly nursing and want to pump just one side to get a little extra milk, then you can get away with a single or manual pump.
2. Pumping station
Set up a pumping station in a comfortable spot in your home where you’ll be doing most of your pumping. I found this little box in the bargain section at Target for $3 and it’s the perfect size to hold my pump and all the things I need while pumping. In it I have the pump, bottles with connectors and flanges, my pumping bra, a rag/towel, extra nursing pads, nipple cream, and my water bottle is always nearby. This makes it very convenient to have everything I need in one spot instead of having to gather everything together for each session (who has time for that? Pumping takes long enough!). It’s also very easy to carry it to another room if I need to.
3. Water bottle
Both nursing and pumping make you extremely thirsty, especially at first. I found myself craving water like crazy so I went out and got this Contigo liter size water bottle. I figure I’d save money because if I kept drinking bottles of Dasani water at the rate I was going I’d go through a case in about three days. It’s great because it’s spill proof and with a 2 year old around that’s a must (she also loves the flip up spout). Also, I like that it has a big straw because I tend to drink more when I’m drinking through a straw so I end up taking in more water throughout the day.
4. Drying rack
After each session I hand wash all my parts with Dapple fragrance-free dish liquid and leave them to dry on this Boon drying rack. It literally takes two minutes to do and this rack has been really handy in not having to hand-dry every part after cleaning it.
TIP: Make sure and get at least one extra set of connectors and flanges for your pump. I rotate my pieces each time I pump so I’m not using the same ones every single time. It’s especially useful if I’m going somewhere and have to bring my pump with me. I can wash the parts I just used, leave them on the rack to dry and still have a set that’s clean and ready to go to take with me.
This Medela Easy Expressions Bustier may very well be the single best thing I have ever bought. It allows you to sit back and have your hands free to do other things. I think this one speaks for itself!
6. Nursing pads
I just recently discovered these Bamboobies washable nursing pads. They are made out of bamboo rayon velour and are super soft. Also, they’re heart shaped to prevent wrinkling under your bra so they’re very discreet. As far as disposable pads go, I prefer the Medela brand.
7. Nursing sleep bra
I love nursing sleep bras. I wear them every single day. They are so comfortable, non-restrictive, and they look like sports bras so you can get away with wearing them out underneath a t-shirt. Because they are less restrictive than other nursing bras, I’ve found that my ducts don’t get clogged as easily when wearing them, which is another reason that makes them so comfortable!
8. UpSpring Wellmom Nipple Balm
I definitely prefer this nipple balm over lanolin. It’s made out of coconut oil and it’s all natural. It rubs on very smoothly so it doesn’t hurt when applying it. Before I found this I had some Lansinoh lanolin and it was so thick that it hurt like crazy just to put it on. I had to find something better. I actually went to the store to get some Medela lanolin. I was given samples of it at the hospital and liked it (its much thinner and smoother than the Lansinoh). But when I went to the store they were out of the Medela so I got the UpSpring brand to try and I’ve loved it! Definitely recommend.
9. Lansinoh 3-in-1 Breast Therapy
These have been so great! They’re a pack of 2 heating/cooling pads. When you want to use them as an ice pack you throw them in the freezer. If you want to use them as a heating pad you heat them in the microwave. Easy as that!
TIP: I had always heard to use heat for clogged ducts. Until recently. A friend of mine told me that her lactation nurse told her to use cold for clogged ducts instead of heat because it reduces swelling and allows for the ducts to empty more easily. Let me tell you, IT WORKS! Before she told me this I would use heat (I got clogged ducts a lot at first) and sometimes it would take 3 or 4 pumping sessions to fully get rid of the lumps. I would heat, massage, pump, massage, massage, heat, pump…. and eventually it would finally clear up. When she told me about using cold instead, I gave it a try and it worked right away. I use these ice packs just about every time I pump. I feel like I empty better and get more milk when I use them. I do have to massage out lumps sometimes but not nearly as much as when I used heat. Definitely give it a try!
These are my favorite storage bags. They hold up to 6 ounces and the best part is that they freeze flat, which makes it SO easy to store. [I go more into how I store my milk in my exclusive pumping post, along with my pumping schedule and lots more tips and tricks!.]
I started taking Fenugreek as soon as my milk came in. It took a couple days, but I definitely saw a major increase in supply. At 9 days postpartum I started pumping over 50 ounces of milk a day. This number has been very consistent the entire time, even when I started pumping less frequently (I get 50-60 ounces/day now). I have heard from friends who are pumping that it has helped their supply as well. You can take 2 tablets up to three times daily. Now, I have read that it could make your sweat smell like maple syrup when you first start taking it. I felt like I smelled less like a pancake and more like a sweaty old man. Either way, don’t skimp on the deodorant!
12. Pumping Bag
The pump that I got was a starter kit so it didn’t come with the fancy bag. I thought about getting the Medela tote that goes with the pump but I decided why spend the money when I can find one that works just as well for cheaper. I ended up getting a Carter’s diaper bag at Target for $40 and it has been great. (The one I have has been discontinued – this one is similar and I actually like it better!) It doesn’t look obviously like a diaper bag and it’s very large inside. It has plenty of room for my pump and everything I need to go with it. It has 2 pockets on each end where you can store bottles (my big water bottle even fits in it). I’m planning on taking it to work with me when I go back. So far it’s worked out great whenever I have to take my pump with me.
I hope that this list helps anyone who is pumping or planning on pumping in the future. Are there any items on this list that you find to be “must-haves?” Are there any items that you found essential that were not on this list?
You may also like:
My Journey With Exclusive Pumping: Schedule and a Few Tips
Exclusive Pumping: Weaning From The Pump
12 Newborn Essentials
*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own and I am not being paid to review these products. However if you click one of the links and buy something I will receive a small percentage of the sale.