I must admit, I have a soft spot for exclusively pumping mamas. It is truly exhausting and oftentimes, extremely inconvenient to bust out the pump, strap on your pumping bra, tuck breast shields in, and start pumping.
Breastfeeding is such a beautiful bonding experience that I wish I could’ve had with my son but unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way for us. You can read all about my exclusively pumping journey here.
Although it took a couple of months for me to get into my pumping groove, once I had everything I needed, pumping actually became quite an enjoyable, relaxing time for me
unless my supply was low and I was freaking out.
I highly recommend having a nice quiet space to pump. While I did pump in the room at night from time to time, I had a ‘workstation’ during the day where I kept all of my pumping supplies.
Keep reading to find out what you need to make pumping enjoyable (and productive) for you!
A Quality Pump
When pumping exclusively, it’s imperative that you invest in a quality, double-electric pump.
I absolutely love my Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump. It’s a double electric pump & they’re designed for pumping multiple times a day. This this was attached to my hip during the first few months of my son’s life.
Although my biggest annoyance would have to be how loud it is, I’m pretty sure all double electric pumps are loud. Besides, I was able to pump in the room while my son slept so I’m definitely not complaining.
Although most pumps come with a couple of bottles that you can use, there are many different brands of bottles that are compatible with your pump.
What’s even better is that certain bottle brands have an adaptor that makes their bottles compatible with your pump.
Since I used the Medela Pump in Style, I’m pretty familiar with which bottles are compatible with it.
If you use Avent, Munchkin, or Tommie Tippie, they all offer adaptors that are compatible with the Medela Pump in Style.
Yup! The dreaded manual pump. While it isn’t my favorite thing on this list, it’s definitely a must-have for pumping mamas.! I didn’t use it that often but when I did it helped a ton! Especially for those long car rides when we would travel to visit family out-of-state.
I loved the Medela Manual Breast Pump but be sure to have your own breast shields on hand. The flanges that come with it tend to be a bit small and they don’t fit properly, pumping will be pretty painful.
I leaked soooo much when I was pumping, especially if we were out for a while and I couldn’t pump as often as I needed to.
I tried all of those cute little cotton nursing pads but I’d still always leak through my shirts (and cardigans).
I’ve tried a bunch of different brands of nursing pads and I’ve NEVER had a leak with Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads. They were the perfect size and even come with sticky adhesive on the back to keep them in place.
If you are exclusively pumping and don’t have a hands-free bra, STOP what you’re doing and go buy one now! These were a life saver for me and they make the pumping experience much more tolerable.
Pumping is a lot of work as it is, so you definitely wanna go hands-free if you can!
I swear by this one! It’s super supportive and adjustable (plus the model makes it look so easy). I recommend that you have at least 3 or 4 if you’re pumping exclusively. Be sure to wash them regularly because all that milk and nipple cream gets icky.
Which brings me to my next point…
Whether you’re pumping or breastfeeding, sore, cracked nipples are the WORST!
It’s absolutely essential that you apply some sort of nipple cream before and after you pump.
& Since I’m a frugal, semi-crunchy mama, for those of you looking for a more natural remedy, this nipple cream is an awesome organic alternative.
Extra flanges and Pump Parts
Since the time frame to replace pump parts varies, you definitely want to have some extra ones handy just in case.
The tubing and valves should be replaced when it becomes damaged or if you find or suspect mold.
The membranes should typically be replaced once they no longer lay flushed against the valves.
You can find extra pump parts here..
Breastmilk Storage Bags
A stocked freezer stash is the ultimate goal for any exclusively pumping mama. I loved being able to grab some milk from the freezer to take when we were out and about. That way I didn’t have to worry about awkwardly excusing myself to go and pump for 20 mins(I’d probably be super engorged but that’s not the point).
The last thing you want is to open your freezer and discover that your milk has leaked out of the bag. Believe me when I say that crying over spilled breast milk is a REAL THING so make sure you get some sturdy storage bags.
If you ever want to travel out of the house again without worrying about when and where you’ll be able to sneak off and pump, you NEED a cooler. There are ton’s of coolers out there but you definitely don’t need anything fancy.
A lot of moms store bottles of milk in their coolers and while I’m not knocking it, I di things a little differently.
I’d only pack a couple of frozen milk bags from my stash and an ice pack in my cooler bag. I loved doing this because I could fit a lot more milk in the cooler for those long days when we were out and about. I just kept clean bottles in his diaper bag.
By now you may be thinking, “This is a ton of stuff! How the heck will I transport it all?”
In a cute pumping bag of course!
It’d be nearly impossible to pack everything you’d need the baby’s diaper bag and although the Medela Pump in Style comes with a tote bag of it’s own, I’m all about cute bags!
That being said, tote bags specifically designed for pumping can be a bit pricey. All I did was buy a cute, reasonably priced tote bag and made it my designated pumping bag.
Okay, okay, I know I lost some of you, but hear me out!
When I started pumping I planned to stash a couple of bags in the freezer as I went along but that was BEFORE I realized how much I was pumping and it was an EPIC fail! I could only store 4 days worth of milk at a time before I had to start thawing it out because the freezer would be too full.
After a little bit of whining to my hubby (happy wife, happy life right?), we got a deep freezer and everything changed.
I went from only having enough milk for 4 days at a time to only pumping three times a day because my deep freezer was FULL of milk.
Having a stash really takes the pressure off and makes pumping a lot more rewarding.
Yes, you read that right! My favorite thing about pumping (aside from being able to give my son liquid gold) was being able to have 30 uninterrupted minutes to myself (Can I get an Amen?).
As moms, it’s crucial that we take time out of the day for ourselves. Whether it’s an hour or 20mins. We all need time to regroup and recharge.
I’d recommend a pair of headphones, your laptop, something to read, or you could just scroll through social media on your phone.
Some of my favorite things to do were listen to a short sermon, do a devotional or watch videos on YouTube.
The possibilities are endless.
I hope that you find this list helpful in your own pumping journey and I want to encourage you to continue pumping in spite of how difficult it may be.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s exhausting and frustrating and there will be times that you look over at your husband and son sleeping soundly at 3 am and you want to scream, but hang in there mama.
You are working overtime to give your little one the gift of their mama’s milk.
It’ll all be worth it in the end and hey, you may be weird like me and actually miss pumping.
Any essentials that I left off the list?
Let me know in the comments!