Packing a pumping bag for work is a different kind of uncharted territory. Breast pumps are strange enough, so the thought of being “prepared” to use it in public feels impossible at first.
It will take a couple days or even weeks to “get the hang of it” and your specific situation/schedule/amenities. So don’t stress yourself out. This is just one of many transitional phases.
Still, packing your pumping bag is just one of many things to prepare before going back to work. So let’s keep it short and sweet. Onward!
- 6 Steps to Return to Work after Maternity Leave (when you really don’t want to)
- Friendly Reminders for your First Week Back to Work
This is first because it is the most important! Having a freezer pack in your pumping bag is critical for a couple of reasons. Specifically because storing breastmilk at room temperature is best avoided.
Breastmilk is already WARM when it comes straight from the tap/boob. Anything warmer/too warm makes baby’s lunch a barnyard of bacteria.
Storing your milk in a fridge is ideal, but that isn’t always an option. During the work day is one thing, but heaven forbid something happens that leaves your hard-earned milk baking at room temperature during your commute or after work.
In my opinion, any commute longer than 30 minutes calls for a freezer pack.
One time, I left my pumping bag plus 15 ounces of breastmilk on my desk at work and didn’t realize it until after I got home. #mombrain
We took a family trip to my office that evening, and all was well thanks to my freezer pack. The milk was still cold, and it the right storage is similar to refrigeration.
A Cooler/Lunch Box
Speaking of refrigeration, you need a proper, insulated, breastmilk storage vehicle.
You need something large enough to fit your milk bottles, the freezer pack, and the cones (??). There were always drops of milk in there, so it needed to be easy to clean as well.
I used a soft lunch bag like this one, and we washed it like a dish. Scrubbed the inside with a soapy sponge, and that was that!
Scrubbing your pump parts down with soapy water can make a quick pumping session take way too long. And I try to abstain from doing unnecessary dishes.
These pump wipes are intended for disinfecting the breast shields/cones between uses.But these are also great for cleaning any surfaces you use to place your pump parts on. There are lots of germs around milk, soooo…..
Personally, I did not use these often because I stored my cones in the cooler*, but they were nice to have in my bag and use as needed.
[RELATED] Tips to Seriously Speed Up Pumping at Work*
Stashing away all the napkins you can find will come in handy too. The glove compartment of my car is the designated napkin home, but these are great for your pumping bag too.
Cleaning up spills *tear* or general boob leakage can almost always be expected.
Captain Obvious is alive and well. Obviously… ok I’ll stop.
You gotta pack your pump lol are you surprised? I’m only saying this because, you know, mom brain.
The night before my first day back to work, I placed a sticky note on the front door that said:
“Do NOT forget Pump & Bag!”
It lived there on the back of the door for… maybe a week, but I was happy it was there 🙂
These are great to just stash at work. Leave them in a freezer bag/grocery bag or whatever you want, but it’s so nice to have them easily accessible.
When I say spare parts I mean
- extra bottles & caps
- extra breast shields/cones
- extra membranes
- extra tubes (although that is hardly necessary)
I kept a minimum of 30 ounces of bottle with me at all times. So I came to work with two 8 ounce bottles everyday and had an extra 3-4 5 ounce bottles on reserve.
Because you know, leakage/spills/etc. A spare wrinkle proof shirt is amazing, but a plain t-shirt will do.
Most of my momiform consists of Target v-necks. The day will be over before you know it, and hopefully you already have a sweater on hand at work.
Hands-free Pumping Bra
FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not use a pumping bra.
These things could definitely come in handy, but I guess I just like to make things harder? So THAT and it takes a minute to strip and strap that bad boy on and I was already short on time.
My pump-pal who shared the nursing room with me could not believe that I could pump without it… And since I’m being honest, I’ll blame my frugality.
They’re like 30 bucks and I am sooo cheap, so I just wedged my arms into the breast shields and called it a day. It left me with some strange markings on my arms, but idgaf. Thirty bucks richer!
However, if you’re up for spending and you have enough time in your day, then I would still recommend one. I considered it every time I went to Target, but my pumping days came and went too fast. #everythingistemporary
Reality Check: You can’t always expect the exact amount you will produce, but you should expect to be barged in on.
I acquired a legitimate nursing cover from a friend, but I always used a spare swaddle. Those things are amazing and I’m so sad I didn’t realize that until I had a newborn.
You might not need it for every session, but it will be nice to have. Even if you only treat it as an apron to catch spills.
This is a *just in case* item that you will be sooo happy I reminded you of.
Time spent pumping does not have to be wasted. I used my phone to track my time and tackle some personal matters while I pumped.
You can pay bills, scroll through Pinterest, or text a childless friend because that is probably your only chance.
I swear to you, the majority of my maternity leave was spent straddled by my little breastfeeder while I scrolled through my phone with one hand.
I will never forget that panic I felt when we were cluster feeding and my phone was slowly dying. Your only connection to civilization deserves some TLC.
Anything’ll do! Sure, there are amazing recipes and awesome lactation-friendly foods, but pretzels are always my go-to.
The trick is to keep it simple. Nothing messy, strictly finger foods, and preferably nutritious because depleting all of your milk stores is serious work for you postpartum body.
Which brings me to…
Because breastfeeding is literally DRAINING. Lactating sucks a lot out of our bodies, and breastfeeding women typically drink 32 ounces MORE than normal, pregnant or otherwise.
And you thought peeing all the time was just a pregnancy thing.
I used to bring five 16 ounce water bottles to work… everyday. And I was still thirsty when they were gone. Since I ditched buying bottles, I invested in (a few) adorable/refillable water bottles.
Alright mama that’s all for my list of pumping bag essentials. I hope you feel prepared because I promise you, it will be easier than you think. Props to you for stressing enough to read this. I definitely appreciate it.
If you think this could help anyone else you know, then please share it with them.
And as a friendly reminder: you’ve got this. You are already AMAZING for breastfeeding and going back to work. No matter how successful you think you are, you’ve already impressed me. Now go get packing 😉
Like this? You’ll love:
- What to do when baby won’t take a bottle
- Why we need to Stop Shaming Supplementing with Formula
- Tips to Seriously Speed Up Pumping at Work
- How to Create the Perfect Pumping Schedule for Work