This is a guest post by Katie who blogs at From North to South. We are so thankful that she shared her pumping wisdom with us! Read more about Katie, her blog and her adorable kiddos at the end of this post.
A few months ago I placed my pump on full time retirement. It was a bitter sweet moment, for months at a time over the last five years it had been a part of my everyday work routine. Which for me, meant two ‘breaks’ each day to pump for my growing baby. A break from one job to do another. This most recent time, I made it a year. A full year of lugging that bag back and forth every day. Many days of forgetting milk in the fridge at work. And even a handful of nights when the milk was left out on the counter. But none the less, an amazing year that I am so proud of myself for keeping up with.
I may not have been able to increase the capacity of my mom brain (re: forgetting my milk everywhere) over that stretch of time, but I can assure you my bag was packed to perfection by the end. Because not everyone (OK, no one) wants to take five years and three kids to learn the perfect items for your work pump bag, I’ll let you in on my secrets.
From one bag obsessed lady, there are so many out there to choose from. I didn’t get the black carrying tote that typically comes with my pump because my insurance was like ‘we provide the pump but the accessories are up to you’. I said thank you for the pump and was happy to get to pick my own bag.
Over the years I used a number of bags, when I was pumping and working in the same building I liked a tote style bag. Once I started walking through the hospital I switched to a standard backpack which worked well for my daily treks to and from my office and the pumping room. What type of bag you get really depends how much traveling you are going to be doing from your work station to your pumping location.
Spare parts – Always keep extra parts for your pump on hand. Extra valves should be a staple in your bag. Even with manufacturer recommended cleaning these parts can accumulate some funky fuzzy things in hard to reach places. They can also break! Yikes- last thing you need is to have a part break, making your pump inoperable for the remainder of the day, and leaving you engorged.
Pumping Bra – You’ll want to be hands free. Grab yourself an easy on hands free bra to hold your pump on your breasts. I’d suggest a band kind, or a snaps in the front kind, to avoid putting it on over your head.
Snacks –What better time to eat then when you’re finally sitting down and no one can/should interrupt you? I followed the calories out/ calories in model. Meaning, I was using calories to produce the milk that was leaving my body, so I had to be sure to add more calories back in.
There are snacks made just for a nursing mama that promote healthy lactation. Check them out here!
H2O – Drink all the water. Do yourself a favor and buy a huge water bottle, fewer trips to the water fountain and more frequent trips to the bathroom is a good model.
Entertainment – If you have to clock out of your sessions, DO NOT DO WORK. I brought my iPad one day and never looked back. I caught up on all my shows in a matter of days.
Pictures/videos – If you feel like you are having supply issues, make sure to have a few pictures of your sweet little one on hand. Or even better, take a short video of them eating (at breast or bottle) and get ready for your letdown!
Milk Storage – Bring extra bottles/caps/milk bags, whatever you keep your milk in. Too many days I found myself pumping into an empty Gatorade bottle. Make sure you have a sharpie to label your precious liquid gold.
Milk Transportation –I got a cute little lunch carrier that fit an icepack and three bottles. Something small that can easily go from fridge/freezer, to your bag to home.
Nipple cream – When you start using the pump on a regular schedule that feeling and pain from the first few latches in the hospital can come back and rock your word. And since it’s frowned upon to go shirtless in the office, to avoid chafing, and the urge to rip your bra off like the Incredible Hulk – keep some Lanolin in your bag. This is one of my favorite products because it’s a two-for. Meaning MULTI USE (like baby wipes). Hopefully you’re staying hydrated enough (drink all the water), but sometimes even with all the hydration, we find ourselves sitting in a chair, zoning out to the sound of the pump, mouth open, breathing heavy drying our lips out. Just me?
Boob pads – because wearing a pad in-between your legs isn’t enough, let’s toss some in our bras too. Bringing you back to the days of middle school, make sure to stuff your bra. Keep extras in your bag at all times. I have no problem walking around the house in a shirt that gives the appearance that my breasts are crying, but I don’t like to rock the look at work.
Cleaning products – No need to buy the fancy, extra expensive wipes ‘made for your pump’. Any seasoned mom knows regular wipes you use on your baby’s bum (the interior of your car, the spit up on your work shirt, etc.) work just as well until you can get to a sink for a real good clean. Also be sure to grab yourself a microwave sanitize bag and keep it in your pump bag for use at work. Sometimes it’s easier to just rinse your parts and put them in there and in the microwave, instead of standing at the kitchen sink while Sally Jane shoots you the hairy eyeball for cleaning your parts in the open.
Signage – You’re going to want a sign that says ‘DON’T COME IN HERE, I’M MFing PUMPING AND MY BOOBS ARE OUT’ – but obviously in a more ‘politically/office appropriate’ manner. I had someone walk in on me once, yep. Thankfully it was a woman and mom.
So that’s the big list. The things that are my must haves. I do have a few more things I’d like to suggest, some add on’s (extra little things that might be helpful to have, you know, like the things you put in your cart to bring your total up to get free shipping);
Extra Pump – If you’re a forgetful person, or have a long commute, I would suggest getting yourself an inexpensive manual pump for the car. I kept a manual pump in the car for those days when I ran out of the house too quick and left my pump at home. It was even more helpful on those days I got stuck in some traffic on the way home and was feeling just a bit too much pressure.
Madela makes a effective and inexpensive hand pump. Find it here.
Haakaa – if you have a single or manual pump, you’ll 100% want this. This is going to catch all that liquid gold that leaks out when you letdown on the side you are not actively expressing from. Great for if you feed at breast as well.
And remember, no matter how long your journey is, you’re doing one awesome thing for your little one, mama. Keep up the hard work <3