Pumping Essentials
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The Top Pumping Essentials For New Moms

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, there will probably come a time when you need to pump. This list of pumping essentials will tell you everything you need to ensure pumping goes smoothly.

Even if you aren’t planning on going back to work after your baby is born, there are numerous other reasons why you might need to pump.

For example, if you don’t want to be the sole person to feed your baby, pumping breastmilk will allow your partner or a sitter to feed your baby.

Maybe you’re going to be away from your baby for a bit, perhaps for date night or going to the store. Pumping makes sure your baby will still be fed breastmilk.

Whatever your reason for pumping, a lot goes into it, and it can be overwhelming initially. Keep reading to find out what pump is right for you, what pumping essentials will make your life easier.

This post contains affiliate links to products I have used and enjoyed. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. To find out more, you can read my disclaimer here.

1. Breast Pump

First up on this list of pumping essentials is a breast pump. Certainly, you know you need a breast pump for pumping, but with the numerous options out there, it’s not so clear-cut what the best option is for you. Here’s everything you need to know:

Which breast pump should you use?

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to breast pumps. You have the option of which brand to go with and which kind of pump you want to use.

You have two main options to choose from when it comes to breast pumps:

Option 1: Double Electric Breast Pump

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump

If you are going back to work, even if it’s only part-time, a double electric breast pump will be the best option for you.

After researching, I decided to try the Medela Pump In Style double electric breast pump.

It. Is. Awesome.

Not only is it a great, powerful pump, but it comes with everything that you need to start pumping. Of course, most pumps out there are going to come with one set of each of the necessary parts you need to use the pump, which are:

But this pump also comes with a small cooler that holds all four included bottles and an ice pack, a portable battery pack for on the go, plus a tote bag to carry everything together. That’s quite a lot of pumping essentials all in one purchase!

Option 2: Manual Breast Pump

Medela Manual Harmony Single Hand Breast Pump

If you don’t think you will be pumping very often, then a manual breast pump might be the choice for you.

Manual pumps are generally cheaper if your insurance doesn’t cover a pump.  They are also more compact and quiet. Plus, manual pumps have fewer parts, so that eases the cleaning process just a bit.

A big thing to think about is if you will be ok with doing all of the work. I know some people who have complained about manual pumps hurting their hands after a while.  If you struggle with hand strength or pain, this might not be the right fit for you.

Where should you get a breast pump?

First of all, call your insurance!

Once you decide you will be pumping breast milk, make sure you determine what your health insurance will cover.

Many insurance companies will cover the cost of a breast pump (and sometimes the extra parts that go with it). That could potentially save you $200+ depending on what pump you choose.

Once you call, you can use the information you receive to decide what pump you want to get.

With my insurance, I had to buy the pump that I wanted with my own money first.  Then, I had to submit a receipt to my insurance company.  Once they received my receipt and processed it, I received a full refund for the pump.

It’s a super simple process, and it’s worth it to save yourself money when you have a baby on the way!

Pumping Essentials Pin Image

2.  Breast Pumping Bag

Breast Pump Tote Bag - Pumping Essentials

If you are pumping outside of your home, you will want to have a bag to keep everything together and organized.

The electric pump that I chose and mentioned above came with a tote bag.  Some people think the bags that come with the pumps are too small to carry all of your items, but I never had that problem with my bag.

On the other hand, any tote bag or backpack will work if you choose a pump that doesn’t have a bag included.

The wonderful thing about this bag is that you can fit so much more than just your breast pump in it. It even has a laptop pocket, which is perfect if you have to carry one for work.

3.  Cooler With Ice Pack

Breast Milk Cooler Bag with Ice Pack

When you’re pumping, you will need to keep your milk chilled until you can refrigerate or freeze it.

Some pumps have an insulated cooler and ice pack included with them, so if yours does, then you are good to go!

If you are going to pump when you are out and about or share a fridge at work and don’t feel comfortable storing your milk in there, a cooler and ice pack will be a good thing to invest in.

4.  Spares for Each Breast Pump Part

Since your pump will come with only one set of parts, you will want to invest in a second replacement set for each component, at least.

It’s essential to have spare parts for two reasons; if something gets damaged or worn out over time, and the second reason is it makes life easier.

I have often gotten home from work, and I am just too tired to clean and sanitize all of my pump parts for the next day. By having extra parts, they are ready for you to grab and throw into your bag on your way out.

It would be a good idea to get at least one extra set of each of the breast shields, shield connectors, valves, membranes, and tubing.

If you decide to buy more breast shields, make sure you are comfortable with the size that is included with your pump.  If the shield isn’t the correct size, it can cause some discomfort and prevent you from pumping efficiently during your session.

This article from Medela’s website is perfect for determining the breast shield’s size that’s right for you to use.

5.  Extra Milk Bottles

Medela Breast Milk Collection and Storage Bottles

When it comes to investing in extra parts, I also bought a pack of additional bottles.

Sometimes, I would have bottles of milk in the fridge ready to use.  I wasn’t wasting a milk storage bag by having more bottles, and I always had clean bottles available.

6.  Bottle Sterilizer

Philips Avent Microwave Steam Sterilizer - Pumping essentials

After talking about all those extra parts to get for your pump, it might seem a little daunting to think about the cleaning process.

I highly recommend getting a bottle sterilizer.  A bottle sterilizer isn’t one of the pumping essentials you will keep with you, but that doesn’t make it less important!

Sterilizing your pump parts will help give yourself peace of mind that everything is as clean as it can be for your baby.

I use the Phillips Avent bottle sterilizer, and it could not be more simple.  You just put the stated amount of water in the bottom, put your washed parts and bottles in, and microwave it for 4 minutes!

Now, I say ‘washed parts and bottles’ because you don’t want to throw them in as they are. According to the CDC, you will need to hand wash them first, preferably in a separate basin (not the sink) with a sponge or cloth dedicated only to your pump accessories.

After I handwash all of my pump parts and then sterilize them, I let them air dry on my bottle drying rack, and then they are good to go! 

The bottle rack that I use is a high-capacity one.  I have found that it holds all of my pumping accessories, plus the bottles that my baby drinks out of with room to spare.

7.  Hand Sanitizer

PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer - Pumping Essentials

While we are on the subject of cleanliness, I always make sure I have a little bottle of hand sanitizer with my pump bag.

You always want to make sure your hands are clean before you touch your pump and pump accessories.  Hand sanitizer will help if there is a time where you don’t have access to a sink.

It’s helpful to remember that you are handling your little ones’ food source, and you want to stay as clean as possible.

Pumping Essentials - Pin Image

8.  Water Bottle

Nalgene Tritan BPA-Free Water Bottle (48oz)

It’s necessary to stay hydrated as a new mom, whether you are breastfeeding or not. When you are breastfeeding, though, staying hydrated will help you keep your milk supply up.

If you don’t know how much water you should be drinking while breastfeeding, I suggest that you ask your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician.  I try to drink around 90 ounces of water a day, and that works well for me.

Keep in mind that the amount of water you need will depend on your lifestyle as well.  If you are a super active person, you might need more water than someone who is minimally active throughout the day.

9.  Snacks

Munchkin Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, 10 Ct

Along with staying hydrated, eating enough calories is another crucial thing to do when you are breastfeeding. You burn more calories while you are breastfeeding, so it’s a good idea to keep snacks in your pump bag.

Usually, when I’m pumping at work, I also use that time to eat a little snack.  It’s important to keep your energy up throughout the day. I like to keep easy snacks like fruit, nuts, and granola bars stocked in my bag. These lactation cookies are always great, too!

10.  Freezer Storage Bags and Permanent Marker

Medela Breast Milk Storage Bags, 100 Count

A great thing about pumping breastmilk is that you can keep your milk in your freezer for about three months if done correctly. If you have a deep freezer, that number doubles to six months.  That’s where milk storage bags come in.

I used the Medela brand bags very often, and they are great. I had never experienced these bags leaking when I would take my milk out to thaw.

Remember to have a permanent marker to write the date and the number of ounces in the bag. You might want to write on the bag what time of day that you pumped. Your milk changes as the day goes on, which could be useful when it comes time to use your freezer stash.

11.  Nipple Cream

Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream - Pumping Essentials

I can’t stress enough how nipple cream is one of the most crucial pumping essentials.

As with breastfeeding, pumping can make your nipples sore. If you put a little bit of nipple cream on before you pump, it will reduce the friction. You can also apply more after you are done pumping to help if your nipples start to crack.

12.  Breast Pads

Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads

Especially at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, you will experience some leaking.  If you want to avoid leaking through your shirt, I suggest wearing some breast pads in your bra.

I used Lansinoh brand breast pads.  They have a little adhesive on the back, so they don’t shift in your bra.  You can also get reusable breast pads, or if you are a crafty gal, you can make some!

Whichever route you choose, I recommend keeping some extras in your pump bag to switch out throughout the day.

13. Pumping Bra

Hands Free Pumping Bra - Pumping Essentials

Pumping bras are so helpful when you need to pump hands-free. Whether you’re pumping while working or trying to get something done at home, a pumping bra helps make that possible.

This pumping bra is so helpful while pumping at work. It helps you to pump while eating snacks or finishing up on some tasks.

You’ll also love: Important Tips For Pumping At Work

In all of the research that I did when I first started breastfeeding and pumping, I found a couple of pumping essentials that I didn’t utilize, but they might help you! Those things are:

14.  Nursing Cover

Nursing Cover for Breastfeeding - 360 Degree Privacy

If you don’t have a private space to pump in,  you can use a nursing cover! I never needed to use a cover for pumping because, at my workplace, I was able to lock the room that I was in.

The nursing cover that I have can also be used as a car seat cover, which is primarily what I used mine for.

15.  Sterilization Bags or Wipes

Sterilization bags and wipes are things that I never tried, mostly because I wanted to save a little bit of money. 

Also, I felt that washing all of my pump parts by hand and then sterilizing them gave me better peace of mind that everything was as clean as can be.

If you feel like this would suit you more or be more convenient if you are pumping at work, I know Medela has spray, wipes, and sanitizing bags that you can buy.

Pumping is hard work, but these pumping essentials help to make it more manageable. Once you are past the pumping stage of your baby’s life, you will look back and feel proud of all you’ve accomplished!

Pumping Essentials -Pin Image

Before you go, check out these related articles:

What are your pumping essentials? Is there anything you would add to my list? I would love to know in the comments below!

Rachel Sig 3

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  1. Thanks for sharing this list, I’m looking to try again with breastfeeding this time around (it didn’t go so well for me last time) so this article has been really useful

  2. Medela is great! That was my choice and I loved it. Unfortunately my milk supply cut short but your post touched on all the important essentials. If I could go back I would have definitely had the hand pump at the ready because I think it would have helped in the beginning.

  3. Absolutely love this post! Needed for every working mama or mom who has to pump. I know this all too well! ?

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