For many women — especially if they work outside of the home — when it comes to breastfeeding, they need more “accessories” other than boobs and a baby. Unless you can bring your baby to work with you and feed them in your cubicle on command, you’ll probably need to invest in a breast pump. And preferably, that breast pump will be easy to travel with in a bag so you can pump away while you’re bringing home the bacon. But what supplies do you need for breast pumping? Here are 11 essential products all lactation consultants carry in their breast pumping bag.
Pumping at work is becoming more and more common, and at least where I worked, they had a designated lactation room with a comfy chair, dim lights, and refrigerator for moms to use. I know that was probably the exception rather than the norm, leaving many moms to pump in their cubicles or offices. But no matter where you pump, you'll need some supplies. I spoke with lactation consultant Rebecca Agi about her favorite products she uses in her own lactation bag, and in addition to the pump itself, and the power cord, tubes, and flanges, Agi names these 11 essential products all lactation consultants carry in their breast pump bag.
“I always recommend keeping a light blanket or scarf to drape over your shoulders if you're pumping at work. Most offices are cold (especially once you start taking off clothes) and having that extra piece can help you from feeling totally exposed,” Agi says. While there’s nothing wrong with “being exposed” while you’re breastfeeding, it may be more comfortable to be covered if it’s freezing in there.
2. Picture Of Your Baby
Agi says this actually helps with let-down. According to the Breastmilk Counts website, “let-down” usually happens “when your baby has been sucking on your breast for about two minutes,” and your breasts release the milk. “Some women feel this let-down reflex as a tingling or a warmth. Other women don’t feel their let-down at all. Even if you don’t feel your let-down, you will see a change in baby’s swallowing patterns and hear your baby swallowing,” the website noted. By keeping a photo of your baby handy, you can help your body with its let-down.
3. Breast Pads
Unfortunately, leaky breasts are just a part of life when breastfeeding, whether you’re pumping or not. While it’s helpful to wear them prior to pumping, it never hurts to have a few extra pairs, just in case.
4. Nipple Lubricant
Holy ouch, Batman. Sometimes pumping (and nursing) does a number to your nipples. And they certainly can get sore. The nipple lubricant is important to have to give you optimum comfort while you’re pumping, according to Agi.
5. Two Bottles & Caps
Of course that pumped milk has to go somewhere, right? Depending on your pump, the two bottles should be connected to the flanges that are on your breasts and then you can put the caps on after you're finished to ensure minimal spillage, Agi notes.
6. Milk Storage Bags
If you fill up the two bottles that your pump is connected to, it’s a good idea to bring extra bags to keep that precious, precious milk. Just make sure you have the next item on this list to keep it fresh.
A cooler is important to have if you can’t store your breast milk in the company refrigerator, Agi says. According to the Medela Pump In Style instruction manual, the breast milk will stay good in a cooler with an ice pack up to 24 hours, as long as it’s at 59 degrees. In the refrigerator, it will last as long as eight days.
8. Hand Sanitizer & Cleaning Wipes
So I guess technically these could be two separate items, but they both have to do with keeping your pump and accessories sanitized for your baby. Use the hand sanitizer prior to and after pumping, and use the cleaning wipes to wipe out the equipment after each use. They make special cleaning wipes specifically for breast pumps, so don’t use those Clorox bleach ones.
9. Large Ziploc Bag
After cleaning your equipment, Agi says it’s good to have a large Ziploc bag to store all of your items, like the tubes and flanges. That way they’re all in one location and you don’t have to go digging around for them in your bag. Plus, once they’re sanitized, you don’t want them floating around in your bag anyway, right?
Pumping sure is hard work, am I right? And most women get pretty hungry either during of after they pump. Keep some snacks handy to satiate that hunger.
11. Nursing Bra
While you’ll probably already be wearing a nursing bra, Agi suggests using a hands-free nursing bra and maybe having an extra one handy, just in case the other one gets messed up.
Every mom is different, and what may be a necessity for one mom may not be a necessity for another. As long as you have the pump and all its accessories, and a way to store your breast milk, you should be good to go. Happy pumping.
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