All breastfeeding journeys are unique, and for some parents, it’s all about pumping.
Exclusively pumping, which is when you only pump breast milk or you pump and supplement with formula, is just one way to nourish your baby in the first few years of their life. It can also be incredibly difficult as it requires a lot of time and effort — you need to pump anywhere from four to eight times each day, and it can eat up hours of time. But there are ways to make exclusively pumping easier, and it requires having the proper equipment. Being attached to a pump that often is draining, so if you’re able to get some products that make exclusively pumping easier, you definitely should.
At a certain point, it might feel like pumping is taking over everything: keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, ruining your social life, and even preventing you from
comforting your baby when they’re crying and you’re pumping. While the below products aren’t necessary (at the end of the day, all you really need is a trusty breast pump and some bottles), they can definitely ease some of the stress of pumping by making it more accessible, comfortable, and efficient. Here’s a look at some products you should buy if you’re in it for the long haul. We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 On-the-go wipes
Exclusively pumping means constantly washing pump parts. A lot of them aren’t dishwasher safe, and even when you have multiple sets of accessories, you have to hand wash them at least once a day. It’s exhausting after a while, and when you’re pumping while you’re out, it can be impossible to wash them at all. These
Medela cleansing wipes are a great option for cleaning your pump parts on the go. They don’t require any soap or water, and they can really clean every piece of your accessories. Just don’t use the parts for at least 10 minutes after wiping. Overall, these are a great way to clean them off until you can get home and get them washed with soap and water. 2 Heating pads
Whether you need cold relief on your breasts to help soothe engorgement, or you’re looking for heating pads to help encourage letdown, these
Lansinoh breast pads have got you covered. Filled with tiny little pearls, these perfectly sized pads can go in your bra and can also comfortably sit on your breasts even while you’re pumping. Heating pads are a great way to help relieve clogged ducts or soothe the pain of mastitis, and some women swear by using them every time they pump to encourage letdown and get more milk. You can microwave these for a few seconds and then place them in a soft pouch to use when hot. You can also keep these in the fridge or freezer to use them cold when you need to calm swelling or engorgement. They’re portable, easy to clean, and inexpensive. 3 A pumping station
In case you couldn’t tell by now, pumping comes with a lot of stuff. A lot of parents like to create a pumping caddy or a pumping cart that holds everything they need so that pumping in different areas of the house is just a little bit easier. A
diaper caddy like this one can easily be transformed into a “pumping caddy.” Fill it with your pump, flanges, bottles, bottle tops, pumping bra, any other accessories you might use, and even some snacks and a book to keep you busy. When you want to pump in a different room, you can just grab the already filled caddy instead of all your pumping pieces individually. A rolling cart is also a great option. 4 Freezer storage
If you have a freezer stash, then you need an easy way to organize the milk bags so you can grab them quickly whenever needed. This
freezer organizer is a huge help. It uses a first-in, first-out system that ensures your oldest milk gets used first so that nothing goes to waste. Placing the milk bags in here helps them freeze flat, which saves on space and preserves more nutrients. There’s a metal tray on top for quick freezing as well. The bags are great too, with reinforced sides and double zipper closures to keep your milk safe. The bags have space on top to write the date and breast milk storage guidelines on the front so you never forget. 5 Sanitizing bags
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should be
sterilizing your breast pump parts once a day. If you don’t have a sterilizer, this means putting them in boiling water to get rid of any germs or bacteria that might be on them. To make the process a little quicker and easier, get these Medela MicroSteam bags. These reusable bags can be used up to 20 times each, and they sanitize in about three minutes. You add some water to the bags, put your parts in, and stick it in the microwave (note that they should always be cleaned with soap and warm water after use and before doing this). It’s a great way to sanitize when you’re at work or just when you’re home and don’t feel like going through the whole boiling water process. 6 A hands-free, portable pump
To put it simply, a wearable breast pump is an absolute lifesaver, and if you’re going to invest in one thing for your pumping journey, consider this. The
Willow 3.0 is a favorite for all of its convenient features: It fits comfortably in most bras (although they do sell a very pretty bra to make wearing them even more comfortable), you can control the suction and track how much you’re pumping with a simple app that connects to the devices, and you have the option of using reusable bags or disposable ones. But the best part? It’s cord-free, meaning you can pump while cooking, driving, working, or even exercising. When you can walk around and do things for your little ones while pumping, it suddenly becomes a whole lot more manageable. The Willow is pricier than many standard breast pumps, but there is a possibility that part of it can be covered with your insurance. One thing to note is that the Willow, like any other wearable pump, comes with a learning curve — but once you nail it, you’ll really appreciate it. 7 Comfortable and easy pumping bra
There is absolutely no reason to hold pumping flanges against your breasts for 25 minutes when you could wear a bra that holds them there and allows you to have the use of your hands. This
Bravado bra is a game changer. It’s so easy to use and very comfortable, and it works with any nursing bra. Simply unclip your nursing bra and fold the cups down, then clip the Bravado on and stick the flanges through the holes. It securely holds your flanges in place the entire time you’re pumping, allowing you to do other things. It’s compatible with all breast pumps and doesn’t affect the suction. 8 A nipple sizing helper
A lot of people don’t realize that using flanges that are the incorrect size can negatively affect your supply and make pumping uncomfortable and even painful. Some breast pumps come with tools to size your nipples, but many don’t — and most pumps, like the Spectra, only come with two different size flanges, which might make you think there are
only two size options out there. That’s definitely not true. Sizing your nipples is a really important part of exclusively pumping, and if you don’t have a lactation consultant to help you, using a nipple ruler like this one is a great alternative. 9 A trick to make your pump more portable
There are plenty of portable breast pump options out there, but usually standard medical insurances don’t cover them. One way to hack your breast pump is to get a battery pack like this
TalentCell. This instantly turns your breast pump into something that has to be plugged into a wall the entire time you pump (leaving you stuck) into something that you can use while walking around and maybe even getting some things done. That makes a world of difference! It’s considerably cheaper than buying a portable or wearable pump, and as a bonus, this one can be used for so many other things as well. 10 Wearable milk collecting cups
Another way to turn your insurance-issued breast pump into something more convenient is to switch up the parts. These
Lacti-Cups silicone breast milk collector cups are much more comfortable than plastic flanges, and they’re easier to deal with: They fit like a wearable pump does, so you can wear them while doing things like working, cooking, driving, or playing with your kids. They’re easy to use and provide good suction, and they’re less expensive than buying a wearable pump. If you use them with a battery-operated pump or a pump with a battery pack, it makes the whole pumping experience so much better. They work with most breast pumps and just offer a great fit. 11 A cute pumping bag to hold everything
Almost everyone who is exclusively pumping will end up traveling with their pump and accessories either multiple times a day or a few times a week. Either way, it’s annoying: There are so many oddly shaped parts to bring with you, and everything has to be kept as clean as possible. Plus, breast pumps are heavy — it’s not like you can throw all of this in your handbag or diaper bag. A bag made especially for pump parts has compartments and pockets to fit everything, and keeps all of your items safe and clean. This
Beis pumping bag is a bit of a splurge, but it has a chic look and lots of features, like a water-resistant zipper pocket for dirty parts, zipper holes for the pump tubes so you don’t even have to remove the pump from the bag, a trolley sleeve for easy travel, and a padded laptop sleeve. 12 Extra freezer storage
If you’re an over-supplier or you’re building a big freezer stash, you’re going to need a
deep freezer sooner than you think. You can use this just for holding breast milk to leave room in your regular freezer. Not only is it a great way to add extra storage space, but it’s also really good to have on hand just in case you lose power and need to move your frozen stash to a safe space. This one doesn’t take up a ton of space and has plenty of room inside, along with removable storage baskets for organization. And when you’re done pumping, you can use this for whatever you want. 13 A portable breast milk cooler
If you know you’re going to be exclusively pumping outside of your home fairly often, you need the
Ceres Breast Milk Chiller. Pumping on the go often means bringing along cooler bags and ice packs to keep your breast milk safe and cold until you can get it in the fridge or freezer at home. This genius product means you don’t have to pack all of that. You can pump directly into the Chiller, which then keeps your breast milk cold until you’re ready to use it. You can also put room temperature or already warmed milk into it to keep it at that temperature until you’re ready to feed baby. It’s discreet and easy to use, the insulation is great, it’s travel friendly, and it means you get to bring fewer items with you when going out. 14 Brushes to clean bottles with
Hand washing pump parts and bottles is perhaps one of the worst things about exclusively pumping, but it still needs to get done. Pump parts have lots of tiny crevices that can be hard to access, which is why having the right bottle set can be a huge help. This
Boon Cacti brush set isn’t just adorable, it’s also extremely helpful: It comes with four different sized brushes that help you clean every inch of your parts. These also come in handy when cleaning bottles, nipples, and straw cups, so it’s something you’ll use often for a long time. The whole setup is easy to clean, too: The inner cup drains water into the bottom section, and the cup pulls out so you can keep everything clean and mold-free. 15 A hand pump
A lot of parents swear by manual pumps as a way to easily get more milk and even increase your supply. The
Haakaa is a popular one because it’s so inexpensive and so easy to use: You just attach it to your breast, and the natural suction is enough to pull the milk out. It’s discreet, cord-free, and super portable, so it’s great to throw in your diaper bag and have when you’re going out, just in case you forget something for your pump or you’re gone longer than expected and you need to pump. 16 Comfortable flanges
If the flanges that come with your pump are uncomfortable (like the plastic Spectra ones can be for some people), then you can always switch them out.
PumpinPal flanges are made of a soft silicone that not only feels better than plastic, but also helps promote better flow and reduces irritation to the nipple area. They can be used with a variety of pumps, although they sometimes require an adaptor, and they can really make a big difference in terms of comfort. They come in a few different sizes and colors, and they can also be used with hands-free systems. 17 Pump lubricant
Pumping should never be painful, but let’s be real: It can get pretty uncomfortable on your nipples, especially when you’re doing it upwards of eight times a day. Adding lubricant to your flanges can make the experience a little bit more comfortable, providing some much needed moisture for your nipples. Coconut oil is a popular thing to use, but if you want something that is more portable and easy to use on the go, grab this
Legendairy Milk pumping spray. It minimizes friction and moisturizes your nipples so they don’t get too dry and cracked, and it’s made of safe, food-grade ingredients like organic coconut oil and sunflower seed oil. 18 A breast massager
Almost everyone, at some point in their pumping journey, will experience clogged ducts. A massager like this one is a great way to help work those out, and it’s also good for issues with engorgement and swelling, mastitis, and tenderness. Small, portable, and easy to use, this
LaVie massager is a great size and shape for your breasts. Even if you don’t have clogged ducts or engorgement, a lot of women swear by using massagers to increase supply and better empty their breasts. This is a great item to have on hand if you’re prone to clogged ducts or need a little extra help in the supply department.
Exclusively pumping can be rough, but it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Some of these products may be a little extra money, but if they save time and improve your pumping journey, they might be worth it.