A new mom in my family is getting ready to return to work this month and I’ve been talking with her about how I pumped at work and away from home. In our discussion, I realized there were several pumping accessories that I found to be very helpful and really let me be more comfortable pumping. So in today’s third part of MomsPumpHere.com’s four-part Happy Pump Day series, I am revealing my “other stuff.”
Contoured ice pack – This is helpful if you’re storing milk in actual bottles after pumping it. This way you can be sure the milk is staying chilled with direct contact to the cooler. They’re available at Target for less than $5 and are shorter than the traditional cooler packs.
Cooler Bag – Be sure to get an insulated bag that can contain any spillage. There are some attractive cooler bags that will leak spilled milk all over your laptop and cell phone if you’re not careful about positioning your milk upright. Be honest enough with yourself that your bag will NOT always be in an upright position – whether it’s on the floor of the backseat of your car and you or your toddler step on it accidentally while trying to wrestle the baby into the middle seat or if your dog knocks the bag over as you’re heading out the door for the day. We might not all cry over spilled milk, but every pumping mom I know has complained about spilled milk.
Power Adapters for the pump (if using electric style) – The pumps come with one AC adapter for plugging in at home, but it’s wise to purchase one or two additional units to keep at work or in another part of your house. I had one in my office, one in the bedroom, and one in my living room so that I could easily hook up the pump without having to unwind cords and find an outlet. This is very important if you have older children around – you don’t want the two year old to watch you plug your pump in, and then two minutes into your pumping session have the power supply removed because your little one is intrigued by putting a plug in/out of the socket. Some manufacturers also carry battery packs and car adapters for their units. The battery pack is handy if you’re stuck and need to pump outdoors or anywhere else no electricity is available. Everyone at MomsPumpHere.com is adamantly against pumping in restrooms, but sometimes there is no other choice – and having a battery pack is very helpful for those instances.
Hands-Free Bra – This may or may not be a necessity. My neighbor, for example, is a teacher and she used a tube-top style bra with a zipper in the front so that she could easily pump while she was between her classes. She felt it kept her from needing to buy nursing bras and she could pump fairly privately in her teachers’ lounge because she was sufficiently covered. Contrastly, I had my own office when I was pumping at work so I would pull down the blinds, take off my lab coat and pump privately without worrying about exposing my breasts to any co-workers. If I needed to pump hands-free at home, I could position my bras and nursing tanks to hold the pump pieces while I held my baby or read a story to my older children.
A noise machine (fan, radio, air conditioner) - Most of my pumping was done in my office at work, which was at the end of a short hallway but shared a wall with the main conference room for my company. Someone commented to me once they could hear the sound of the pump through the wall and I was mortified. To ease their comfort and to quiet the sounds of the pump, I brought in a small desktop fan to put on to drown out the whoosh-whoosh noise for them. This way my neighbors could easily take their phone calls and have conversations without explaining the sounds of my pump to every meeting member, and I wasn’t banished to a ladies’ room to express milk.
Pashmina/Scarf – If you are out in public and would like to pump discreetly, a pashmina or wrap can be a tremendous help. I’ve pumped in many parking lots before and after meetings with some of my customers and my pink and purple pashminas have been stowed in my pump bag for that purpose. I can loosely drape it around my neck and sufficiently cover the pumping pieces so that I can comfortably pump. It folds up very easily and is light enough to not add any weight to anything I carry it in. I’ve pumped at dinner during a bachelorette party using my purple scarf as protection. Another mom knew what I was doing and we still laugh about it – we both knew I was making milk for my baby while the bride was doing shots two seats away.
Tote Bag big enough to carry everything – I was not successful at lugging all my “other stuff” in the factory-supplied bag the breastpumps came in. I realized I could unvelcro the double electric pump from its carrying case and make my larger purses/work bags/laptop bags/cooler bags into my own, customized pump bag. I turned my splurge Coach diaper bag (Marshalls for $100 back in 2008) into my pump/cooler/lunch/laptop bag with plenty of room left for a diaper and some wipes.
My suggestions above are very objective. Each of these items can help you be successful with pumping, but here’s where it gets sappy, though. The best accessory for your breast pump will always be photos and thoughts of your little one. The sacrifice and effort it takes to express, store and transport food for your baby is priceless and the reason behind it is the most important value in the world. You are doing this for the health and well-being of your family, and it’s always important to remind yourself that it’s your love for your little one that will make your bag lighter, your pumping session shorter, and your time away from baby less stressful.
Happy Pump Day, MomsPumpHere.