This is the absolute best, comprehensive list of pumping essentials for working moms. It's always great to have a list of tried and true products from a mom who has been through it before!
I cannot believe that I am heading back to work next week. It is definitely bittersweet for me. This is my last maternity leave (if God has lets us have it our way), and I'm cherishing these final hours.
However, I am also getting ready for becoming bag lady! Monday morning is definitely going to get a little cray cray for me. I'm going to have to remember two elementary school backpacks, two daycare bags, laptop bag, purse, gym bag, lunch bag and my pump bag. I just got a little dizzy.
My Favorite Pumping Essentials for a Working Mom
With this being my fourth time going back to work, I think I've got it down solid (I'm probably jinxing myself). Anywho, I wanted to share with you my VERY favorite products. These are TRIED AND TRUE breast pumping products that I OWN. Some of these I actually discovered through friends and research on THIS maternity leave. I seriously cannot believe I had not heard of these before baby number four.
Tried and True Pumping Essentials for Going Back to Work
Pumping Essentials - The Pump Debate: Spectra vs. Medela Freestyle
Spectra S1 Pump. Ya'll. I've used the Medela Freestyle for the last three pregnancies, thinking that it was the Cadillac of breast pumps. Boy was I wrong.
Comparing the Spectra S1 versus the Medela Freestyle, the Spectra gets the JOB DONE! It is more efficient and takes LESS time than the Medela Freestyle. I am not kidding.
It's a little bulkier and may not come with a bag or freezer ice packs, but you can get those separately. When we are talking getting your milk expressed, this does the job.
I remember pumping with the Medela Freestyle, and there were times that the suction was not strong enough because the pump at its highest suctioning power could not pull the milk out. I have NEVER had this problem with the Spectra S1 Pump.
This is THE PUMP that you need to get, hands down.
Pumping Essentials - Spectra Pump Bag Favorite
New Yorker Breast Pump Bag by Charlie G. I've had a lot of pump bags. From the Medela Freestyle one that came with the pump to using different diaper bags to hide the obvious yellow/black that screamed "HEY! I'M A PUMP BAG", I had given up on finding the perfect bag.
That is, until my coworker came in sporting this beauty. It is black with gold hardware. This pump bag has TONS of storage and fits MOST pumps (including the Spectras). If you have a Spectra, this is THE Spectra Pump Bag you want to get!
It has POCKETS GALORE. One of the things I hated about most diaper bags was that they would have pockets, but none of them would enclosures for each pocket, so things just basically moved around from compartment to compartment.
This bag has enclosures for almost every pocket. And get this - this Spectra pump bag fits my LAPTOP! Y'all, I'm down to one last bag for this return to work!
Literally, the top compartment separates the bottom compartment.
There are pockets inside, outside, basically everywhere on this Spectra pump bag. This is a pumping essential for any mom going back to work!
The only thing I don't like about the New Yorker Bag is if I don't keep the pump INSIDE the bag, the bag flops over.
However, 90% of the time I'm at work, the pump will remain inside the bag because I can still reach the buttons from there.
But if I wanted to use it as a regular purse, I would probably have to stick a big wallet or something in the bottom compartment.
Also, the zippers are hard to open - but that's because they are made of really, really good zipper material. That's two cons, but I would still recommend this bag over any other bag.
If you are looking for a diaper bag that doesn't need to hold your pump, check out my Lily Jade Meggan Bag review.
Supplies Inside Your Work/Pump Bag
Pumping Bra. The one I linked to is the one that I use. I've had this for six years - and it is still in amazing shape. I love how the velcro in the back adjust to how wide your chest is. I would recommend getting the pink one because if you spill (or spray) any milk, the black doesn't hide it as well. I know, TMI.
It is also easy to zip up and down and you can use it without a strap or with a strap. It just works.
Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags. I've tried other bags, including going cheap and buying Walmart snack bags to hold the milk. The Walmart snack bag was a very very bad idea because they break easily and breast milk is like gold, so I cried every time the bags ruptured. I also tried the Medela bags and they were not as easy to use. I love the Lansinoh bags.
However, I hate the new design they came out within the past year where you have to tear the perforation from the top. So annoying! But that's one little gripe for this amazing pumping essential!
They also fit perfectly in the USPS medium size mailboxes in rows of two PERFECTLY.
Nursing Pads. I've tried the cotton, reusable breast pads. They weren't for me because I soaked through them. Maybe I got the wrong kind, maybe I have too much milk, I dunno they didn't work for me. I've also tried the Medela nursing pads, they were WAY TOO thin and did not fold in my bra right - so it always looked like I was stuffing my bra.
Lansinoh apparently has the breast down - these nursing pads shape with your body and hold a lot of milk. I once accidentally washed one in the laundry, and when it came out it looked like a big, wet heavy diaper. I love this nursing pad. The only gripe I have about this is that they are packaged individually - obviously for sanitary reasons.
But dang, ripping a little plastic each time I need a new pad gets annoying. I still recommend it.
Hand Sanitizer. Enough said.
Silicon Gallon Bags. I used to wash my pump parts EVERY TIME I pumped at work. I'd get looks from girls who obviously didn't have kids yet in the bathroom. I'd also get annoyed by how much time it took the three times I pumped at work.
However, using a silicon bag and throwing it in the refrigerator allows you to not have to clean it and reuse it for the next pump time.
Obviously, you need to clean it daily! Another con to this is that every time you pump after the first time, your breasts might get a little cold 🙂 I would be careful about which ones you buy on Amazon. I spent $10 on one and it was terrible.
This silicon bag is flexible like fabric and is not transparent, so no one at work will see what's inside of the bag unless they actually pick it up and stare at it. Buy this one!
Breast Milk Cooler. I have the Medela Breast Milk Cooler Set already from my previous purchase of the Freestyle. I would recommend a smaller cooler to fit your bottles. I used to just pump and put the bottle in the cooler. What I have started to do is actually pour the milk inside of the milk bag, put the bottle in the silicon gallon bag to pump later.
That way, I'd have less bottles to clean and I save time from having to pour later at home. Yep. Thought of everything.
Update 10/24/2017: I actually don't bring a cooler anymore because our company provides a freezer for our milk. I pump at work, I put the parts in the silicon bags so that I don't have to wash between pumping, I lay the milk bag down flat to freeze, and pick it up at the end of the day. I then wash my parts with that night's dinner dishwashing cycle!
Milk Savers. Ahhh...why haven't I heard of these until now? It is not necessarily a "bring to work" type product. However, it could be during your first feeding of the day with baby. When baby is feeding, you know how your other breast might be collecting milk inside the breast pad?
Well, instead of just trashing that gold liquid, why not catch it with a breast milk collector? That's what this is. This will collect the milk that is dripping from your other breast while you are feeding baby. And you can use that milk to put in a bottle for the daycare provider for their next feeding. Hecks yeah!
Pen/Sharpie. You need something to mark the name and date on the milk bags. Pens do great with the Lansinoh bags.
Medela Quick Clean Wipes. Okay, I know I've been kind of hard on Medela in this post. But you know what they have that's great? Their wipes! Yes, they are kind of expensive, but worth it. I love how easy it makes cleaning up your last pump of the day! And no, you cannot just use Lysol wipes (hello, chemicals).
They are hygienic wipes that are safe and effective, without requiring soap and water. I'll use this for my last pumping session at work, then wash the parts again when I get home.
Update as of 10/24/2017: I actually don't use these wipes anymore because I put all of my pump parts into the silicon bags and store them in the refrigerator at work between pumping sessions. I would still keep some on hand in your bag in the event that you are in the middle of nowhere needing to pump, because it will happen.
Drying rack. When you get home, I highly suggest getting this Boon Grass. Because of how awkward breast pump accessories are, the Boon Grass allows you to lay the parts flat or sticking up. Some of those other bottle drying racks have universal accessories that don't always fit the parts correctly enough to dry them.
These are hands down my favorite products as a pumping working mom. Did I miss anything on this list? Check out some more working mom hacks below or here. Pin the image below!
If you liked this post, check out my diaper bag essentials post for details!