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All things pumping part 2: Pumping gear & accessories

Hello! Here is part 2 of my pumping post series. Today we are talking about all of my favorite pumping gear! I’ve listed all of the essentials as well as some fun pumping “extras.” I hope this list helps other pumping moms out there!

The basics

The pump: When I first started pumping, I only pumped every now and then just so we could have a little bit of milk on hand for occasional bottle feedings. The Evenflo Single Breast Pump worked just fine for these rare pumping sessions and was a great option for only $40. Once I had to get way more serious about pumping, I upgraded to the Medela Pump in Style double breast pump which is way more expensive but covered by insurance! (I just got the basic pump, not all the accessories though). While I was waiting for my Medela pump to arrive but also had to suddenly transition to exclusive pumping, I was able to rent a super hardcore double pump from the local hospital. I think most hospitals do this, so if you find yourself in an “emergency pumping” situation there’s a tip for you.

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Breast shields: It only took me a few pumping sessions to realize that perfectly fit breast shields are absolutely necessary for productive pumping sessions. I bought these Maymom breast shields and was able to get a lot more milk in a shorter amount of time. If you’re unsure what size to get, Maymom has a “variety pack” so you can try a few different options!

Bungee cords: I mentioned this in my last post, but we put bungee cords around my pump to use as one-handed carrying straps! Not the classiest look, but very practical and cheap. I considered buying a little tote bag but thought that the bungees took up less space and were just easier all around.

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Bottles: I’ve tried at least five different bottle types and brands for pumping (and I could write a whole other post on bottle/nipple types for feeding), but my favorite pumping bottles ended up being the Medela bottles. First, the cap screws on and off easily (even with one hand!). Second, the bottles rarely (if ever) leaked. Third, the measurement labels on the bottle exterior never washed off. Fourth, I found that the fat/cream of the milk didn’t get stuck to the sides of these bottles, making them easy to pour and wash. It must have something to do with their wider top and narrower base. Anyways, I ran into all of these issues with bottles from other brands, so I recommend Medela all the way!

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Hands-free bra: I also tried a ton of different hands free pumping bras. And you know what? NONE of them were as good as my homemade one! Yep. I had this cheap-o sports bra in my closet and cut two little slits in it per the recommendation of a friend when I had to suddenly start exclusively double pumping without any of the right equipment/accessories. This bra lasted through THOUSANDS of pumping sessions and washing cycles. It was sturdier and easier to take on and off than specifically designed pumping bras. And its little zipper didn’t break until the very last week of my pumping career! For $23, it was the best investment I ever made!

Bottle brush: We only compared a couple of bottle brushes. OXO’s bottle brush was the winner, hands-down. It’s firm, compact, and comes with its own handy-dandy drying stand.

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Pumping on the go

Battery pack: A battery pack is great for those moments when you need to pump but don’t have an outlet nearby. The Medela battery pack was a lifesaver for me! It’s not quite as powerful as an outlet (so you might have to adjust the strength settings) but very handy for emergencies. It’s very light and compact, so I just kept it in my diaper bag at all times as a backup.

Power inverter: Pumping in the car is one of the best ways to save time! This Bestek power inverter plugs into your cigarette lighter. It got hundreds of hours of use in my car. Plus it has two outlets so you can charge your phone while you drive too :)

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Tote bag: Okay, so I’m listing this as something I really don’t think you absolutely need. I tried a couple of different bags for my pump and ultimately decided that they were more work than they were worth. I usually kept my pump in my car or in the bottom of our stroller. I liked keeping it loose/open so that I didn’t have to bother unpacking and repacking it! If I needed to take it inside somewhere I just packed it into my diaper bag. Easy!

Heating & cooling

Cooler: I also tried a handful of coolers and found that an extra-insulated, small cooler was the best for storing pumped breast milk bottles at home (sometimes we’d keep milk in a cooler overnight in our room upstairs so we wouldn’t have to walk downstairs to the fridge to get milk at 1 a.m.). However, I ended up using this extra-tall cooler more often when I was out and about for a few reasons. First, its square shape is easier to pack and stuff into car trunks, larger bags, etc. Second, its extra-tall shape meant that I could also store Dr.Brown’s bottles in there, which we sometimes used for feeding. Third, the long strap was easy to carry on your shoulder — meaning you had a free hand! And lastly, I like the little pocket on the outside for storing spoons, wallet, phone, whatever! Yes it has a cheesy pink “mommy knows best ” logo but I got over it.

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Thermos (not a bottle warmer): We also kept a 40-ounce thermos of hot water in our room overnight for easy bottle heating. We actually had this fancy pants bottle warmer and then returned it because the Thermos was way easier! Plus it doesn’t require an outlet and takes up way less space than a bottle warmer. All you need is a deep bowl to pour the water into, and ta-da: Warm milk in minutes! And, bonus, now we have a hardcore thermos to use if we ever go camping :)

Ice packs: I liked these small ice packs for short little outings (they slip into diaper bags/purses/coolers easily); these medium ice packs for half-day excursions (love the bottle indentations), and these large ice packs for hardcore overnight/all-day trips. I also would use frozen milk as makeshift “ice packs” if I needed to let some thaw out during the day and also have some cool and ready to use. You can never have too many ice packs!

Freezer bags: My favorite freezer bags are the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. I have over 1,000 ounces of milk in my freezer and I don’t think I’ve spilled a drop with these bags. Easy, high-quality, and cheap! 

Deep freezer: If you’re really serious about stocking up on milk, you might want to invest in a second freezer. There’s no way we could have stored all of my backup milk without a deep freezer in the garage!

Just for fun

Brewer’s yeast: Brewer’s yeast is one of the “magic” breast milk supply foods. I ordered a bunch and put it in cookies, muffins, pancakes — everything! Other foods that reportedly increase your supply are coconut, oatmeal, dark chocolate, and strawberries. This recipe was one of my go-to’s. 

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Breastfeeding supplement: Again, I can’t make any promises that these little drops will boost your supply. But, my doctor did recommend them so maybe they’re legit! They taste pretty nasty but are full of good things like fenugreek, thistle, and fennel — other magical herbs.

Baby bouncer chair/activity center: If your baby is like mine, I bet he/she will LOVE tugging at your pump and trying to grab the tubing and electrical cord :). If A was awake while I was pumping, I kept her at a safe distance from my pump with this bouncer chair (when she was little) and this activity center (as she got older). 

Hulu: Pumping is a big commitment, and if you’re going to dedicate hours of your day to it then you deserve a treat. Splurge on a Hulu or Netflix subscription to help pass the time! I watched a whole season of Bachelor in Paradise while pumping. No shame.

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What pumping accessories did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “All things pumping part 2: Pumping gear & accessories

  1. What was your pumping schedule? I’m curious how some moms do it! My little one is only two months old but I may have to switch to exclusive pumping and like hearing how moms made it work schedule wise!

  2. This post just brought back my least favorite baby phase memories. I despised everything about pumping. Good for you for keeping it up!

  3. I just finished pumping last month, and I agree with everything in this post! I did splurge on the upgraded Medela pump. I bought the Pump In Style Advanced with on-the-go Tote. I pumped for 8 months and it was worth the extra cost after insurance. The tote bag had easy access to the pump and compartments for all of the accessories. It also had just enough extra room for my cover, my wallet, and some snacks! The cooler and ice pack it came with said it would keep the bottles cold for 10 hours, and it did!