Unless you are a magical, nursing, unicorn, at some point during your breastfeeding journey you will be pumping. Whether that happens to be when you go back to work, when you’re trying to build a freezer stash, or if you have decided to join the elite ranks of exclusive pumpers, it will happen.
If you have to pump, then you will occasionally want to leave your house. If you want to be a real person again, then that means that you have to have stuff. So much stuff! So having pump bag as the designated location for all of your stuff when leaving the house is vital.
Pumping exclusively for a year has taught me many things about what items are actually useful. So I’m going to share with you all of the things that you should keep in your pump bag to help make your #pumplife so much easier.
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Get a Good Pump Bag
You can’t put anything in your bag if you don’t have one to begin with. So go get one. I got a shoulder bag with my Medela Pump in Style Advance that has worked great for me, but there at a crap ton (technical term) available on the market.
While you definitely don’t have to get an actual “pump bag”, sometimes they’re a little better designed for what you’re looking for. Sarah Wells bags are freaking amazing! You can definitely get by with just a large purse or a reusable shopping bag if you want to though.
I would definitely suggest getting one that you don’t mind using for a while. I never carry a purse these days. Everything either goes in the diaper bag, or it goes in the pump bag. Having one that you don’t mind being seen in public with will make you more likely to use it which will in turn make you life easier. So get one you like.
Related: Complete Diaper Bag Packing Guide
Probably the most important thing to have in your pump bag is your pump. If you are lucky enough to have two pumps, then you can always leave your backup in your bag. That will make your trip out the door so much faster. If you don’t have a spare, then you’ll just need to remember to grab it on your way out.
I have the Medela Pump in Style Advance and I love it! We just hit a year together so far and I have no complaints. Actually, probably the one thing that I would like is a portable pump. If I do this again I’ll probably look into the Spectra S1 because I’ve heard such great things about it and it has a rechargeable battery pack.
I also tend to carry around my manual pump as well. Especially if I’m going somewhere new and I don’t know if I’ll have access to a place to easily pump. I have the Medela Harmony and I couldn’t be happier. It helps me empty really quickly which is great for on the go. That and a Haakaa silicone pump and I am all set should I not be able to use a plug.
Just put the Haakaa on the side that you aren’t pumping on to catch the let down. You’d be surprised how much milk you can collect that way. It will also keep you from getting your shirt and bra completely soaked and having to walk around all day with that stale milk smell. Gross.
If you have enough bottles to keep a few in your bag at all times, then I would suggest doing it. If you don’t then this will be something that you’ll have to remember.
I always bring more bottles than I expect to need. It’s better to be carrying a bunch of empty bottles you don’t need by the end of the day than have to dump your milk because you don’t have anywhere to put it. I just CANNOT bring myself to waste my liquid gold!
This goes hand-in-hand with the bottles. If you don’t have enough bottles, enough room for the bottles, or an oversupply and will need too many bottles, then I would suggest bringing some milk storage bags.
I like the Lansinoh milk storage bags myself, but there are several options out there. What’s great is they take up a lot less room than bottles so I can just throw a bunch of these in a side pocket and forget about them. I only use them in cases of emergency or if I know I’m planning on freezing what I pump since they are a one time use item. That being said, they’re great to have around.
Unless you are the rare exception to the rule, your boobs will leak. A lot. Especially in the beginning. Nipple pads are a must. I personally love my Bamboobies Reusable Nipple Pads, but I like to keep a set of disposables in my pump bag.
I will never forget the day that J and I were flying for the first time (by ourselves I might add) and I leaked all over the place by my first flight. My pads were soaked and I was stuffing paper towels in my bra to try to keep myself dry. It was a mess! Ever since then I always have some back ups just in case.
I hate being wet. I even hate that just stepped out of the shower feeling. Even if I know I’m clean, I just feel sticky being wet. And if I have wet boobs in my otherwise dry bra I hate it even more.
So I always carry a receiving blanket or spit up cloth to wipe up the drips after I get done pumping. What I really love to use are flat folded cloth diapers. I love them! They’re cheaper than receiving blankets and they’re more absorbent. I also don’t have to worry about losing them or getting them dirty because they’re just plain white cloths. I use them for everything.
Whether at work or on the go, you’re going to want clean supplies. One of the best ways to do this is to just keep your pump parts cold between pumps either in a refrigerator or cooler, but if you don’t have this option then there are some easy cleaning options available.
The Medela Quick Clean Wipes are great. You can just take them to wipe off your parts to quickly clean everything. If you have access to a microwave then the Medela Steamer Bags are even better. Just rinse your parts off and stick them in the bag with a little water and pop it in the microwave. It gives you a quick steam session to sanitize everything.
I wouldn’t use these methods for all of your cleaning sessions. Soap and water is still your best bet for ensuring that everything is really clean, but for on the go they can really be helpful.
If you’re really worried about it and/or will be gone for a while and you’ll have access to a sink; consider getting a portable bottle brush kit. I have THIS ONE and I love it! It has saved me a few times. Including once in an airport for a REALLY delayed flight. You never want to risk being without clean bottles.
To be honest, I keep this in my car rather than my bag, but I would still suggest it. If you have a pump like mine that has to be plugged in, then I would strongly suggest getting an adapter so that you can pump in the car. I use it driving to and from work, while stuck in traffic, or taking day trips. It has been so incredibly helpful! Get one HERE.All the Extras
Go ahead and invest in a second set of parts for your bag. I mean everything. The breast shields, the tubes, valves, membranes, and adapters. All of it. If you already know that you have a full set of everything that you need available in your bag, then that is one less thing that you will have to worry about when you’re trying to get your kid ready to get out the door. I promise, if you don’t, at some point in time you will forget something.
I have forgotten tubes, bottles, and lids for the bottles all on separate occasions before. Just save yourself the trouble and keep those supplies packed.
So the cooler is an odd option. There are some small ones like THIS ONE from Medela that can actually fit in your bag, then there are larger ones that are basically bags themselves. I say that there is a time and place for everything.
I use my Medela cooler for small trips or if I really need to limit the amount of stuff that I carry. If I’m able to bring more supplies, like to work or just to leave in the car, then I will carry a larger one. I like to do this because then I have a place to store my pump parts to keep them cold between pumps. If I don’t have to wash them every time, then carrying the extra stuff is worth it to me. You can decide what is best for you though.
What else do you carry in your pump bag? I would love to hear about it. Send me an email or leave a comment below to tell me what you think.
Until next time!