Many women who breastfeed need to pump eventually, and some moms even pump exclusively as a way to feed their babies. Few women really love pumping, so here are some tricks to help make the experience easier.
1. A hands-free bra for multitasking. Instead of spending your precious pump “breaks” sitting there holding your flanges in place, invest in a good hands-free pumping bra that allows you to keep your hands free so you can eat lunch, return phone calls, continue your work at your computer, or maybe even distract yourself online. Buying two hands-free bras is even better because you’ll always have a back-up handy, just in case.
2. You don’t need to wash your pump parts in between pump sessions. Some moms think it’s mandatory that you wash your pump parts in warm, soapy water every time after you finish pumping. This can add lots of time to the pumping routine, and it isn’t always possible to be close to a bathroom. The good news: you can totally skip this (unless your baby is preterm or medically fragile — in that case, clear this with your baby’s pediatrician first). Instead, throw all your pump parts in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the fridge between uses. When you return home at the end of the day, you can wash your parts then. Rest assured, this is enough to keep them clean.
3. Skip the sterilizing. You should always sterilize pump parts and bottles before you first use them, and after any bouts of mastitis or other infections. However, other than this, sterilizing is totally overkill (as are those microwave sterilizing bags, which are not cheap). Washing with warm soapy water as described above is all you need to do. And remember, breast milk has antibacterial properties in and of itself!
4. Have extra sets of pump parts and bottles in rotation. Having at least two sets of pump parts ready to go at all times in your pump bag in case one set becomes soiled or breaks (such as when membranes tear unexpectedly) can save the day. Having a third set is even better, because this allows you to wash one set at night and let them air dry the next day while two are ready to go in your bag — no need to have to pack them up in a rush every morning. Anything to decrease the daily hassle is worth it!
5. Keep pictures and videos of your baby nearby. Some moms find it hard to respond to their pump and experience the same kind of milk let-down as they do when breastfeeding. Having pictures or videos on your phone of your little one can help with this and keep your mind off the pump, which is nowhere near as cute as your baby.
6. Stock your bag with these handy supplies. These things should be in every pumping mom’s bag: hand sanitizer, extra Ziploc bags, tissues or napkins in case there are spills, a door hanger sign to let people know to stay out or knock, one-handed treats as rewards for your hard work, a nursing cover or receiving blanket (in case you need to pump in public or in a different location than you planned for), and a water bottle.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, March 2020
- Many breastfeeding moms need to pump at some point.
- While pumping is never really fun, preparing appropriately can make it go a lot more smoothly.
- Invest in some extra pump parts and a hands-free bra to help make pumping more efficient.