Heading back to work after maternity leave means adjusting to your new normal as a working mother. Between meetings, emails, and deadlines, you've now got pumping breaks to schedule too. While returning to work can be challenging, having the right accoutrements makes pumping at the office much more manageable.
The key? Being prepared and packing a pumping bag designed to make your workday pumping sessions as seamless as possible. Read on for tips to pack the ultimate office pumping bag.
When it comes to pumping at work, the breast pump and parts do the heavy lifting. Selecting the right pump for your needs is key for productive pumping sessions. If aiming for portability, the Momcozy S12 Pro Wearable Breast Pump is a compact workhorse that fits neatly into a tote bag. Its rechargeable battery lets you pump anywhere sans cords. Or if looking to save on cost, opt for the Manual Breast Pump - its simple design is easy to use discreetly. Whatever pump you choose, be sure to pack all necessary tubes, valves, flanges, and connectors. Having the right sized flange ensures maximum output and comfortable pumping. Include extras like duckbill valves and backflow protectors for a full backup supply. Nothing derails a session like missing parts! The choice of breast pump is also very important, I believe this article can give you some reference suggestions Wearable vs. Traditional Breast Pumps: Which One Should You Choose?
Breast Pump Parts
It's also prudent to have a second set of pump parts packed and ready to go. That way if any get misplaced or you don't have time to wash between sessions, you can swap in the backup parts. This saves those precious minutes of cleaning and reassembling. If using an electric model, don't forget the charger or an extra battery pack. There's nothing worse than your pump dying mid-session and being tethered to an outlet searching for juice. Come fully charged and pumping won't miss a beat. With the right pump and parts, you'll be a seamless milk extracting machine - even in the office setting!
Pumping Session Comfort Essentials
Pumping sessions go smoother when you feel comfortable. Pack extras like a supportive hands-free pumping bra, soft breast pads to absorb leakage, and soothing nipple cream or gel. Having an extra pumping or nursing friendly shirt at work saves you from potential leaks or exposure. Breast pads catch stray drips between pumping sessions. Soothing creams provide relief from any chafing or discomfort as your body adjusts to pumping. And don't forget the snacks and water! Pumping burns calories and keeps you hydrated.
Milk Storage Bag
Between pumping sessions, you’ll need to safely store your liquid gold. Bring enough extra milk storage bags and bottles to hold each session's haul. Every new mom has their favorites - momcozy will make reliable storage option.
Pack an insulated cooler bag and ice pack for keeping your milk chilled. A small lunch cooler works too. If allowed to store milk in the office fridge, have labels ready to properly identify your milk. Freezer-safe milk storage is great for stashing longer term milk supplies.
Separate Bags for Clean and Dirty Parts
When packing your pump parts, it helps immensely to separate the clean parts from the used parts. Packing multiple small bags designated "clean" and "dirty" prevents mixing of the two and keeps your main pump bag much tidier.
Start by packing a spare set of washed flanges, valves, tubes, etc. in a small zippered pouch or bag labeled "clean parts." This is what you'll use for that day's pumping session. Then pack a second empty "dirty parts" bag for placing the used parts in after pumping.
Once finished with a session, place the used, dirty parts in the designated dirty bag to keep them separate from the clean pieces. When you return home, empty the dirty parts bag directly into the sink or dishwasher for washing. And your clean parts are still separated and ready for the next day's pumping session.
You can use simple zippered pouches, plastic bags, or even reusable cloth bags for the clean and dirty part separation system. Labeling them avoids any mix-ups. While it may seem simpler to just toss all the parts into one bag, keeping them separate really does help minimize messes and cross-contamination.
Cleaning Supplies for Post-Pump Sanitizing
While many moms bring their pumps and parts home for washing, others may prefer to rinse and clean between sessions right at work. This allows leaving the pump bag safely stored away.
If planning to wash up at the office, be sure to pack some key cleaning supplies:
- Microwave steam sterilizer bags - These provide a quick sterilization of parts between sessions. Simply add water, seal the bag with parts inside, and microwave for 2-3 minutes.
- Bottle brush - For scrubbing milk residue from bottles, flanges, valves, and tubing. Look for soft bristle versions gentler on pump parts.
- Dish soap - A small travel size bottle of mild unscented dish soap for washing pump parts. Avoid heavily fragranced soaps.
- Dish towel - A small towel for drying any washed pump pieces so they are ready for the next session.
- Refrigerator bags - Gallon size plastic bags to store washed parts in the office fridge until next use.
Related pump cleaning tips: Make Sure to Pay Attention to These Tips When Using a Breast Pump
Pumping Session Comfort Essentials
Pumping sessions go smoother when you feel comfortable. Pack extras like a supportive hands-free pumping bra, soft breast pads to absorb leakage, and soothing nipple cream or gel. Having an extra pumping or nursing friendly shirt at work saves you from potential leaks or exposure.
Breast pads catch stray drips between pumping sessions. Soothing creams provide relief from any chafing or discomfort as your body adjusts to pumping. And don't forget the snacks and water! Pumping burns calories and keeps you hydrated.
Tips for Seamless Pumping While Working
A few pro tips will make your office pumping breaks go much smoother:
- Get familiar with your company's lactation room and amenities ahead of time. Know the room location, how to access it, and what is provided (sink, fridge, etc). It is suggested to bring any additional supplies the room lacks.
- Understand your office's milk storage protocols. Some have shared fridges with labeling systems for identifying bottles - follow these guidelines closely to avoid any mixups.
- Pack entertainment for your pumping breaks to help the time pass quickly. Books, magazines, a tablet loaded with shows, or Bluetooth headphones for listening to podcasts all make sessions more enjoyable.
- Keep your pump bag stocked with a checklist of essentials. Replace items as needed - restock milk storage bags, pack fresh ice packs, swap clean flange sets. Staying prepared takes the stress out of pumping at work.
- Communicate early with HR to coordinate scheduling your pumping breaks. Set clear expectations on duration and frequency needed for milk expression sessions based on your child's nursing schedule.
- Advocate for your needs proactively. Pumping space cleanliness, sufficient break time, milk storage protocols - don't be afraid to speak up! A little planning ensures you can focus on your work, not just breastmilk logistics.
More tips will make your office pumping better: Breastfeeding Tips for Busy Working Moms: Balancing Breast Pumping and Work
Pumping at Work - You Got This!
Heading back to work while pumping can feel daunting. But take it one day at a time, and be gentle with yourself as you adjust to the new routine. With the right gear and some planning, you'll hit your stride in no time as a multitasking mama. Use this guide to pack a pumping bag that sets you up for success. You’ve got this!