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13 Essential Items for Exclusive Pumping

By Katie |

Like most pregnant women, I had an idea of what my future would be like. I would have my son, we would have many sleepless nights together and oh yea, he would breastfeed. It took 24 hours for that illusion to be shattered and so, as with all things, I had to adjust my plan a bit. Instead of breastfeeding, I am pumping. I will not pretend that I like it because I hate it with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but for now, it’s what I’m doing.

One of the more frustrating parts of exclusive pumping is how much stuff you need for it. Now, admittedly, breastfeeding isn’t as free as everyone says, you need the nursing bras, the nursing pads and pillows, but that’s about where the list ends, plus or minus a few other small things. But for pumping you need a much more significant and expensive list of things. For the first few weeks, everytime I thought I had everything, I’d discover one more item I needed.

After almost 3 months, I think I’m finally finished with all my purchases and these are my 13 essential items for exclusive pumping.

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Necessary Items to Exclusively Pump Breast Milk

Hospital grade pump

I know that some women are blessed with a tremendous supply and while I have a few choice words for them, I also know that it's not the norm, especially not with exclusive pumping. Most of the LCs I've spoken with agree that in order to get your supply to grow with your baby, you need a strong pump and this has been totally true for me. I average about an ounce more per pumping session with the rented hospital grade pump than I do with my smaller one.

What other items did you find essential for successful pumping?

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About Katie



Katie is a former teacher, part-time PT, wife, and first-time mother to the baby with the best ears on the Internet. You can find more of her grammatically questionable writing at her blog, Overflowing Brain. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie's latest posts →

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9 thoughts on “13 Essential Items for Exclusive Pumping

  1. Nanette says:

    I found my PumpEase hands-free pumping bra to be an essential for me. That way I could multitask with my laptop, etc.

  2. LaurenT says:

    Ahhh reading this reminds me of how much I HATED pumping, you really have it down to a science! Whenever you decide to stop pumping I recommend weaning very slowly ( maybe 2 months). I stopped very quickly, over about 1-2 weeks, and shortly after experienced horrible, wouldnt wish it on my worst enemy PPD, looking back i realized it was a result of weaning too quickly and having a drop in those happy bf hormones too quickly.

  3. Katy says:

    I pumped exclusively for one month and now at least once/day. I, too, detested pumping. It wasn’t until I got a hands free pumping bra that I minded it less. I didn’t know they existed for four months! If you are regularly pumping it is a must have for maintaining your sanity.

  4. Pumping-Friendly says:

    I find this list excessive in my opinion. Of course each thing says it isn’t NEEDED and I didn’t hate pumping at all. For me, it was the most wonderful feeling after cracked, bleeding, blistered HORRIBLE devistating 9 first days of being a mother. After a while that turned into just a routine but it wasn’t aweful, it was my compromise between formula and pain and misery. I was happy to pump.

    I got enough necessary out of a Medela Freestyle, I had zero nursing tops or covers, I like just keeping a burp cloth handy to catch drips when getting done and setting it over the pump parts so I wasn’t really “exposed” not like I sat around pumping in the park or anything. I stored milk in the drinkable bottles with covers/collars and just switched to nipple assemblies when needed. I always arranged them so oldest was in front and I just pumped/poured/filled bottles to the top line so I didn’t waste space. As long as the milk is within the 24 hour window and if you pump frequently and they eat the quantity in the bottle at the same rate it will always stay in that window. The wipes were helpful when traveling, as was the cooler bag so I didn’t have to have pumped milk sitting in a friend’s fridge just out in the open. I never put my parts in the dishwasher, I only had 1 set, I washed and set to dry in a bottle rack on the counter, I didn’t want to spend another $40 on parts. I had the soft flanges that barely made it through the whole time but when I bought replacements it was for my next kid. Seriously, if you get a ton of stuff to find your comfort level, besides pump acc. that aren’t returnable just keep the tags/receipts so you aren’t stuck with a bunch of stuff you don’t use.

  5. zchamu says:

    Pumped exclusively for a year. Had: Pump+gear, bottles, pumping bra. Pump wipes and the steam bags are way excessive.

  6. katie says:

    @Pumping-Friendly I’m thrilled you found pumping so great. I imagine our experiences diverge in that in those horrible days you breastfed, your baby managed to at least jumpstart your milk production. I too have a Medela Freestyle at home and I don’t get nearly enough out of it to feed my child. My supply is marginal at best, so for me to be successful, I need the hospital grade pump. And for the record, I’m not pumping out in the park either, but there are times where I’m out of the house all day and my boobs can only go about 8 hours max before things get incredibly uncomfortable. Pumping in the car if I’m not close to home is kind of not avoidable.

    @Zchamu I have a super hard time agreeing that items that cost 5 bucks a piece are “way excessive.” You may not have used them, but it’s not like they break the bank. In my situation, I have no other option but to use the wipes so I can pump more than once when out of the house. A really clean sink isn’t available and sorry, but I don’t clean anything that’s going to touch my baby’s milk in a public bathroom sink.

  7. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the article! I am breastfeeding and pumping, and didn’t know about some of these… Will have to check them out! I hear you on the hospital grade pump! I have a symphony rental and love it. :) also, I hear you on entertainment… We are watching Gilmore Girls, like your photo! I think we will make it through the whole series! I have a girl so it’s kind of fun to watch a mom-daughter show together. :)

  8. kimybeee says:

    I have to say that I am one of those that had no trouble at all breastfeeding both of my kids. 14 months on 1 and 12 months on 2. I could not pump – but I didn’t want anyone to try and take my babies anywhere without me anyway so I loved being the only food source. number 2 barely nursed and number 1 would probably still be attached and she is 18 now lol neither had any formula. we tried on number 2 cause his daddy was hospitalized for 3 days and I stayed with daddy but he wouldn’t take it. my mom just brought him to the hospital in the morning and evening and it was enough for him with all the other things he would eat.

    I am not saying this to brag about the ease that I had breastfeeding – I think everybody should at least try it for a couple of days before making up their mind. especially all these teen moms that dum…p their babies on the family so they can keep running around like savages lol I am saying that if I had the trouble you have had that I would have pitched the boob and went to formula. both my kids are and have always been very healthy and I am glad that I did it – but I am sure that I would not have went through what you have, especially this long – I would have caved and went with formula.

    as for your mil – I would let her have it on her opinions about raising eli. you live with a pediatrician, how much more expert do you need. you will have that mama lion rage building in you and one of these days you will catch her and rip her head off and drag her carcass back to your baby to play with lol lol lol lol.

  9. Monica says:

    Fantastic list! I don’t exclusively pump, but I do work out of the house so I do pump. I know how frustrating and annoying it can be when you pump. I have to pump twice as much to get the ounces for the bottles my daughter will drink while I’m at work. And before solids…having to make 12-16 oz while at work was draining and I’d still have to pump and extra time in the AM and PM. My daughter is now 10 months and it has gotten easier. I use a lot of Meldela products and I use a nursing cover while pumping at work since my pumping room isn’t totally private. I have tried to put my pumping parts in the fridge but the “horns” were freezing and I couldn’t take it! :) Good luck to you- don’t give up!!

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