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13 Essential Items for Exclusive Pumping

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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  • Hospital grade pump 1 of 13
    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.
  • Extra set of pump parts 2 of 13
    Extra set of pump parts
    Unless you really love doing dishes, you need at least 2 sets of pump parts. This is especially essential if you're out of the house for the day and can't wash the parts between pumping sessions.
  • Storage bottles/bags 3 of 13
    Storage bottles/bags
    Since you're not supposed to store milk from 2 different days together, unless you're immediately feeding or freezing, you're going to need a decent set of storage bottles to keep everything separate. If you're lucky enough to have extra milk, you're going to want freezer bags too.
  • Feeding bottles 4 of 13
    Feeding bottles
    I personally don't care for the nipples that come with our storage bottle system, so we've tried out several bottles and have gone with the Playtex Nurser system. It's not environmentally friendly since it has drop ins, but I like that the drop ins are sterile so I have fewer worries at daycare. Plus, when I get home, all I have to wash are nipples instead of a million bottle parts.
  • Ziploc bags 5 of 13
    Ziploc bags
    This was a tip from another mom who exclusively pumps. She pumps, puts her pump parts in a large ziplock bag and then puts it in the refrigerator until the next pumping session. Since breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for 5 days, you can keep your parts in there for a while without washing. I'm down to washing mine only once or twice a day, instead of 8 times. It's heaven.
  • Cooler for bottles 6 of 13
    Cooler for bottles
    Unlike formula that you can mix at the last minute and not have to chill beforehand, breast milk needs to be kept at least room temperature if not cooler. You'll need a cooler bag/container for your bottles so that the milk stays good. You really don't want to waste your hard pumped milk.
  • Nursing cover 7 of 13
    Nursing cover
    There are likely going to be times where you need to pump outside of the house. I'm personally not a big fan of pumping in bathroom stalls because I don't even like to be in them when I have to pee, so my location of choice is my car. I try to park it away from people as best as I can, but I still need something to cover me up. I got a Bebe Au Lait nursing cover before Eli was born with the intention of using it, you know, as a nursing cover, but it has since been repurposed to a pumping cover and it works great.
    Image from BebeAuLait.com
  • Nursing bras 8 of 13
    Nursing bras
    Just like with nursing, you need reasonably easy access to your boobs and a nursing bra is the way to go. I've had a few brands I don't care for, but I really like these ones from Bravado. They're not inexpensive, but they fold down easily, the opening is wide enough for the pump flange and they're extremely comfortable. They also have an extra little insert like a bathing suit so that after pumping you won't put anyone's eye out with your nipples. Which is always a good thing.
    Image from Bravadodesigns.com
  • Dishwasher 9 of 13
    Dishwasher
    This isn't absolutely essential, but it saves me a ton of time each day. I have enough nipples that I can make it through 24 hours without doing dishes, so at the end of that 24 hours, I put everything in the dishwasher, and wash. Plus, the heated dry cycle sterilizes so I don't have to worry about that when I'm at home.
  • Sterilizing bags 10 of 13
    Sterilizing bags
    When I'm not home and don't have access to a dishwasher but want to sterilize, these Medela sterilizing bags are my next favorite option. You put your clean parts in with a little water, put them in a microwave for 3 minutes and voila, you've got sterilized parts. Each bag can be reused 20 times, so they're pretty reasonably priced and very useful.
    Image from medelabreastfeedingus.com
  • Pump wipes 11 of 13
    Pump wipes
    If you're out for the day and can't toss your parts in the fridge or wash them in the sink or dishwasher, these wipes (also from Medela, I swear this isn't a sponsored post, I'm just a Medela junkie) are the easiest way to clean your parts so you can reuse them before you get home. They require a bit of finger poking to get into all the crevices of the pump parts, but still very handy for multiple pumps on the go.
    Image from medelabreastfeedingus.com
  • Lanolin 12 of 13
    Lanolin
    I know you don't have the same likelihood of nipple damage with pumping as with nursing, but there can be rubbing and once you get a blister from pumping, you will never make the same mistake twice. A little lanolin once or twice a day helps keep things from drying out and from rubbing painfully during pumping sessions.
  • Entertainment 13 of 13
    Entertainment
    Pumping (at least for me) is not a quick adventure and when I'm home, or even when I'm in the car, I need a little distraction. So far, during middle of the night pumping/feeding sessions, Eli and I have watched the entire Sex and the City Series (he's a Charlotte fan), half of Bones, and some Olympics. It helps to have something other than the pump to focus on.

What other items did you find essential for successful pumping?

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