Whether you look at pumping as a golden opportunity to keep your kid guzzling breast milk while you’re at the office or as a necessary evil (*raises hand*), we can all agree that pumping at work is really challenging. Between carving out the time, navigating dwindling supply, and making sure you have the gazillion parts you need on hand, pumping at work can feel like it’s a job in itself.
That’s why we went in search of the most life-changing pumping hacks, from the people who know best: pumping moms. We tapped moms who have been in your shoes (or should we say flanges?) to find the best time-saving, headache-reducing tips for pumping at work—including one mom who has pumped for 24 months (and counting!) and another who once successfully transported 600 ounces of frozen milk internationally. Keep reading for their best advice.
1. Think of baby. “My let-down came more quickly and fruitfully when I hooked myself up to the pump first, then put one of my baby’s recently used swaddle blankets up to my nose to sniff while pumping. I’d close my eyes and think of them, and then the magic would happen.” — Kim B., New Jersey
2. Stock up on nursing bras. “When I travel or have outside meetings, I wear a pumping or nursing bra all day and have a large scarf or nursing cover in case I need to pump in a car. I carry a soft-sided lunch cooler bag with cooler shocks, a Medela Freestyle, Pumpin’ Pals, and Kiinde Bags, with everything pre-assembled for as little touching as possible. I also keep hand sanitizer and Medela Quick Wipes just in case, as well as Post-It notes to put on the sensor of self-flushing toilets if I have to pump in a bathroom stall.” — Ann Marie W., Tanzania
3. Cut down on cleaning time. “I’m a big fan of storing your supplies in the fridge between pumps to cut down on washing/sterilization time.” — Robyn R., New York
4. Go for a cloth diaper bag. “I use a fabric cloth diaper bag to keep my pump parts in the fridge between pumps. It’s subtle and not as wasteful as a plastic baggy. I love being able to toss it in the washing machine, too.” — Meg K., Georgia
5. Buy a mini-fridge. “If you exclusively pump, the Coke Can Fridge is a compact, inexpensive way to store milk. It holds four Medela bottles and two flanges. I used it in my classroom and in our bedroom for nighttime pumps.” — Lisa M., Ohio
6. Double up. “Have spares of everything at the office, including a bra, power cord, and extra pump if you can swing it—even if it’s just a manual one. But especially make sure you have bottles and lids (or storage bags). Nothing will ruin your day like having a decent pump and then realizing you have no way to transport it home.” — Kate R., California
7. Buy used. “I bought a used pump on Facebook Marketplace. Keep one at work and and one at home so you’re not toting your pump back and forth. I paid $50, and it was totally worth it.” — Rachel J., Illinois
8. Don’t forget the car charger. “I always recommend that friends get the car charger attachment for their pump. It came in handy on many a road trip—and lunch break—for me.” — Anna K., North Carolina
Storing Breast Milk