Ah, the breast pump...a love-hate relationship if there ever was one.
For some moms, pumping offers a reprieve from nursing or a chance for a night or two away from baby. For others— NICU mamas, working moms, or mamas with infants who struggle at the breast—pumping can be a regular, and even exclusive, way of feeding your little one.
No matter what the reason, though, we can all agree that pumping takes some serious commitment. (We're looking at you, Serena Williams 🙌🏾) Which is why we've rounded up these tried and true pumping essentials that will make your feeding journey more comfortable, efficient, and a whole lot easier.
Here are the pumping essentials every mama needs to know about.
A powerful, efficient and portable breast pump is an absolute essential for any new breastfeeding mama. We love this pump for all of these reasons and more. The hospital-grade technology mimics a suckling motion rather than a sucking one, and features like rechargeable batteries for easy portability, timers, night lights, and completely adjustable suction settings put this pump ahead of the pack. It's also much quieter than other brands, which we love!
Freemies are the pumping mama's secret weapon for the ultimate in hands-free pumping. These discreet breast pumping cups work with almost any breast pump and slip right into any bra to easily collect your milk. You can even refrigerate the cups between pumps in a single day which means less time cleaning and more time milking. Genius!
Even a pumping mama needs a functional, stylish nursing bra. Enter the 24/7: seriously one of the most comfortable nursing bras we've ever tried. (And believe me, we've tried a lot .) This tagless, super soft beauty is gentle against your skin and features no-slip straps and memory foam, easy-open cups for accessible pumping. We love the front closure and that it's available in sizes B-F (DDD), including half sizes, so every mama will be able to find her perfect fit.
Read: 11 best nursing bras that are comfortable + stylish if you're looking for more options!
Force of Nature Starter Kit
Pumping is stressful enough. Cleaning your pump shouldn't be. One solution we've recently fallen in love with? Force of Nature. The revolutionary cleaning appliance uses electricity to convert salt, water and vinegar (from the capsule) to make a hypoallergenic multi-purpose cleaner that's just as effective as bleach without the toxic chemicals, dyes and allergens. Spray it on your parts to easily disinfect and rest assured no harmful residues will be left behind. The best part? You can use it on practically everything . Bottles, pacifiers, bath toys, counter tops, diaper pails, you name it.
You're going to need a place to store all that liquid gold, and these breast milk storage bags are the sturdiest around. Featuring reinforced sides and a double locking top seal, you won't waste a drop. There's even an adapter that allows you to pump directly into the bags using most standard sized pumps.
If you'd rather go a more eco-friendly route, the premium silicone bags from Haakaa are a reusable and simple solution. They're fridge and freezer safe and can be stored standing or laying down. And while they do require a bigger investment up front, they can ultimately save you hundreds of dollars in the end.
Price is for a pack of 10.
Speaking of Haakaa, moms across every Facebook group swear by this little miracle. For clogs that won't quit, just add a few scoops of epsom salts and water to this handheld silicone pump and bask in the relief that follows. (Learn more about the Haakaa hack here !)
If your let down is, well, letting you down, massage can make all the difference. This powerful handheld massager can help make your pumping sessions more comfortable and efficient while also reducing blockages. It's designed with three distinctly different sides and multiple vibration modes to customize each session to your needs. Ahhh. That's better.
A pumpin' mama needs to look good...while also being able to comfortably carry around all the things 🤣 Enter this gorgeous + functional bag made for pumping mamas by a pumping mama. Stylish on the outside and all business on the inside, this easy-to-clean bag features all the essentials including thermally-lined side pockets, comfy leather straps, and of course a dedicated compartment that fits most portable-sized breast pumps. It's a pumping essential if we ever saw one!
(And here's a budget-friendly dupe with tons of great reviews.)
We can't count the number of times we've had to pump in the car, at our desks, or even on a plane. If the idea of pumping in public doesn't get you super, well...pumped 🤣, you'll need something to keep covered up. We 💜 this multi-purpose cover for its stylish design and its many uses. It's great as a nursing or pumping cover, but also works as a car seat cover, infinity scarf, shopping cart cover, or high chair cover. And have we mentioned how unbelievably soft it is?
These bags are truly one of those pumping essentials that we just don't know how we ever lived without. No more bulky, heavy ice packs to worry about when you're schlepping around bottles of breast milk—these (ingenious) bags have freezable gel packed right into the walls. Just fold the bag, place it in the freezer overnight, and it's chilled and ready to use by morning. And when you're done breastfeeding + pumping, they're great to tote baby food, snacks, or anything else you may need to keep cool.
We can say with certainty that we would not have survived our pumping journey without this bra. It's easy to take on and off, holds its shape after dozens of washes, easily adjusts to fit your changing body, and, if you're using a traditional pump, keeps your breast shields firmly in place so you can free up your hands while you pump. We recommend unclipping the flaps of your nursing bra and zipping the hands-free bra directly over it when you're pumping to save time.
Read: 7 hands-free pumping bras to make those marathon sessions a little easier if you want to explore others!
The reality of being a busy mama means that you're often going to be pumping on the go, and you won't always have time to wash your pump parts between sessions. Make sure you always have a few of these quick clean wipes in your diaper bag—one wipe will clean your breast shields, valves and membranes. They're the perfect, easy portable cleaning solution, and they even clean high chairs, countertops and toys.
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This article was originally published in July 2018. It has been updated.