Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baby 101: Pumping Essentials

Whether you're returning to work after your maternity leave, or you just want to be able to leave baby with a family member or babysitter occasionally, there's a good chance you'll need to pump at some point if you're breastfeeding your little one.  Some moms prefer to exclusively pump.  I had to pump and bottle feed in the hospital due to latch issues, and then even after establishing successful breastfeeding, I continued to pump once a day to build my freezer stash and give my husband a chance to feed the baby (which also ensured that he would take a bottle when he started daycare).  Here are the items I consider essential for any pumping mom:

1.  Double electric breast pump

Obviously, you'll need a pump!  Check with your health insurance; except for a few grandfathered plans, most health insurance plans are required to provide a breast pump free of charge for each pregnancy.  Call your insurance company to find out the specifics of your plan; mine gave me 3 durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers that I could order from.  (The DME handled contacting my OB/GYN to get a prescription).  I think it's best to get a double electric breast pump if at all possible; based on recommendations from friends, I got the Medela Pump in Style Advanced.  This is the same as the version you can buy in baby stores, except it doesn't come with the tote bag.  So far I have no complaints - it's a great pump!

2.  Hands-free pumping bra

Once I realized how much time pumping takes (especially once I return to work and have to pump multiple times a day), a hands-free pumping bra is nice to have so that you can work, type or (let's be honest) browse Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram on your iPhone.  The lactation consultant at my hospital recommended the Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra; supposedly it is better at supporting the weight of full bottles than the Medela or other brands of pumping bras.  It comes with optional shoulder straps (I don't use them), and it zips up the front for easy on/off (without having to pull over your head).  It also has adjustable velcro in the back so that you can adjust the size to customize the fit.

3.  Extra set of breast pump parts

Washing breast pump parts is a pain, so it's nice to have an extra set of parts on hand in case you don't have a chance to wash them before you need to pump again.  I prefer for my pump parts to fully air dry - it's hard to get them completely dry when drying them with a towel, and then water gets sucked up into the tubing.

4.  Pump-compatible bottles

My insurance company provided 8 Medela bottles with my pump, but that's the bare minimum I need when I return to work (4 for pumping during the day and 4 for sending to daycare).  I wanted to have another set so that I wouldn't be in a bind if I get busy and don't have time to wash all the bottles one night.  The Gerber First Essentials bottles are the cheapest bottles on the market (as in less than $1 per bottle - way less expensive than buying extra Medela bottles) and they're compatible with Medela breast pumps, so I bought those.

5.  Tupperware container for pump parts

Both the lactation consultant at the hospital and all my breastfeeding friends recommended storing the pump parts in the refrigerator during the workday and only washing them once a day (at night).  This shaves several minutes off of each pumping session since I won't have to wash and dry the parts each time.  If you think about it, if breastmilk can be safely stored in the fridge for several days, there's no reason why the residual milk on the breast pump parts would go bad throughout the course of one day.  I use a Tupperware-style container to store my pump parts in the fridge; some people use gallon-size Ziploc bags, but I like that I can just wash my container and not have to constantly buy more Ziploc bags.

6.  Bottle cooler and ice pack

If you pump away from home (like at work), you'll need a cooler and ice pack to keep the milk cold while transporting it home.  

7.  Small funnel

I use a small plastic funnel to pour pumped milk into breastmilk storage bags for the freezer; if I try to pour directly from the bottle into the storage bag,  Somehow I always get milk in the zipper closure on the storage bags which makes it hard to close completely and more likely to leak.  Using a funnel keeps the zipper milk-free and ensures a tight seal.

8.  Breastmilk freezer storage bags

Breastmilk is only good in the refrigerator for a few days, so if you're pumping with any regularity, you'll want to freeze it for future use.  I like the Lansinoh brand bags because they freeze completely flat; I've also heard the Target Up and Up brand are good (I bought some but haven't used them yet).  I hated the Medela freezer bags because they don't freeze flat and take up way too much room in the freezer.  Freezer space is at a premium when you're pumping!!

9.  Microwave sterilization bags

I don't sterilize my pump parts everyday (although some people do), but you'll periodically want to go beyond washing your pump parts with soap and hot water.  These Medela microwave sterilizer bags make it quick and easy to sterilize your parts; each bag can be used up to 20 times, so a box of 5 bags will last you quite a while (depending how often you choose to sterilize).

10.  Breast pump cleaning wipes

If you have to pump away from home and don't have access to a refrigerator to store your pump parts in a Tupperware container (as mentioned above), or if there's no sink for you to wash your pump parts, it's nice to have a pack of these Medela cleaning wipes handy to give your parts a wipe-down in between uses.  I don't use these routinely (there is both a refrigerator and a sink in the pumping room at my office, and it would get expensive to use them everyday), but I keep some on hand in case I have to pump somewhere unusual.

1 comment:

  1. I only have half of these items, so I'm so glad you posted this. I just got a Babies R' Us gift card yesterday, so I'll stop by there this weekend to get the rest of the things I need from your amazing list. I'll also be using a 20% off coupon from the Coupon Sherpa app you recommended. What would I do without you?


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