The Ultimate Guide to Pumping on the Go
Do you have a baby and also work outside of the home? If so, then you may be wondering how to pump breast milk at work. This blog post will discuss strategies for pumping at work, as well as using a pumping on the go for fun outings.
I’ll share some super helpful tips for using your breast pump while away from your baby, as well as provide links to products that can make your life easier while pumping.
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.
Prepare Your Environment for Pumping at Work
Get a RELIABLE Breast Pump
I cannot stress this enough, and I’m going to spend a minute talking about it.
If you are going to be away from your baby you need to have a breast pump that is really good at helping you expel milk, and feels comfortable during a pumping session.
The last thing you need is for your pump to not get the milk you need to feed your baby.
And it will be incredibly frustrating when you switch to a different pump and express a LOT more milk than before. (I speak from experience!) So, if your pump doesn’t feel right, seek out the help of a lactation consultant.
The breast pump I have loved the most has been the Spectra S1.
You will LOVE this pump because it is lightweight, portable, and can be battery operated!! (This is a game-changer!) The charge on this breast pump would last almost an entire week for me when I was pumping (4-5) 20-minute sessions at work 5 days a week.
It comes with a nightlight feature that has a low and high setting, great for pumping at night.
The pump operates on a closed system which means your risk for developing mold inside the pump or tubing is GREATLY reduced.
There is a cycle setting that allows you to choose how quickly the pump pulls and a vacuum setting that allows you to control the suction strength which allows you to have ultimate control of your pumping experience.
The best part is the company is owned by registered nurses, lactation consultants, and most importantly, moms who have done this too!
It is an amazing pump and I cannot say enough good things about it. Seriously… check out the Spectra S1!
If you’re looking for a manual breast pump, I would highly recommend the Haakaa breast pump. Although I have personally never used it myself, I have so many mom friends who rave about it!
Bring a Baby Blanket
Bring along something to stimulate your senses. What do I mean by that? When you’re with your baby, you pick up on your baby’s scent, you’re looking at them, and you can hear them. All of these things help to stimulate your milk letdown. This is super important to have a successful pumping session.
So, if you’re going to be pumping on the go, bring along one of your baby’s blankets to pick up on their smell, maybe a video of them on your cell phone, or even a picture of your sweet little one.
Bring Wet Bag to Store Your Pump Parts
You’ll want to make sure you have a wet bag to store your pump parts. Contrary to what the name says, a wet bag actually keeps all the wetness inside the bag. So, after cleaning your pump parts, you can place them in the wet bag until your next pumping session, so everything else in your pumping bag doesn’t get wet.
This Bumkins water-proof wet bag is a great choice to store your pump parts. There are several cute designs to choose from! If you have a microwave, you can sanitize your pump parts in these Medela quick clean bags.
A Breast Pump Bag
Now that you know what to bring with you for pumping on the go, you’ll want to make sure you’ve picked the right breast pump bag that meets your needs. There are a lot of great bags to choose from and I have chosen the best breast pump bags available to give you complete reviews. Check them out!
An Extra Set of Pump Parts
I have countless friends who have forgotten to pack all of the needed ump parts in the breast pump travel bags. This is a big problem when you get to work and you can’t pump. Make sure you always keep an extra set of breast pump parts in your pumping bag.
How to Use a Breast Pump at Work
Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I was a teacher. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry quite a bit leading up to the day I had to go back to work. It wasn’t that I was fearful of anyone else caring for my baby, I just didn’t want to go back.
But, it wasn’t an option at that time for me to stay home. Thinking about sitting in my classroom pumping milk for my baby seemed incredibly bizarre and intrusive.
What if someone walked in? What if I forget to lock my door? Did I mention I worked in a MIDDLE SCHOOL with hormone-ridden teenage boys!
And then came the fear of what if I can’t pump enough? Or, how will I find the time?
Here are a few tips for you based on my own pumping experience.
Have a Plan for Pumping at Work
I discovered that some of my fears with pumping on the go, such as pumping at work, were alleviated by simply having a plan.
I would get to work about an hour before school started to get work done. About 20 minutes before students would arrive, I would pump (session #1). Then, I had a class period where students watched the daily news and I was blessed to have a great friend who was on her plan time who would come sit with my students while I went to her room to pump (session #2).
Next, I would pump during my lunchtime (session #3). I would spend the beginning of my plan time pumping (session #4). And, if I had a meeting after school, I would pump right at dismissal and then head to my meeting (session #5).
Here’s the thing.
This may sound like a lot, but if you were at home with your baby, it’s likely that you would be nursing at each of those time intervals. Really, if you pay attention to how often you’re nursing, my pumping schedule was the equivalent of about every 2-3 hours.
Pumping at work is totally doable if you’re determined to make pumping work.
It’s Your Legal Right
The biggest thing here is that it is your right to pump breast milk for your baby while at work.
Again, I am not saying it is easy, but your employer is required by the Affordable Care Act to allow you to pump milk for your baby while at work. You may need to adjust your schedule a bit to make it happen.
But, if this is truly your desire, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.
Crazy Things May Happen
One time I was sitting at my desk pumping, which was where I always pumped, and I heard a knock at my door. Per my usual response, I said nothing and just made it seem as though I wasn’t in there. Then I heard the rattle of keys on the lock of my door.
My principal was bringing a new student to my room to meet me. Needless to say, I yelled that I would be out in a moment, and thankfully he didn’t open the door. But wow, what an awkward first impression that would’ve been for a new student.
How to Use a Breast Pump While Traveling
As evidenced above in my story, pumping on the go can create some rather entertaining and laughable experiences.
Truthfully, you have to be willing to go with the flow and let it be what it will be. If you want to have a bit of freedom or have to figure it out in the case of working outside of your home, then you have to be flexible.
Here are some tips about how to pump while traveling.
Traveling for Work
So, how do you manage to pump breast milk while traveling?
Well, the same idea is true here in the sense that you just need to have a plan. You may find yourself traveling for work, in which case you’ll need to talk with your employer about making the appropriate accommodations for you and your pumping times.
Make sure they’re aware that you request to be as close as possible to an accessible pumping space. It’s also important to make sure that the hotel you’ll be staying at has a refrigerator you can store your pumped milk in.
What if you’re traveling in a car on vacation? How do you manage to pump in the car?
Or what if you’re headed to the beach (my favorite vacay spot!) on an airplane? Is there a way to pump there?
My answer… ABSOLUTELY!
Traveling by Car
Our first baby was a little under a year old when drove a 16-hour trek across the country for a wedding.
We didn’t want to have to stop EVERY single time I would need to nurse, so I figured out how to use a breast pump in the car.
I rode in the back seat with the baby, so I felt like I had a bit more privacy from passersby than if I were in the front seat.
We had a blanket in the back seat, and I would use that as a cover when pumping. I could’ve used my nursing cover, but when I attempted that this first time, I felt like I was showing everything everywhere and that made me uncomfortable. Though I will say that I love this cover for breastfeeding.
Needless to say, you don’t get a good let down if you’re uncomfortable.
Thankfully, I was using the Spectra S1 breast pump which has a battery so I could place the breast pump anywhere that was convenient.
This was AMAZING because I didn’t have to be hooked up to any power source which was one less cord to manage. Here is a tip if you’re not using a battery-operated pump. Many breast pumps do offer cords that you can purchase for use in the cigarette lighter of a car, so make sure you look into that option before buying a new breast pump.
It worked really great for us because pumping in the car allowed us to stop less and shorten the length of our trip.
Traveling by Plane
I haven’t personally traveled by plane and pumped.
But, I know people do it, especially on long flights.
You really have two choices.
The first is to pump in your seat with a nursing cover. I don’t know that this is something I would feel comfortable doing, especially if your pump is noisy.
The second option you have is to use your breast pump in the restroom. I would suggest that you let the flight attendant know what you’re doing so they won’t wonder what happened to you in there because you’ll likely be in there for about 20 minutes. But again, pumping on the go, even on a plane, can be done!
Traveling with Expressed Breast Milk
If you are traveling and you are concerned about getting your milk back home, there is a great company called Milk Stork that will transport your breastmilk for you, making sure it gets to your baby and is still consumable.
Pumping While Out
Another reason you may find yourself pumping on the go is to enjoy some time away from your baby with your husband or your friends.
You shouldn’t feel like you can’t do these things! Even as a stay-at-home mom, I began pumping when our baby was 3 weeks old and I started to build a stash.
It was important for me to feel like I had the flexibility to go out and let someone else take care of the baby. If you’ve ever had a baby diagnosed with colic, you will NEED to get out of your house without the baby.
So, where all have I found myself pumping while out?
Parking garages, restrooms (quite a few of them), friends’ houses, cars, etc.
I think the one I found the most interesting was a major league baseball game. I went to the restroom and hung the strap of the bag on the hook on the back of the door, sat on the toilet, hooked myself up to the pump, and there I sat.
Honestly, it didn’t bother me a bit.
I’ve both pumped and nursed while sitting on a toilet because there was nowhere else to do it. No big deal.
As far as breast milk storage goes, you always need to make sure you take some sort of cooler bag with ice, an ice pack, and either storage bottles or bags to store your milk. The next section discusses milk storage!
How to Store Breastmilk After Pumping
I have written an entire post on how to store breast milk because it is SUPER important that you know how to safely store breast milk. But, here is a brief rundown.
Once you have pumped your milk, you’ll either want to store it in breastmilk storage bags or a bottle. I LOVE these Lansinoh brand bags because they are designed specifically for breastmilk. I have never had any issues with them leaking and they are easy to label and store. Or, you can store the breastmilk in baby bottles you probably already have.
*One note about storing in baby bottles. Unless the bottle is specifically designed for the freezer, don’t store breastmilk in bottles in the freezer.
You’ll also want to have a small, insulated cooler, along with some ice packs. As long as the ice packs stay cold, then you can store it in the bag for 24 hours. Once you get back home, put it in the refrigerator and it can be stored for 4-5 days. If you don’t plan to use it in that time frame, then lay it flat in your freezer. Breastmilk can remain in your freezer for up to 12 months.
Feeding your baby, by either breastfeeding or pumping breast milk, is about as natural as giving birth. Your body was designed to do it. I know that it doesn’t always work for everyone, and that’s OK too.
You can do this!
You should feel like you have the freedom to be your own person. Get out of the house without the baby and do not feel guilty. Oftentimes, you will come back refreshed and renewed.
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