It’s your first day back from maternity leave, which probably means you’re feeling pretty emotional. To add to that roller coaster of transitioning from maternity leave back to the workplace, you have a lot of new logistics to worry about, one of which might be how you’re going to pump at work.
From daycare drop-off to when you’re going to have to leave for your commute, you have a long list of things to organize. If you’re breastfeeding, you also have new breast pump equipment and pumping appointments to think about.
Since we’re all about sharing information that makes it easier to go back to work, we’ve put together the ultimate breast pump bag packing list for the mom who’s returning from maternity leave. Print this out and start crossing off these items -- and you’ll be saving yourself from having the panicked “uh-oh” moment when you’re at your desk and realize you packed everything but the ice pack / flanges / power cord.
Your Breast Pump Bag Must-Have Items
- Breast pump power supply. It sounds obvious, but don’t leave home with a breast pump only to find you’ve left the power cord or battery...at home! To make sure you don’t forget, just make a practice of storing the charger in the bag, just in case you run out of juice.
- All the breast pump parts: pump, flanges, valves, membranes, connecting tubes, breastshields (don’t you just love these terms?)...make sure you memorize what all the bits are and put them in. Some moms tell us they like to assemble the parts in part at home and keep them together in ziploc bags
- Ziploc bags. You never know when you’re going to need to keep things separated for some reason (e.g. dirty pump parts you didn’t have a chance to wash because you ran out of time at the end of the day).
- Small travel-sized bottle containing dishsoap or something to wash your breast pump parts
- Paper towels and/or tissues. This is for the inevitable leaks, spills and accidents that happen when you’re doing something like handling human breast milk.
- Food! Pumping at lunch often means skipping out on this important meal. If you’re breastfeeding, you need to replenish your own body with nutrition so pack snacks and anything to keep you going when your blood sugar is low and you’re pumping.
- Hands-free pump bra. We’re partial to anything that allows you to multitask so we love the idea of anything that allows you to talk on the phone, eat, or just simply not have to hold up your hands
- Extra milk storage bags and/or storage bottles
- Ice pack or insulated carrier
- Pen for when you need to write down how much milk you expressed if you’re keeping track of how much milk you’re producing (you are not using pre-marked packages to keep track)
- Photo of your baby. Pumping can be difficult and lonely. It’s awkward to do with the stress of the workplace around you, so lactation experts often suggest you bring photos of your baby to help you relax when you’re pumping.
- Breast pads. If you are prone to leaks and accidents, in particular, these pads can help prevent embarrassing stains from appearing at work
- Nipple cream. It depends on your situation, but if you have a painful time breastfeeding, especially if you have cracked, sore or bleeding nipples, then be sure to tuck in some cream in there to ease the pain.
When in doubt, refer to this list when packing your bag. It’ll give you more mental energy for battling sleep deprivation at the office and hopefully help you have a slightly easier time with all the logistical aspects of your transition back to work.
And if you’re unsure about your rights when it comes to pumping at work, we've got you covered with everything there is to know about pumping at work laws and protections.
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