As a new mom, one of the biggest mistakes I ever made when it comes to breastfeeding was thinking it was going to be super easy. Along the way, I learned a lot about what it’s really like. Here I’m sharing share 8 breastfeeding essentials that can help make those pumping sessions a little easier.
How To Make Pumping Sessions Easier
When you’re pumping to feed your baby or in my case, to build your breast milk supply back up, the pumping sessions are very frequent. Essentially, you are pumping around the clock, like you have a newborn if you’re trying to bring back your milk supply.
Staying on an exclusive pumping or relactation pumping schedule can be challenging in more ways than one. Besides the frequency of the sessions, you won’t look forward to the sessions if they are uncomfortable or you just downright forget them.
TIP: Didn’t get enough information about breastfeeding in the beginning or you just need to know more about the essentials? Consider taking a simple, go at your own pace online breastfeeding class or step by step pumping class to learn everything you need to know and empower yourself to reach your relactation goals!
Here are the essentials any pumping mama could use to make those sessions less of a challenge.
1. Nursing Bra
Anyone who has pumped breastmilk, exclusively or even causally will tell you that a nursing bra is truly necessary for pumping hands free. Without a pumping bra, you would have to hold the pump bottles and flanges to your breast the ENTIRE time. Thats just impractical for most people.
I used this Medela Easy Expression Hands Free Pumping Bra because it was readily available at my local Walmart. However, I also used some old sports bras that I had also and cut a hole in them for the flanges. That was effective and cheap as well!
Related: Uncomfortable Bras and Breastfeeding? Here’s How To Fix It
2. Nipple Cream
When your nipples get sore and cracked from pumping, nipple cream can be a quick fix for discomfort. You don’t have to wait until you get to the sore nipple stage, you can use this before your pumping sessions and immediately after for your nipple relief. My favorite nipple cream is Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream and there’s a reason this breastfeeding staple has 4.5 stars out over 4600 reviews.
3. Nipple Ruler
Flange sizing is everything when it comes to pumping. You will want your flange size to be correct because it has a huge impact on fit, comfort and the effectiveness of your breast pump. The incorrect flange size can cause pain and decrease the amount of milk you can pump.
You can speak to a lactation consultant about fitting your flanges. Pumpables also offers a free nipple ruler and tips for sizing so you can measure yourself at home if you prefer.
4. Milk Storage Bags or Pitcher
The milk you pump will need to go somewhere. You don’t want to leave it out all day and a lot of pumping moms will put their milk into storage bags for later use. You can also try the pitcher method if you want to combine milk from multiple pumping sessions.
To do the pitcher method, you just use a pitcher or large, clean container to collect all your milk. You can use this milk for the next day’s feedings. Any extra milk can be put into your freezer.
Although this Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher is for mixing formula, I loved using it for storing milk in general for my baby. If you supplement with formula you could use it for its intended use as well.
5. App or Calendar
There are many breast feeding apps out there, but the best one for moms who pump is called Pump Log. If you are having a lot of pumping sessions, this app will be able to track all your stats. I love the reminder feature! Its easy to lose track of the hours in the day when youre busy but Pump Log will always remind you of your next sesion.
Relactation pumping can be a lot of work daily and it can take time to see results. If you look at the big picture, instead of counting each and every pump, it can be motivating to see the progression. Use my free relactation calendar and progress tracker to see how far you’ve come!
6. Ziploc bags for storing pump parts
Amanda from Exclusive Pumping has an excellent article on how to clean breast pump parts between use that also follows CDC guidelines for cleaning pump parts. Prior to the CDC recommendation that pumps parts be cleaned after each use, many moms and even lactation consultants recommended storing your pump parts in the fridge between each pump in a ziploc bag.
Even if you have multiple parts, and you’re working or out of the home, you can use Ziploc bags to store them until you get home to wash them.
Related: The Best Pumps To Get Your Milk Supply Back
7. Car adapter
I found out about this brilliant hack in one of my breastfeeding support groups on Facebook! Pumping mamas who wanted to take their pumps on the go were using car adapters to pump with their normal pump!
Spectra makes a 12 volt vehicle adapter and you can also find other alternative breast pump car adapters for other models.
While it’s not a completely portable option, it is a simple and inexpensive fix and you could pump on a commute to work or while taking older kids to school. If your schedule has you in your car for long periods of time you don’t have to miss a pumping session!
8. Freemie Cups
In this post about the best breast pumps for relactation, I talk about the freedom that Freemie Collection Cups give you to pump anywhere with your clothes on. I am all for you breastfeeding and pumping any where you need to. However, if you prefer to be able to pump without your shirt being raised up, you’ll need these.
You can have the cups and tubing under your shirt and your baby is less likely to grab at the tubing while you’re pumping. I used this system when I had to pump while my older, active baby was at home.
Freemie Collection Cups paired with the Baby Budda Pump are a very effective and less expensive alternative to pricey hands free pumps like Willow and Elvie.
9. Pumpin Pals
These are angled silicone flanges that go inside your pump’s current breast shield. They are supposed to help you relax during pumping, help milk flow better and reduce irritation to your nipple. The biggest advantage may be it can reduce the need to lean forward and you can pump comfortably while sitting in a natural position. There are a lot of positive reviews about Pumpin Pals and many moms say that they make pumping more comfortable.
Breastfeeding may be natural, but there is a learning curve to it. Making the process easier, whatever route you take from exclusive pumping to relactation, means that there’s a better chance you stick with it! There are so many accessories or extras you could possibly buy, but you’ll really want to find out what works for you. This breastfeeding essentials list should make it easier for you to make some decisions.
Check out my post on how to save money on exclusive pumping for more tips!