After receiving a huge response to my post on Exclusively Pumping, I thought it seemed appropriate to put a post into place about what things I have found as essentials for the tasks of being an EP mom. I know there are others out there and other mommies who don’t even know they’re going to be an EP mom and I wanted a place they could turn to for advice. Also, a lot of this advice will span the gaps for mom’s who alternate between pumping and nursing based on work and other things. I hope this helps those of you momma’s who ask the question, “what next?”
When I began nursing I realized there were A LOT of things I needed. There were A LOT of things I didn’t have. Oops. I knew from the very beginning that I would at least be pumping on occasion as I work full time and wanted to put this into practice before going back to work. For the first month of Emma’s life, I’m pretty sure I lived in the nursing section of Target. I literally went there every other day trying to find something I needed to ease my discomfort or help in making my experience an easier one. When I became an EP mom, there were other things that became a necessity. I’m going to take a moment to talk about the things I found the most helpful and useful; the things I believe to be essentials for the pumping mom:
*Storage bags- When you begin pumping, I pray that your supply abounds and that you have so much milk you don’t know what to do with! In my case, I had to supplement for a few months with formula until Emma started on solids. During this time, I was able to save up about 400 ounces of milk. That sounds like a lot until you think about how much a baby needs. At 5 ounces a feeding, at 25 ounces a day, this is gone in 16 days. We were very blessed to have this storage when we would go out of town or when we would lose a bottle due to it spilling, breaking, or some other crisis that brought me to tears. I’m not sure I can talk about it- it still may be too soon. Anyways, one of the things that is vital is finding the bag that works for you. There are tons of options for storage bags but they are all different. I would recommend looking for ones with a small mouth so after you thaw it, it will pour easily into a bottle. If you have a wide mouth bottle, this makes it even easier. I love born free bottles. LOVE THEM. I had a few bags that were huge at the top and the milk would seriously go everywhere when I poured it out. Talk about a meltdown. I didn’t want to spend all my days cleaning up milk and crying so I found a bag that worked for us. This brand of bags is my absolute favorite so far. I stored about 350 ounces in these bags and never had one leak. Not once. Woohoo! I am no longer storing milk but have extras of these bags if anyone wants to give them a shot before investing in a particular brand. And as a side note to the part above about having an abundant supply of milk: if you do have more milk than you need stored up and for your baby, you can donate your milk. I know this sounds odd but there are a lot of babies out there who need breast milk and their mothers cannot provide it, so this is a huge blessing to those in need. Here is where you can find out more information.
*Cleaning wipes- These are a life saver when on the road or at work. They do a great job of wiping down your pump when you’re done with it and that way you don’t need to be right beside a sink full of soapy water. Now keep in mind that this is only for moments when you can’t get somewhere to wash your supplies. Be sure to wash them when you get home and not get in the habit of using these all the time. They are pricey and would end up costing you a fortune. And believe me, it’s definitely important to pick the right brand. I love this brand and have tried others. It does a good job and has a nice, clean smell. I tried one brand that was nasty. It stunk and the wipes were the size of a small sticky note pad. Seriously? You expect me to clean two pumps with that stinky thing? Thanks but no thanks. Gag.
*Comfort Items- Just like a mom who is nursing, you get sore pumping. In the beginning, especially if you’ve never nursed/pumped before, you’re going to need a few things for that soreness. I used a lot of lanolin at the beginning but learned that I’m allergic to wool. They have a brand at Babies R Us that is lanolin-free and works just as well. I would definitely check it out if you have this allergy. The great thing, too, is some brands don’t have to be washed off which makes nursing, especially out of the house, a lot easier. Who wants more work? Not me. I also invested in some cool/hot packs from Universal Companies that I adore. They have a lot at the store but these were my absolute favorite. They would stay hot and cool for longer periods of time. When you’re new and just at it, there is nothing like a cool pack in between feedings/pumping. When you’ve got a nasty case of mastitis or clogged ducts, the heat off of these feel amazing. After a long road trip, I developed a case of clogged ducts and was pretty sure I was dying. Labor pains were nothing compared to this. I thought surely I would die if I didn’t do something to ease my pain. I put these puppies in the microwave, wrapped them in a towel, and laid back. Amazing! It helps loosen up the clogged milk as well as relieve the pain. Thank goodness for cool/hot packs!
*Breast pads- When I first got going, I invested in several different breast pads to wear. When you’re brand new, you leak. All the time. And everywhere. I pulled out my reusable pads in an attempt to better the earth as well as my wallet. I soon learned that as a new momma, this just didn’t cut it. All the moisture was just too much for me. My friend Megahn recommended me try this brand of disposable pads and boy did I love them! I used these for the first few months until I toughed up and then went back to my reusable pads. I also found Lily Padz and really like them for outfits that are more form fitting. There’s nothing like your pads shining through your top. Talk about embarrassing. Be sure to get these at Target, they are a lot more expensive on places like Amazon. Just keep in mind that you do not wash your Lily Padz with soap and water. There’s a reason why they stay on and that’s because they’re sticky. Water takes that right off and makes you leak something awful. That’s what happened to
me people I know.
*A good pump- I can’t stress enough how important a good pump is. If you want to get the supply you need the best way you can, it’s worth the money to spend. I love my pump. It was my best friend for those first few months of exclusively pumping. I also like the fact that it came with an adapter to take on the go. We have an adapter JR had for the car so we can use the car outlet but when we’re somewhere without power I can still pump thanks to the adapter that came with the pump. Just stick in some AA batteries and you’re good to go! If you use this feature a lot, it could really drain your funds but I only use it on an as needed basis and it costs us next to nothing. It lasts about 2-3 days worth of regular pumping before the batteries start to slow it down.
*Hands free!- This changed my life. Seriously. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to get things done when my hands were busy holding bottles for 15-20 minutes at a time. They have several options for this and I recommend checking out what works best for you. The ability to multi-task comes naturally as a woman so I’m sure a woman invented this. There’s no way she didn’t. Unless it was a husband to a pumping mom who needed some extra hands. It’s a blessing to able to pump and work or pump and feed Emma at the same time. For the smaller pumps, you can also carry the pump around with you and wash dishes, fold clothes, or pull weeds. I wouldn’t pull weeds though. No one needs to see your girls except your baby and your hubby. Seriously.
*Cover- Just like nursing, pumping definitely takes away the opportunity to be modest. When you need to pump there’s no way to keep your shirt here and your bra there- everything is exposed. You can fix this with a cover like you would use for nursing. I use the brand Udder Covers. Ha- I love the name. It just cracks me up every time I think about it! I got mine from their site and if you sign up for emails like I did, you will usually get a code for a free cover or even a free sling from their sister site. All you have to pay is shipping. What a deal! Covers are pricey so this is the way to go. Something else I received, as a gift from my thoughtful friend Darlene, was this clip. I keep it in my pump bag in case I ever forget or don’t have my cover. It attaches to anything- blankets, shirts, etc, to make a cover. How awesome! I’m telling you- someone out there is making a lot of money off me, or Darlene, with these awesome ideas!
Here is my list of necessities- what are your necessities as a mom who pumps?