I never imagined being a working mother would be easy. However, I also never imagined how much of a challenge it would be to maintain a milk supply by exclusively pumping while traveling, shooting weddings and being home alone with a baby. So whenever I hear about nursing mothers working or any mothers exclusively pumping, I am compelled to bow my head and give them a very slow clap. Hats off girls. Pumping, especially several times a day, is not easy. Physically or emotionally. Add the stress of being mom and/or having a career to that and it can seem insurmountable. I get it. But as we all know, the sacrifices we make for our families are always worth it.
Being a wedding photographer who travels, I have found myself precariously pumping on several occasions. Airplane bathrooms, parking garages, parking lots, in front of male family members, with the paparazzi a stone’s throw away and plenty of times while driving. I don’t have a lot of dignity left but Mae was allergic to every formula we tried so breast milk was our only option.
Through the craziness, I have managed to find a few things that have helped make life quite a bit easier so I wanted to share in case it helps another mamma
Ten Pumping Essentials for Moms on the Go
1. Medela Pump in Style Advanced and Manual Breast Pump – So if you don’t already have a pump, I would suggest investing in both of these. The double electric because it gets the job done as efficiently and effectively as possible (and comes with that handy cooler) and the manual pump because there are just times when you are on the move and can’t fuss with lugging and hooking yourself up to the entire electric pump station. Like if you’re sitting next to your father-in-law on a plane.
2. Hands Free Breastpump Bra – I seriously cannot fathom pumping without one of these. I have two of them and when they are both in the laundry I use a sports bra with holes cut in it but it’s definitely not as comfortable or discreet.
3. Quick Clean Breastpump Wipes – These are a must-have for pumping in your car, or really anywhere that doesn’t provide you access to soap, water and a drying rack. I keep them in my pump bag at all times. Just pump, wipe and your ready for the next pump. I know moms that keep them by their bed for in between those late night pumping sessions.
4. Freemie Cups for Medela pumps – GENIUS. These babies are amazing for pumping in the car or anywhere else you may lack privacy. They slip right into your normal bra so not only are free to wear whatever you want, they go pretty much unnoticed by innocent bystanders. They will make you look quite a bit more busty but there’s no harm in that.
5. Pumpin’ Pals – I use these exclusively when I am not using the freemies. I never sit straight up so the standard pump flanges always leaked for me. These are angled so they allow you to recline a bit and sit like a normal human when pumping. They also come in three sizes so if you are a bit more or less endowed than the average mamma they are a better fit than what comes with the pump.
6. Breast Pump Parts Kit – You will want to get at least one of these. First, because it will save you needing to wash your parts after every single pump and second because the parts all eventually wear out or get lost.
7. Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream – whether it’s your pump or your baby is gnawing at your nips all day, this little potion helps sooth soreness. I keep one in my pump bag, diaper bag and by my bed.
8. Car Power Adaptor with USB – if your pumping in your car, you will need one of these to power the pump (and charge your phone) but word to the wise, don’t leave it plugged in when you’re done pumping because you’ll find yourself with a dead car battery at the end of the day. Happened to a friend…
9. Nursing Cover Just in case you don’t want everyone around watching you pump uncensored.
10. Breastmilk Storage BagsFinally, you’ll want something to store the milk in, these are what I use and I haven’t had any complaints. They fit great in the Medela cooler (see item one) and freeze great too.
So beyond that, I’d suggest always having a tall drink of water close by and trying your best to just relax and be grateful that your body is producing nutrition for your baby even if it takes some extra work on your part.
Anyone else have some pumping goodies or tips that have helped? I’d love to hear them!