Returning to work after having a baby can be challenging. You may be anxious about how you and your baby will handle the separation, and you may have questions about how you can best prepare for this transition. How can you keep up your milk supply? How should you store your breast milk? What supplies should you keep at work? Do you need extra supplies? To help you feel more prepared, we’ve put together an extensive list of items you might want in your pumping station at work, as well as this handy, printable checklist:
Click here to download this printable checklist:
1. Double-electric breast pump
Double-electric pumps allow you to express milk from both breasts at the same time, saving you time during the workday. Research shows that simultaneous pumping also removes more total milk volume than sequential pumping.
2. Hand pump
It’s a great idea to keep a non-electric pump in your pumping station in case of emergency (left pump at home, power outage, cord failure, etc.). A hand pump is quiet, easy to store, simple to use, and great at removing milk.
3. Extra pump parts
If you’ll be pumping at work often, keep spare pump supplies on hand. Extra tubing, membranes, bottles to pump in, and flanges will help you be able to replace worn-out parts. Having multiple sets on hand also helps if you’re not able to wash your supplies right after pumping.
Pumping/Breast Milk Storage Supplies
4. Pumping bag or tote
If you take your pumping supplies home every night, a pumping bag will help to keep all of your supplies and milk in one place. You could even carry your double-electric pump home if necessary. There’s no need to get a bag only made for pumping; any bag will do (this is one of my favorites).
A rolling cart can make a great work pumping station. You can organize and store all your pump parts and the supplies on this list, easily move it around your workspace, or roll it to a pumping room if available.
6. Containers for pumped milk
After pumping, you’ll need storage containers for your milk. You may prefer to keep your milk in the plastic bottles you pumped in until you return home, or you may want to go ahead and immediately store it in glass jars or breast milk storage bags.
7. Permanent marker
After pumping, use a permanent marker to write your name, date, time, and amount of milk pumped on your storage container(s)/label(s). Doing it right after you pump will ensure you don’t forget about labeling later, which will help prevent wasting any of your precious liquid gold.
8. Place to store fresh breast milk
No mom wants her hard-earned milk to go to waste. A mini fridge, break room fridge, or cooler bag with ice packs in it will keep your milk cold and fresh until you’re able to take it home. Freshly pumped milk can be left at room temperature for five hours, in a cooler with ice packs for 24 hours, or in the refrigerator for five days. Learn more about how to properly store breast milk.
9. Large storage bag for pump parts
If you’re unable to wash your pump parts at work, a storage bag (a reusable wet bag, Ziploc, or even mesh laundry bag) will come in handy for transporting all of your dirty pump parts back home. Simply put your used parts in the bag and then put it in your purse or pumping bag to take home at the end of the day. You can also have two separate bags: one for clean parts and one for dirty parts.
10. Wet wipes
While washing your hands before pumping is ideal, it may not always be possible. Keep hand sanitizing wet wipes in your pumping station to clean your hands before setting up your pump parts. After pumping, you can also use wipes to wipe down your flanges, pump, and any stray drops of milk.
11. Small washbasin and dish soap
After pumping, the CDC recommends washing all pump parts that come into contact with the breast or breast milk to help prevent the growth of bacteria. If possible, keep a small washbasin and travel-sized dish soap in your pumping station; place your flanges, bottles, and membranes into the basin with a little soap and warm water. Wash and set out on a towel to air dry.
12. Water bottle
Ever sit down to nurse or pump and then have a sudden urge to drink a gallon of water? You’re not alone. This is due to the increase of plasma oxytocin in the body. Combat thirst by keeping a water bottle in your pumping station.
Providing milk for your baby burns up to 500 calories per day. A pumping break is a great time to snack on fruits, veggies, lactation cookies, or a protein bar. Here’s one of our favorite recipes for no-bake lactation cookies:
- 1 ¼ cup oats
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup flax seed
- 1 Tablespoon protein powder (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon brewers yeast
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup nut butter
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Mash bananas into oats in a bowl.
- Add flax, protein powder, and brewer's yeast; mix well.
- Add maple syrup and nut butter; mix well.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Spoon onto pan covered with parchment paper.
- Freeze for 30-60 minutes.
- Keep frozen for best results.
14. Comfortable chair and table
A table to place your pump on and a comfortable chair to sit in can be great additions to your pumping station. Some moms with office jobs keep their pump on their desk and pump while working. Other moms find their output to be greater if they take a break from work to pump.
15. Blanket or jacket
No one wants to be cold while pumping. Keeping a blanket or sweater nearby can help you stay warm and comfortable instead of cold and tense. Being relaxed will help increase your pumping output.
16. Photos of your baby
Looking at photos of your baby, watching videos, or even talking to your baby while you pump are all great ways to relax and increase your oxytocin levels while pumping. (Don’t forget your phone/laptop charger!)
17. Breast pads
Keep breast pads in your pumping station in case you forget to put them in your bra before you leave your house or you notice the ones you’re wearing are full. Disposable and reusable breast pads both absorb leaks, so try them out and stick with whichever works better for you.
18. Nipple balm/lanolin
Nipple balm or lanolin can help soothe sore nipples. It can also create more suction around the breast shield and prevent friction. If you don’t have any nipple balm or lanolin, a little breast milk will do the trick. Some moms even use coconut oil.
19. Nursing cover
Though not a necessity, if you worry about unexpected interruptions, you may want to keep a nursing cover on hand. This will give you some privacy if you don’t have a dedicated pumping room or private office.
20. Door hanger/sign for privacy
If your workspace doubles as your pumping space or your pumping break is prone to interruptions, you may appreciate having a door hanger asking coworkers or students to knock or come back later.
Click here to download our printable door hangers:
Since planning ahead can ease some anxiety about returning to work, we hope this list helps you with your next step. Pack all these items and don’t forget to wear your hands-free pumping and nursing bra!
If you’re feeling a little emotional about leaving your baby for the first time, try these affirmations to help boost your mood and keep your supply up. Any other must-have items for your work pumping station? We’d love to hear them. Please comment below!