Tips and Tricks for Pumping on the Go
Our best advice for pumping in public, while traveling and any and everywhere in between
Life doesn’t slow down once you become a mom. Whether you’re going on a trip, running around town or heading back to work, there will be times when you’ll be away from your baby and need to pump on the go. It can seem intimidating at first, but armed with our real-mom advice, you’ll feel confident nursing no matter where you are. Read on to learn our top tips for managing a pumping routine in the midst of a hectic schedule.
How Often Should You Pump?
A good rule of thumb is to pump as frequently as your baby would feed. If your schedule is fairly flexible, you may be able to match up your pump sessions to the same times your baby eats. If that’s not possible, simply try to pump the same number of times as your baby would usually feed during the time you’re away. As your baby grows and nursing sessions become more spaced out, you’ll likely have more flexibility in timing your pump sessions, too.
What to Pack in Your Breast Pump Bag
When you’re pumping on the go, you’ll want to have all the essentials on hand. That means you’ll need your breast pump, a power cord or battery pack, pump bottles, flanges, connectors, membranes and tubes. Don’t forget storage bags or screw-top lids for bottles so you can keep that liquid gold safe when you’re running around. A real-life mom tip: pre-assemble pump parts, pack your pumping bag the night before and leave it all right by the door so you aren’t left scrambling when it’s time to get going. If you have space, you can even carry a couple of extra breast pump parts in case you lose, forget or drop one (it happens!).
Where You Can Find a Mother’s Room
Many airports, hotels, shopping malls, sports stadiums and event venues have a private or semi-private space for moms to nurse or pump. When you’re heading to a public building, ask the information desk or call ahead to find out if there’s a mother’s room available. These spaces usually have chairs, electrical outlets, tables, and counters available to make pumping easier. They sometimes even include a sink.
If you aren’t sure you’ll have access to a mother’s room or even an electrical outlet, consider toting a portable breast pump. A manual pump or an electric one with a rechargeable battery is a great option for when you have to pump in your airplane seat or in a bathroom stall (yuck—we know—but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).
Breast Milk Storage
Breast milk storage is a necessity when pumping on the go. Sturdy, double-zip storage bags or screw-top bottles are your best bets for transporting breast milk without losing a drop. Lansinoh storage bags as some of our favorites.
Breast milk is actually pretty hardy, so it can be left at room temperature for four to six hours. If you’re going to be away from a refrigerator for longer than that, store your milk in a soft-sided cooler bag with ice packs for up to 24 hours. We love PackIt bags because they fold up for easy storage when not in use and have built-in ice packs. If you’re traveling for work or are on vacation for a few days, ask for access to a medical-grade refrigerator to keep your milk cool or use a milk shipping service to send it all home.
How to Clean Pump Parts Away from Home
You’ve pumped. You’ve stored the milk. Now how do you clean your parts? When you take your breast pump on the go, quick-clean wipes are a handy shortcut until you can get back to a sink. Our pump parts hack: keep a Ziploc or wet bag on hand to corral all those small parts. This will help you stay organized and can protect your parts if you want to pop them in the fridge between pump sessions (cool temps cut down on bacteria growth when soap-and-water washing isn’t an option).
How to Encourage Let-Down When Pumping on to Go
Your milk ejection reflex, or “let-down,” may be a little slower while pumping, especially if you’re feeling stressed, rushed or uncomfortable. Try to find a quiet spot and block out distractions. Look at a photo or video of your baby to release those warm and fuzzy hormones and get your milk flowing. Relaxation techniques like listening to music or taking deep breaths can also help. If you’re in a semi-public spot and feeling self-conscious, rest assured that other people are not as aware of what you’re doing as you are!
In your car, in a fitting room, at a park, on an airplane—just like with nursing, it’s possible to pump anywhere and everywhere. Our best advice is to act like you know what you’re doing and just go for it. With time, you’ll get a routine down and feel more comfortable pumping away from home.
If you need help choosing a breast pump for pumping on the go, reach out to our team at The Lactation Network. We’re moms, too, so we’ve pumped in plenty of interesting spots and have lots of real-life tips and semi-awkward stories to share!