I am currently almost 7 months into my postpartum and breastfeeding journey, and there have been several occasions when I have been away from my baby and had to bring alllll the supplies to pump during that time. I always get questions about what to pack when pumping on-the-go, so I wanted to dedicate a blog post to it so I can provide more info + links to specific items that have helped make this easier for me!
Let’s jump right in.
bags to store your pump stuff in
I have used this bag multiple times and it’s cute and works well! I will keep my Elvie hubs, a big Ziploc bag with paper towels, wipes, storage bags, and a Sharpie; towels, snacks, etc. in the bag, and I will store my used pump parts in Ziploc bags in the cooler between pump sessions. I am not super familiar with pumps other than the Elvie, but I think it would be plenty big for anything else as well.
Another great option would be this Vooray backpack. I used this as a carry-on bag when we went to Montana and it has a lot of zipper compartments and it’s pretty spacious.
My code wellnessforthewin gets you 20% off, too! (Affiliate code)
BACKPACK LINKED HERE – a lot of colors are sold out right now, but I’ll keep an eye out for them to restock!
breast pump options
Elvie Wearable Pump
Obviously when you are pumping on-the-go, you’re going to need a pump. BUT, what type of pump you will want/need might depend on the situation.
I have a very thorough blog post on the Elvie wearable pump, which is the pump I use 99% of the time. I work full-time and Rhett is at daycare during the week, so I use my Elvie then, and on most occasions when I am away from him I will also use my Elvie.
DO NOT FORGET YOUR CHARGING CORDS FOR YOUR PUMP!!!
Medela Hand Pump
However, I really love having this Medela manual hand pump as another option. There have been a few times when I only had to pump for one missed feeding away from him, and I could get away with just using the hand pump. If I’m away from him for multiple feedings in a row, I’m more likely to get clogs, so I’ll use my real pump in that case. But I can easily get by with this one for one pump sesh.
What I love about this hand pump is that you can easily switch from one boob to the other and there are minimal parts to clean. It also squeezes the milk straight into a bottle, so you can just put the cap on when you’re done and stick it right in your cooler, or fridge, or whatever you’re using to keep it cold. Warning: your hand does get a little tired, haha.
This is also a nice option to have if you have to pump in the middle of the night for just some quick relief but not a full pump session. I would sometimes use it after the dream feed on whichever side he didn’t feed on (he would usually fall asleep after one side).
Haakaa – don’t recommend
While we are on the topic, I wanted to quickly address the Haakaa, in case anyone is wondering about it. A lot of people LOVE the Haakaa and rave about it, however, I personally did not have a ton of luck with it, and wished I would’ve gotten the hand pump a lot earlier in its place. Obviously everyone is different, and you may like the Haakaa better than me, but I really only had luck with it very early postpartum, but after a few months, I got nothing from it.
I also do want to add a good point that someone made — the Haakaa is not meant to be the equivalent of or replace a hand pump. For some it is a helpful tool because it can catch your letdown so that milk isn’t going to waste, HOWEVER, I have also heard lactation consultants caution moms when using the Haakaa because if you are using it to “suction” while you are nursing on the opposite side, you could be telling your body to produce more milk (essentially producing for twins since it somewhat mimics feeding on both sides at once) and you can risk creating an oversupply. Just a heads up!
what to pack when pumping on-the-go: storage
How you choose to store your pumped milk will kinda depend on your situation also. If you’re at a hotel, on a party bus, on a boat… etc. If you are staying at a hotel, try to call ahead of time and request a refrigerator in your room. If you are in a wedding or going to a wedding, see if there is a bridal suite with a fridge or if the venue will let you use one of their fridges. A lot of people told me to do this when I pumped at a wedding. I just ended up using my cooler, but I’m sure most places would be cool about this and accommodating!
For storage, I have always just poured directly into my breastmilk freezer storage bags. Linked below. You might plan to have a big gallon Ziploc bag to put the freezer bags in as well, just in case of any leakage. I’ve never had an issue with that, but you can never be too careful with that liquid gold IMO.
Also, bring a Sharpie for labeling your bags, date/time, etc.
Storage Bags or Bottles
Alternatively, you could pour into bottles with a travel lid. We use Dr. Brown’s bottles and I always store my pumped milk from the work day in the fridge with these lids.
For pumping on-the-go, I’ve used this cooler several times and it has worked like a charm! It’s not too big, but it is big enough to store my milk along with plenty of ice/ice packs, and my Ziploc bags with my pump parts in them. You may also want a water bottle or two in there, because if you’re a breastfeeding or pumping mom, you know the thirst is real. And maybe also a few beers. ; )
Reusable Ice Packs
We love these ice packs. They keep things cold and you don’t have to worry about constantly refilling ice / dumping water, and you can put them back in the freezer after use. Of course it depends on how long you’ll be out and about and needing to store milk. You may need to eventually supplement with some ice, but these are an awesome option that last several hours. (These are nice to have in general for your coolers for all kinds of things, not just for pumping occasions!)
what to pack when pumping on-the-go: cleaning
I recommend packing these items in your pumping bag:
- Paper towels (not a whole roll, but 5-10, depending on how many times / how long you’ll be gone and pumping)
- A few burp cloths and/or hand towels — nice to lay on surfaces to keep all your stuff clean and/or to wipe up any spills
- Medela pump wipes — if you don’t have access to a sink, these are a game changer
- If you’re staying somewhere overnight and needing to wash your pump parts, I would pack a bottle brush and dish soap if there won’t be any where you’re staying (I use Honest dish soap!)
FIND A BUDDY
Honestly, pumping when you’re on a party bus, on a boat, in the car, or whatever the case may be, can be a pain. For sure. A lot of times you may not have someone by your side to help you with anything. BUT if you do, and you feel comfortable, ask a friend for some help if you need it!
When I was on a party bus for example, I needed my friend’s help holding the storage bag open so I could pour the milk in while the bus was moving and my hands/lap were full. Also, sometimes it’s just nice to have some company! Sneaking away to pump can also be a little lonely. I’m super thankful for my Elvie since I am able to put it on and then still be around people while I pump!
drinks and snacks
It never hurts to have some snacks on hand in your pump bag! Never know when the munchies might strike, haha! I always love easy things like mixed nuts, peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets, or easy bars like Aloha (affiliate code wellnessforthewin) or KIND bars, etc.
If you don’t have easy access to some water wherever you will be, throw a few water bottles or Body Armor in your cooler!
I think that is all – please let me know if you have any questions or if I missed anything! I hope this helps you feel more prepared and now you know exactly what to pack when pumping on-the-go! Way to go, mamas!