If you Google “breastfeeding in public” you can come up with countless resources from experts, moms, bloggers and lactation consultants all about how to gain more confidence when breastfeeding outside the home. But you don’t find as many resources for pumping moms. Yet the majority of new moms pump at least occasionally and will need to do it on the go at some point. And about half of moms need to provide a freezer stash of milk for their baby on a daily basis. Pumping moms need support to plan ahead, prepare for walking out of the house and get comfortable in their routine (and when they feel like straying from that routine) Let’s all go confidently into the direction of being able to freely breastfeed and pump whenever and wherever we need to. Whether you pump on occasion, donate your milk, work outside the home or exclusively pump here are some tips that might help you find that freedom outside of the home.
Have a manual pump
You don’t want to get stuck with a dead battery, can’t find an outlet or broken parts when you are on the go. Having a backup manual pump in your car or bag can be an absolute life saver when you are out and about. Manual pumps are also great for short periods away from baby. They are light weight and portable. Perfect for when you don’t necessarily need an electric pump.
Wear a hands free bra
If you pump at work or anywhere else where you might want to have your hands free to type, eat, read a book or just for the convenience of it. I personally do not want to sit with my hands pressed against breast shields even if I have nothing else to do with my hands. Being comfortable is sometimes a luxury that moms decide we just don’t have time for anymore, but with a bit of prep it’s an achievable goal!
Stephanie at Phoenix Comicon
Ask for help
No matter where you are consider asking where you can find an outlet, a private area, a place to sit, whatever it is you need to feel comfortable. There is a stigma that exists around breastfeeding and pumping in our culture so oftentimes moms are nervous to ask for special accommodations, but most of the time people are happy to help.
CJ says, “Pumping in the car can be a huge time saver! Hands free bra, car charger or battery pack for the pump, get set up before you go, and take off when you get there. When pumping in public, make sure you use large enough bottles so you don’t overflow them. A bag for your pump and small cooler with great ice packs are necessities. I used a nursing cover so I was able to pump comfortably in airport terminals, on planes, and in restaurants without having to find a private space. Most people won’t even notice what you are doing. Keep extra batteries, bags, and pump parts with you at all times.”
Stay on schedule
Keep up your normal routine as much as possible. Pump when you would normally breastfeed or pump. Keeping a consistent schedule of breastmilk expression will help you maintain your supply and keep from getting engorged.
Layers help with pumping just as much as with breastfeeding. With layers you always have options. Some women prefer to be covered and some women prefer to flop the girls out over the tops of their tank tops. It’s your body and your choice about how you are most comfortable pumping. Some women use breastfeeding covers when pumping in at the airport, on airplanes, restaurants and other open public places. It’s up to you.
Mia donates her milk to babies with certain allergies
Bring a photo of your baby
Pumping on the go or in a public place might be a bit stressful. Stress can make it difficult to achieve the milk ejection reflex (letdown). Bringing a photo of your baby, record their cry on your phone or imagine that you are a milk fountain with milk spraying into the sky from your nipples.
Choose your pump wisely
Don’t just get the cheapest pump you can find. This is an important investment that you are going to get a lot of use from. Skimp on the diapers or get a used swing, but get a good quality pump. Choose one that is light weight, portable, quiet, that comes with all of the parts that you will need and that has a battery option and car adaptor.
Get a good bag
There a ton of options for breast pump bags these days. Figure out what you need to bring with you on a regular basis and get a bag that easily fits all of your stuff. If you work then you might need room for binders and a computer. If you are beach babe then maybe all you need are sunglasses and a bikini (yes, you have a bikini body). You can read descriptions and measurements of most bags on Amazon. You don’t want an overflowing bag or have to carry multiple bags if you don’t have to.
Amy at Mount Rainier National Park says, “You can do this, it can work, and you don’t need to feel like you have to be chained at home to your pump. I’ve been an exclusive pumper for 7 1/2 months now. Go, have adventures, go shopping, go to your friends house. It’s okay. Find a pump bag you like with all of the space you need (personal fav is the Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags) and rock it. You deserve to use space too.”
Pumping is a right, just like breastfeeding
I talk a lot about how breastfeeding is a human right. Pumping is too. Feeding your baby however you do is a human right. You can check your state’s laws about pumping in public, but it likely doesn’t say much or anything at all about pumping specifically. There are federal laws that support pumping the workplace that you can review here. The laws are insufficient and you should speak to your employer as soon as possible about your plans to pump. Pumping as a human and legal right should be advocated for in the workplace by all of us.
Breastfeeding in public can be daunting enough, but there tends to be even more anxiety around pumping in public and on the go. With a bit of planning you can set yourself up for success and a comfortable pumping experience without having to disrupt your daily and long term goals.