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18 Essential Items to Pack in Your Breast Pump Bag

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You successfully packed a hospital bag for you, your husband and your baby. You’ve mastered what you need to pack in the diaper bag. You’ve found the best products for pumping moms. But now you’re headed back to work, and you need to know what to pack in your pump bag. We’ve rounded up a list of the essential items to pack in your breast pump bag for your first day back on the job.

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Do you really need a breast pump bag?

As a pumping momma myself, that answer is a resounding yes! My first day back to work, I had my purse, my lunch (stacked full of snacks!), my laptop bag, and my pump. If you’re also walking out the door with your baby and diaper bag, you’re bound to forget something if it’s not all in one place together. Get the pump that comes in a backpack or purse and you’ll have enough room for all the pump parts and the milk as well (and your hands will be free for everything else you need).

What do you put in a pump bag?

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

The pump!

This is a no brainer, but you’re operating on very little sleep at this point, so I didn’t want you to miss it. If you’re heading back to work, you’ll want a double electric pump to cut down on your pumping time. I recommend getting a pump that comes right in the bag, that way you’ll never forget it.

Batteries or the AC adapter

Let’s be honest, pack both. If the electric goes out, you’re covered. If the batteries die, you’re still good. And if you should need to pump in your car, you’re ready! The batteries and AC adapter come with the pump. Just don’t forget to pack them.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Pump parts

You’ll need breast shields, connectors, valves and membranes, and tubing. Always carry extra membranes! Those things can be tricky when cleaning, and they are easy to lose down the sink or on the floor. All these parts come with the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump.

The more prepared you are, the less stressed you’ll be on your first day back to work, so I also recommend having a second set of pump parts. You can either leave a set in your desk, so you’re always prepared. Or once you have the extra set, you will always have a clean set ready to go for the next day. When buying an extra set, make sure the breast shields are not attached to the connectors or you won’t be able to use them with your pumping bra.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Hands-free pumping bra

You don’t want to be sitting there for 20 minutes holding the breast shields in place. The hands-free pumping bra allows you to check emails, voicemails, or snack while pumping (or just relax for a minute).

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Nursing cover

Just in case you have to pump in an inconvenient location, like your car or if you have to share the pumping room with other mommas (or if you just want more privacy). This nursing cover is nice because it doubles as an infinity scarf, so you can easily just wear it during the day.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Nipple cream

Sore nipples can happen pretty much anytime during the breastfeeding process, and I know that sometimes those breast shields can chafe (ouch!). This nipple cream also works great on chapped hands.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag
essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Nursing pads

You had a meeting run late or your car breaks down or there was a screaming baby on the bus. It’s always good to have a backup set, trust me. The disposable pads are nice because if they need changed, you can easily throw them away, rather than having to carry them back home to wash them. The Medela nursing pads seem to be slimmer and won’t show any creases under your tops, while the Lansinoh nursing pads work perfect for overnight.

Burp cloth or small towel

Somehow I always managed to get milk everywhere, especially on a day when I would forget to bring a towel. I used cloth diapers as burp cloths. They are super absorbent and are perfect to wipe up any extra milk from you or the pump.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Heat therapy pack

Heat causes your breastmilk to let-down, which is helpful when you’re new to pumping. These heat therapy packs are nice because they fit right around the breast shields. They’re also wonderful if you become engorged or have a case of mastitis. They can also be placed in the freezer to help alleviate sore nipples.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag: white backpack on bed
essential items to pack in your breast pump bag
Photo by Georgia Maciel from Pexels

Photo (or video) of your little one

Pumping at work has its distractions. The noises the pump makes can be one of the most distracting, and being stressed about pumping can be one of the main reasons you aren’t able to pump enough. So take a breath, and have a look at the super cuddly face and relax as best as you can. A video of your little one cooing or crying works just as well as it does in person.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Hand sanitizer

You should always wash your hands before you start pumping. But if you’re on your phone or having a snack or just in case you’re somewhere without access to water, you’ll want to keep your hands clean so as not to contaminate the breastmilk. It’s also a good idea to keep some hand sanitizer in your diaper bag.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Water bottle

You need to stay hydrated throughout the day to keep making that milk, so drink up momma. Use a marked water bottle to make sure you’re getting enough water all day.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag
essential items to pack in your breast pump bag


A pumping momma is a hungry momma, and you don’t want to be relying on the vending machine. Get a protein-filled snack to keep you going throughout the day and lactation bars to keep up your milk supply.

What do you store your pump parts in?

You don’t want to throw your clean pump parts right in the pump bag. Chances are they’ll end up on the floor. You also don’t want to throw wet parts back in your pump bag after cleaning. What’s the solution? Wet/dry bags!

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Wet/dry bags for pump parts

I didn’t think about this until I was packing my bag the night before I went bag to work, so I just grabbed some Ziploc bags, but since you’re thinking ahead, you can get these wet/dry bags. They’re also great for carrying dirty diapers in the diaper bag.

Can you pump into the same bottle all day?

The short answer is no. Freshly expressed milk should not be poured into a bottle of chilled milk. You’ll need a set of two bottles each time you pump. You’re also going to need somewhere to store that milk until you can get it back home.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Collection bottles

With the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump, you’ll get four collection bottles. If you’re pumping more often than twice a day, you’re going to need more bottles. I would also recommend getting enough bottles for two days, so you always have a clean set on hand.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Cooler bag with ice pack

If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you’ll need some way to keep that milk cold. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump comes with a cooler and ice pack big enough for four bottles, but again, if you’re pumping more than twice a day, you’ll need an extra cooler and ice pack.

How do you keep pump parts clean at work?

You should wash your pump parts (anything that comes in contact with breastmilk) with soap and water after each use. However, you may not always have access to soap and water, a sink, or a sanitary place to wash everything. But we’ve found the next best thing.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Cleaning wipes

You can use these if you don’t have soap and water available to wash your parts after each use. I always rinsed my parts with water, then used the cleaning wipes. Take all of the pieces completely apart to make sure you hit all the places the milk touched. Even those slippery, pesky membranes. This is when it comes in handy to carry extra membranes.

essential items to pack in your breast pump bag

Sanitizing bags

These sanitizing bags are to be used after you wash your parts with soap and water. They go in the microwave and can be used 20 times. They do need water to work. I always kept one in my bag just in case. They’re great for sterilizing anything small (pacifiers, nipple shields, baby spoons, etc.).


If it seems like a lot, that’s cause it is. My best tip would be to pack your pump bag a few days before you return to work, so you don’t forget anything. Make sure to clean those pump parts each night and restock your bag before you go to bed. Getting an extra set of pump parts and collection bottles makes the nightly process so much easier.

Get the checklist to make sure everything is packed, every time!

essential items to pack in breast pump bag: woman walking with her backpack

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