Blog post

Pumping Essentials: 9 Must-Haves Products for a Better Pumping Journey

August 18, 2017

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy here

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

When I began my exclusively pumping journey, I thought a pump and some bottles were all I was going to need. While that technically is true, there are a lot of cool products that make milking the girls easier and more efficient.

Here’s my list of what you need to help you get your pump on and while maintaining your sanity.


Having a good pump is an absolute necessity for any pumping mama. And thanks to recent legislation, most mothers can get one for free or at a discounted rate through their insurance company.

Medela is the market leader when it comes to pumps and pumping supplies, and their pump, the Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced (PISA), is one of the most popular pumps on the market. It has excellent suction and is a total work-horse. I know plenty of moms who’ve had theirs for a year or more and it’s still ticking.

But in the world of exclusively pumping mamas, there’s a new pump company that’s started to rival Medela and their PISA. Spectra Baby. An Australian-founded company that began it’s US invasion in 2013. Spectra markets their pumps (the popular S1 and S2) as hospital grade, with adjustable digital suction settings.

I have both tried both the Spectra and the Medela, and I can say that my preference is definitely the Spectra. Both the S1 and the S2 have quiet motors and gentle, nipple-friendly suction. You can personalize your suctions settings to whatever levels work best for you and there’s even a built-in nightlight to help you see what you’re doing during those middle of the night pump sessions. The only difference between the S1 and the S2 is that the S1 comes with a built-in battery pack. This is a lifesaver for busy moms! You can continue to pump while you move around the house doing chores or attending to children. Or even pumping on the go! I don’t know how I lived before I got my S1!

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

If you don’t have a hands-free bra, get one . . . now! I cannot adequately express how much easier pumping has been since I went hands-free. I mean, who really wants to hold bottles to your chest for 30+ minutes? Not me!

This bra by Simple Wishes is great! It has a velcro panel in the back that can adjust to just the right size for you. And it’s front zip design makes putting it on a breeze and is probably my favorite feature! My first hands-free pumping bra had a back, velcro closure. It made it really hard for me to get the bra tight enough to stay up while holding the flanges in place. Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra solved that problem for me.

I also really love the Rose pumping bras by The Dairy Fairy. Once I started getting closer to returning to work, I started thinking about how to minimize my prep time so I could spend the most time possible pumping while on my breaks. Rose is just like a regular bra that happens to have slits in the front to hold flanges. It offers enough support that I can wear it all day, so there’s no need to change into a different bra when it comes time to pump. Plus, it’s pretty. As a busy mom, most of the time I’m in old jeans and a plain tee, hair in a bun, no make-up on, just trying to make it through the day. Add to that the unglamorous-ness of pumping, and I usually don’t feel very attractive. But wearing this pretty bra is a sweet little pick-me-up that helps me feel more like myself and less like a mom.

MayMom Printable Caliper

Finding the right flange size is so important for getting the most out of your pumping session. Lots of sites will tell you what size flange you need for your nipple size, but actually measuring your nipples can be tricky. When I found out about the MayMom Printable Nipple Caliper, I realized that my previous measurement (which involved a soft-tape and eyeballing it) was way off! I’d been using size 24 flanges, when what I actually needed was size 17!

The caliper is free. Just download the file, print it, cut it out, and measure. Easy peasy!

Lansinoh TheraPearls

Lansinoh TheraPearls are reusable hot/cold packs that provide relief for a multitude of breastfeeding ailments. Use them cold to help relieve swelling and pain from engorgement or hot to help relieve clogged milk ducts or speed let-down so you can spend less time pumping. They can be used directly on the breast, or wrapped around the flange.

I battled clogged milk ducts a lot, early in my pumping journey. These saved me so many times by helping me work out the clog. I wouldn’t want to pump without them in my arsenal.

Nursing Cover

In my own home, I’m not generally shy about my pumping. I’ve pumped in front of friends and family alike. But not everyone needs (or wants) to see my tatas. My dad, for instance. The idea of seeing his little girl’s chichis is just too much for his brain to handle. So I just throw on this inexpensive nursing cover (that can double as a scarf) and pump away without the risk of burning his eyes. It’s also great for those times I need to pump in the car. I don’t really want that guy in the lifted truck getting a birds eye view of my bare breasts. No, thank you!

Reusable Breast Pads

Before I began pumping, I thought breast pads were just for leaky boobs. I had no idea that breastfeeding meant that your nipples were at full attention All. The. Time. Breast pads can take care of that too. That’s why I love my Bamboobies reusable breast pads. They’re soft and absorbent and their unique heart shape makes them nearly invisible under clothing. And they’re washable, so you can use them for the duration of your pumping journey! No more wasting money on breast pads you just throw away!

They also make a thicker, nighttime version so that you don’t wake up with a wet shirt. Nobody likes that.

Car Adapter

If you don’t want to be tied to the house every time you need to pump, I suggest you grab yourself a car adapter for your pump. I’ve only been pumping for about 4 months and have used mine several times. I use it to pump while running errands and when we took a little day trip out of town. They’re inexpensive and really allow you a lot of freedom to go where you need to without worrying about having to return home or finding an outlet.

Bottle Drying Rack

Exclusively pumping involves a lot of pump parts and a lot of bottles. Lots of parts means lots of washing, so you’re gonna need a place to dry everything. I love this drying rack from Boon. I can place my parts super close together to get as many of them on their at one time as I can. No wasted space. Plus it’s super cute and comes with equally cute accessories. I figure, if I’m going to have one of these things sitting out on my counter for a year or more, I’d rather it not be an eyesore. This rack has form and function!

Bottle Brush

What else are you going to need to wash all those pump parts besides a drying rack? A bottle brush, of course! I personally love this one from Munchkin. It’s got a detachable nipple brush and a spongy top, which I love. I feel like a sponge covers more surface area than bristles do, so it cleans the bottom of the bottle better. Plus it’s inexpensive and comes in several fun colors.

There you have it! My list of absolute musts for any pumping mama. Exclusively pumping is hard enough, I hope this list will help make your journey a little easier and more efficient. Pump on, mamas!

What do you think, fellow pumpers? Did I leave anything out? What are your pumping must-haves?

Linking at: Tatertots & Jello, Skip to My Lou
















  • Maya Maceka

    August 20, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    What a great list you put together! I’m saving this and sending it to my friend who’s pregnant! I think she’ll really appreciate it.

    1. jennycranford

      August 20, 2017 at 7:15 PM

      Congrats to your friend! I hope she’ll find this list helpful. Goodness knows it would have saved me a lot of time in the beginning if I’d known about these things! 🙂

  • Mary

    August 20, 2017 at 5:30 PM

    Great list! One tip I’ll add for the cleaning process would be to keep a large bowl in the sink to hold all of the dirty pump parts. It helps to keep them separate instead of throwing them all in the sink with all of your other dishes.

    1. jennycranford

      August 20, 2017 at 7:16 PM

      Yes! I’ll be talking pumping tips and tricks in an upcoming post, and this is a great one! 🙂

  • Charity

    August 26, 2017 at 4:12 AM

    I’m 7 months in to breastfeeding (and working FT so PT pumping) my 3rd child. Great info, especially for new moms !

  • Christie

    August 26, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    I needed the pumping bra when I was pumping!

  • ashley peavey

    August 26, 2017 at 9:41 PM

    Such great tips, pumping is not easy!

  • Kelsi

    August 27, 2017 at 9:01 AM

    Um, this was SUPER helpful. Definitely pinning for later! I am putting those hot/cold packs in my Amazon basket, asap.

  • Mary

    August 27, 2017 at 10:40 AM

    This is fabulous list. That Nipple Caliper would have been so handy—I still think to this day I used the wrong size for 16 months of pumping!

  • the sophia diaries

    August 28, 2017 at 4:23 AM

    thanks for sharing this! even though I do not plan to have a child any time soon, I will be bookmarking this for the future 🙂

  • Kelly

    August 28, 2017 at 4:33 AM

    I had a battery pack, not a car adapter, but DANG that would’ve been amazing! Also, yes a pumping bra is God’s gift to nursing mamas. LOVE this list. Would’ve used the heck out of it back when I was BF-ing!

  • Lindsey

    August 28, 2017 at 4:39 AM

    I had almost all of these when pumping…and I’ve been totally slacking to do it this time around, I need to start!!

  • Jenna @ A Savory Feast

    August 28, 2017 at 6:36 AM

    I have a lot of these but the hands free pumping bra is on my wish list! I am fortunate to be home with my baby so I don’t have to pump very often but in the beginning I was pumping almost every day to build up an emergency stash. It was so boring to just sit there and pump! With a bra like that I would be able to multitask.

    1. jennycranford

      September 5, 2017 at 2:06 PM

      A hands-free bra is such a lifesaver! I don’t know how I survived the first couple weeks without one!

  • Belle

    August 28, 2017 at 8:17 AM

    I have a friend who’s going to appreciate this. I’ll be sharing it to her!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  • Rebekah

    August 28, 2017 at 8:19 AM

    I only pumped with my last, twins, but these were all lifesavers. It’s amazing how much easier these make your life, especially the pads and nursing cover. You’re right, it is about more than just a pump and bottles!

    1. jennycranford

      September 5, 2017 at 2:07 PM

      Pumping for twins?! Go mama, go! That’s awesome!

  • Vanessa Sokic

    August 28, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    Great tips! I still have a Medela from my first pregnancy but it didn’t have the best pumping power….so here I am at 41 weeks wondering if I really have to replace it!

    1. jennycranford

      September 5, 2017 at 2:10 PM

      I didn’t decide to replace my old pump until a couple weeks into pumping. If your insurance offers a breast pump for free, why not grab another? Even if it’s just for a back up. And if you go with a different brand, then you can try both and decide which works best for you. Different people like different pumps. Congrats on the baby, too! 🙂

  • Victoria with One Sharp mama

    August 28, 2017 at 3:15 PM

    This is a great post for breast-feeding mamas! I loved using the scarf nursing cover it definitely gave me great coverage while we were out in public. I was lucky enough to never need to use the breast therapy items but it’s good to know that they are around. I did find that I needed extra strength nursing pads because I leaked so often. Great comprehensive list

  • Kristen

    August 29, 2017 at 6:51 AM

    Those thermapearls are life savers!!

    1. jennycranford

      September 5, 2017 at 2:11 PM

      Right? I don’t know what I’d do without them!

  • val

    August 29, 2017 at 8:22 AM

    GREAT list! I’ve also tried the Spectra and the PISA and maybe I’m just a creature of habit but I like the PISA more!

    1. jennycranford

      September 5, 2017 at 2:12 PM

      That’s the great thing about all the options available now, there’s something for everyone’s preference 🙂

  • Shari

    August 30, 2017 at 5:38 PM

    The car adapter and caliper are sooo smart. Love everything on this list.

  • brittany ashmore

    August 30, 2017 at 6:55 PM

    Girl these are all great products! I EP’d for almost a year with my 2 oldest! I didn’t have a hands-free bra with my oldest though!!!! I can’t believe it! The car adapter was sooo handy!

    1. jennycranford

      September 5, 2017 at 2:13 PM

      You get all the props for not only EPing for so long, but double props for doing it without a hands-free bra! I probably would have quit a long time ago if I hadn’t gone hands-free!

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