Basic Necessities for Pumping

If you happen to have read my previous pumping post, you will know that I didn’t plan to exclusively express for my daughter. The pumping life chose me! Because of this, I found myself under prepared and ill-equipped for the road ahead. My aim for this post is to share the things I’ve found most useful for any parent who plans on exclusively expressing or (like me), finds themselves thrust into it and urgently needs advice. 

I’ll be covering the items in more detail below but to quickly summarise, the essentials are:

1. A Pump

2. A Haakaa

3. Hands Free Pumping Bra

4. Nipple Pads

1. A Pump

This goes without saying. If you’re going to pump, you’re going to need a breast pump. But which one?! There’s so many, and the information out there is overwhelming. I was in denial for a while that I would be pumping for so long and once I was discharged from the hospital I was using a manual for a while before I finally gave in. 

I’ve found a double electric one the most beneficial. They do come at a cost though, so whilst I saved up, I was using a manual on one side and a single electric on the other (interchanging them each pump). I did this for the first 3 months until I could buy a double. 

Some mums swear by wearable pumps. I did give in to a second hand Elvie but I found it more of a hindrance, not to mention overpriced. I think having an troublesome oversupply, I find the Elvie doesn’t properly empty my breasts each pump and I found it a bit of a faff. However, I can review the Elvie model another time in a separate post if necessary. 

2. A Haakaa

A haakaa is a silicone pump that works by using negative pressure to catch your ‘let down’ on the opposite breast during nursing. I don’t use it for that purpose as I’m currently not directly breastfeeding, but I know those who do, find it very useful. 

I have found the haakaa a godsend for unclogging blocked milk ducts. I was told by an infant feeding specialist, that mums who exclusively express are at higher risk for blockages, as babies are much more effective at emptying breasts than pumps. This I can attest to. 

I get blocked ducts frequently and sometimes the haaka is the only thing that helps. I usually fill it with warm water and a table spoon of salt (they say epsom salts are best but I just use regular table salt). You want there to be enough water to touch your nipple when the pump is attached. The water acts as a soother and the salt is supposed to draw out the clot. This, mixed with the squeeze of the haakaa and the clot should disperse. It doesn’t sound like much, but it really works! I found YouTube a great visual guide for this. 

3. Hands Free Pumping Bra

A hands free pumping bra is your breast friend. It enables you to pump whilst giving you the freedom back of your hands. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve done whilst pumping: cooking, tidying, stroking my cats, changing nappies, the list goes on. The pumping bra is a must and even if you plant on pumping occasionally, it really makes a difference. 

4. Nipple Pads

I was told I’d leak before I even started breastfeeding, but I didn’t know to what extent! Even when you think its safe to go bra free…. Its not. Unless you want to be covered in milk every time you hear your baby cry (or even think about your baby), then you’ve got to invest in some nipple pads.  

You can either get disposable or reusable ones and I’ve tried both. I do feel that the disposal ones are more absorbent, but to reduce waste I try to use the bamboo washable ones as much as possible. However, make sure to change them regularly or you’ll end up smelling of sour milk. And yes, that’s something I’ve learned the hard way. 

Nipple pads are also great for keeping nipple creams / ointments on your nipple instead of just smearing all over the inside of your bra. I can talk about my favourite creams/nipple treatments in another post.


With all that being said, if you find yourself exclusively pumping / choose to go down this route you will find what works best for you. Every mum is different. For example, some mums prefer to exclusively hand express and so a pump isn’t needed. These are just the things that I found have helped me with this journey and I hope they help you too!

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