Whether you’re like me and work from your car, commute in your car to work, or want to enjoy a few hours away from your baby and find yourself in the car during that time, pumping in the car is sometimes necessary. I have found that there are a few things that one really should know to make it work more smoothly.
If you are driving, a pumping bra is a must! I have a Simple Wishes bra that does the job, a Hooter Holster that is comfy and functional, and I also have a sports bra that I made into a pumping bra. I like the sports bra hack because I don’t have to try to wrestle the pumping one on and off in the car. My job allows me to dress fairly casually, so a sports bra works under the polo that I often wear.
A quiet pump is a plus. I have to make a lot of phone calls while I’m in my car. Multiple times with a Medela Pump In Style, I had people ask me to roll my window up as they could hear the semi-truck driving next to me or insist I call them back when I’m in an area where I have better reception and less static on the line. This hasn’t happened with either my Spectra or Evenflo pumps.
The next tip is to buckle in your pump. The last thing you need is to have your pump slide off the seat if you have to stop quickly. This can create a BIG mess and it is perfectly OK to cry over spilled milk!
You are going to want to make sure you have a reliable power source for your pump. This time around, I have the Spectra S1, so it has an internal battery. I used to have a car that had a regular outlet along with the car outlet, so I didn’t need anything special, but I haven’t seen too many vehicles where that is available. Other solutions include getting a battery pack to use, but I learned that you go through A LOT of batteries and can quickly lose suction as the batteries lose power. You can also purchase a car adapter. The only downside to this is that the car needs to be on or you run the risk of killing your car’s battery.
Because my car is my primary pumping space, I keep extra parts and milk storage bags in the console. The other thing I keep in the car is a manual pump. I made the mistake once of forgetting my flanges and decided to make sure I always had a plan B in place!
Keeping Your Milk Cold
Depending on how long you are out and about, you want to have a way to keep your milk at a safe temp. I live in Minnesota, so it’s pretty easy to keep milk cold during the winter. If you live somewhere warmer or are keeping the milk in your car for more than a couple of hours, you will want to have a good cooler with plenty of ice packs.
I also make sure I keep the car fully stocked with snacks and water. The best way I’ve found to maintain my supply is to make sure I’m staying hydrated and fueled. I don’t want to risk getting thirsty during the day and running out of water. With fluctuations in temperatures, I’ve found that my Hydaway water bottle is great. The silicone won’t get damaged if your water starts to freeze, and unlike plastic water bottles, it doesn’t leech chemicals into your water in the summer heat.
Because spills and leaks do happen, keep a towel close at hand. Recently, I had a bottle with 3 oz somehow untwist from my flange and dump all over my lap. This was a VERY sticky mess that I cleaned up with 3 prefold cloth diapers and heat vents on high.
I feel that it is OK to use pump parts multiple times without washing them. I keep my parts in a reusable wet bag and keep them in the cooler with my milk between pumping sessions. At the end of the day, I will wash them.
My last tip is more one of personal preference. More often than not, I pump without a cover. I drive an SUV and am not too particular about other drivers seeing me. I do have a couple of entertaining stories from when I have pumped without a cover. My first day back to work with my first kid, I was cruising down the road when a van from a correctional facility happened upon me. I was spotted with my boobs out, driving down the freeway, by 10 inmates. Another time, I was parked in the back of a parking lot of a care facility when a colleague saw my car and decided he needed to have a conversation with me. I was going about my routine of some hands-on pumping when he tapped on my window. Either he was completely clueless as to what was happening, or just didn’t care. Knowing the guy, I’m guessing clueless!
So, whether you make a habit of car pumping, or find yourself in a position where you have no other choice, it is definitely do-able. The last tip, be safe and pay attention to the road!
Hey, I’m Meaghan and I live in Minnesota with my husband, our 2 daughters, and our 2 dogs. I describe myself as semi-crunchy and have developed a passion for trying out different products, especially all things cloth diapering and breastfeeding. Check out my blog for product reviews, more of my sage advice, and also some recipes (seriously, try the banana bread!). You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook page.