I nursed and pumped breast milk until my son was over 18 months, so I’ve come up with some amazing time saving hacks for pumping.
I am sharing my #1 time saving tip (and sanity-saving!) with you here.
Don’t give up pumping
So many moms give up pumping for many reasons, such as:
- Going back to work
- Not having enough time to be attached to the pump several times a day while trying to take care of a newborn
- Just being tired of feeling like a human cow
My son also didn’t start eating well until 2 years old (read our story and why I started this blog about overcoming picky eating), so I had no choice but to keep pumping.
Luckily, a friend gave me this tip pretty early on, and it is the only way I managed to stay sane with pumping for so long.
If you’re thinking about quitting pumping, please give this a try first to see if it makes pumping more manageable.
#1 time saving tip for pumping
If you have a healthy baby who is not a brand new newborn, you don’t have to wash or sterilize all the pump parts or bottles after every pumping session!
Just store all the parts in a clean zip lock bag in the fridge for ~1-3 days.
That’s right. The whole breast shield that gets screwed onto a bottle can go in the zip lock bag. No need to disassemble it. Don’t even rinse it. Just put it right into a zip lock bag after pumping.
And the great part is that you can keep using that same zip-lock bag for days. (You can use a washable reusable zip lock bag if you want to be a little more environmentally friendly.)
This cuts down on pump cleaning so much!!
But doesn’t the milk go bad?
Freshly pumped breastmilk can last in the fridge for up to 4 days. The exact number of days can vary depending on:
- The temperature of your fridge
- Whether any bacteria were introduced while pumping or storing
- Your own breastmilk… I’ve had breast milk last for over 5 days, and some bottles got funky after ~3-4 days (you’ll know by the smell)
The residual milk on all your pump parts will last for about 4 days refrigerated just like the breast milk in a bottle, if you placed all the parts in the fridge immediately after pumping.
Of course, this means that if you use the same pump parts for 2 days without washing, your countdown to 4 days starts at 2 days for the newly pumped milk. But as long as you use the pumped milk or freeze it within the additional 2 days, you’re good.
Store the bottles too!
I would combine milk from several pumping sessions and store the empty bottles capped in the fridge instead of washing them every time.
We used these 8-oz bottles from Medela for storing breast milk in the fridge. I loved them because they were bigger than the 4-oz bottles that come with most pumps. They also fit my Ameda breast pump perfectly, so they are probably compatible with other breast pumps!
Of course, I had to keep track of how long the breast milk has been in the fridge. For example, if I combined fresh milk with 2-day old milk, the whole bottle would now be considered 2 days old instead of fresh.
But it wasn’t that complicated since my son was drinking lots of milk. We were going through the milk fairly quickly, and if I had any doubt about how exactly how old the milk was, I would just freeze it.
I had a nice stash of frozen milk, and that had to be used up too before it got too old anyway. Freezing newer milk and thawing older frozen milk was all part of the process anyway.
Cleaning the pump parts
To clean the pump parts, I would fill the zip lock bag with warm water and a squirt of dish soap, then zip it back up. Give it a shake, and let it soak for a little bit, or until I was ready to thoroughly clean everything.
Which brings me to…..
#2 time saving tip for pumping
The other thing that is a MUST-HAVE if you’re going to pump long term is to have 2-3 sets of ALL the pump parts that come into contact with breast milk: have extras of the parts that go on your breasts, the valves, the flaps, the membranes, and whatever else your pump requires.
And of course, lots of breast milk storage bottles and bags.
I loved these 8 oz bottles from Medela, even though I didn’t have a medela pump. They fit perfectly on my Ameda pump and were great for storage because they are larger than the 4 oz bottles that come with most breast pumps.
And we loved these Breastmilk Storage Bags from Lansinoh. We used them the whole time and they never broke or burst after freezing.
Since I had extra pump parts, I didn’t have to immediately wash the pump parts after I was done using them. I would grab another set when it was time to pump and wash everything later that day. Or leave them for my husband to wash. 😉
It was SUCH A RELIEF not to have to worry about washing the pump parts in between every pumping session, or even every day. Let it sit in soapy water for a day. It will be OK.
I really believe these time-saving tips really make the difference between sticking it out with pumping and giving up.
Of course, only do this if you have a healthy baby who is a few weeks old. If your pediatrician advises that you sterilize the pump parts, then this might not be ideal for you.
Sterilizing pump parts
We rarely sterilized the pump parts, bottles, or pacifiers after that first time that you have to sterilize when you buy all that baby gear. Our son was fine.
Obviously, if our son had any stomach issues or diarrhea, I would have stopped this fridge-storage of pump parts. But he was fine, and I was glad not to have to wash pump parts 5x a day.
When we did sterilize the pump parts, we used these these bottle sterilizing bags for the microwave. It made everything SUPER easy, and each bag can be reused 20 times!
What do you think? Are you willing to try this?? I hope these tips make it easier for you to keep pumping and encourage you to not give up!
Looking for more helpful tips for new moms?
- The 3 Diaper Change Hacks I wish I knew before my son was born
- Which baby feeding products are worth it?? Save time and money by only buying what you actually need
- Questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician – a thorough list of questions to help you see if the pediatrician AND office staff are right for you, and a FREE printable list of questions so you don’t have to write them all down
- How to make high calorie baby food
- Banana pineapple and spinach baby food recipe
Do you know a new mom who NEEDS to learn about this amazing mom hack?? Please share this with her using the share buttons at the top or bottom of this blog post. And save it for later on Pinterest: