…and by pumping system, I don’t mean the lovely Medela Pump In Style Advanced my dear friend has indefinitely loaned me. I mean the complex system I have come up with to make exclusive pumping while being a working mom to two young kids as efficient and non-time-consuming as possible.

I am a very system and schedule driven person, so it’s important to me to have an efficient system that runs smoothly every day. There are a lot of moving parts, but after about 3 months of exclusive pumping, I think I’ve finally gotten my system down. Here it is.


  • Medela Pump In Style Advanced in tote bag
  • 2-3 sets of pump parts and at least 10 bottles
  • Bowl for dirty bottles and pump parts
  • Bottle drying rack
  • Bottle brushes
  • 2 insulated bags
  • ziploc bags
  • 2 ice packs
  • Breastmilk freezer storage bags
  • Mini fridge and chest freezer (ours are right outside our bedroom door in the hall)
  • Smartphone to stream Netflix shows while pumping (I just caught up with HIMYM and now I’m starting Frasier from the beginning)


Just to set you up with a visual idea of my setups, here are the three “stations” of supplies:

  1. Hallway outside our bedroom: chest freezer; mini fridge with dirty bowl and drying rack placed on top, along with breastmilk freezer bags, a pen, and a bottle of tri-vi-sol
  2. Bedroom nightstand: pump bag placed on top, power strip underneath for pump and phone
  3. At work: This is how I unpack my pump bag and set up for a pumping session.

Morning (usually starts at 6:00am)

  • Wake up, wash hands, retrieve pump parts and bottles from fridge, pump in bed (9-12 oz).
  • Freeze 6 oz bag of milk, store remainder in fridge. Rinse out pump parts, attach to empty bottles and store in fridge.
  • Finish packing up the pump (insert ice packs into both insulated bags, coil up a/c adapter and tubes).
  • Get ready for work and leave.

At work

  • Depending on my meetings for the day, I pump at both 11:00am and 3:30pm OR I pump once at 1:00pm.
  • Go to bathroom appointed for pumping (it’s a single room with two cushioned stools). LOCK THE DOOR, tie my hair into a bun, wash hands, set up, pump (6-9 oz).
  • Rinse out pump parts, store them in ziploc bag in insulated bag, store milk bottles in insulated bag, pack up pump.

At home

  • As soon as we arrive at home, put milk pumped at work into fridge, store ice packs in freezer, put pump parts and used bottles in dirty bowl, put pump bag in bedroom.
  • If I’ve only pumped once at work, after putting the kids to bed I set up the pump on my nightstand, retrieve the refrigerated pump parts and bottles from the fridge, and pump once at 7:00pm (8 oz). If I pumped twice at work, I don’t pump again until right before bed.
  • Store milk in fridge and put used pump parts and bottles into dirty bowl, bring bowl and empty drying rack downstairs.
  • After dinner, wash all dishes, then wash all bottles and pump parts by filling dirty bowl with hot soapy water. Scrub all bottles and pump flanges with the bottle brush and all nipples with the nipple brush.
  • At bedtime (around 10:00pm), bring up empty dirty bowl and drying rack and place on top of mini fridge. Pack pump bag (a set of pump parts in a ziploc bag in one insulated bag, 4 bottles and tops in the other insulated bag) and put away all clean pump parts (I have a clean bowl by my nightstand). Prep one set of pump parts and bottles for pumping.
  • Get ready for bed, then pump in bed. Rinse out pump parts and attach to empty bottles and store in fridge. Prep 4 bottles for the next day’s feedings and freeze any extra milk.

It sounds seriously complex, but after 3 months of working and pumping, it’s become total routine to me and it’s not even annoying anymore to wash the pump parts. (The only annoying thing is if the sink is already full of dirty dishes!) I used to keep a bottle brush and dish detergent in our hall bath to wash pump parts so I’d never have to bring any of my system downstairs, but it’s just easier to wash things in the big kitchen sink, so I just bring the dirty bowl and drying rack down and up each evening.

What’s your pumping system?