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Pumping while driving

There were a lot of hurdles and struggles I expected when it came to having a baby. Labor. Delivery. Lack of sleep. Bringing a baby into our blended family. But I totally underestimated the struggles that would come with breastfeeding.

Honestly, I went into it kinda halfheartedly. I knew I wanted to try but I didn't feel like I'd be too upset if it didn't work. The whole idea of nursing was strange in my mind... and pumping just seemed stranger. But like everything that comes with becoming a mom, all of those expectations went out the window pretty quickly.

Once I committed to pumping though, I met a new hurdle. I'm not sure of all of the right words for how I felt... the best way I can describe it is like a kind of depression. I felt trapped.. like an extension of a machine. Too many times I had to take a deeeeeeep breath at the start of pumping just to avoid breaking down and crying. Ugh.

I quickly learned that I needed to find ways to be as productive as possible or very distracted to get through pumping enough to keep up with Alexander's appetite. Fortunately a couple of moms in the pumping group I'm in suggesting pumping while driving and after I got over my initial shock, I was all about making this my primary pumping time.


Why? Oh goodness... it saves so much time - especially if you’re in the car a decent amount of time each day - and driving can be a good distraction which can actually help let-down and the amount of milk you express! Personally, I commute about an hour each way to work so having to add pumping time at home before and after work was just a lot more time away from my family than I was willing to give up. Simply and bluntly put, pumping in the car saved my sanity.

So how did I make this happen? How did I manage this every day for months? It's all about preparation. Once I got my things staged, invested in a few things, and figured out my routine, it was smooth sailing. Eventually, once I had enough of a stash and Alexander was eating more and taking a bottle less, my only pumps were during my commute which felt so so freeing.

In case it's helpful to you, I put together the tips I got and the tricks I figured out along with my favorite finds because who has the time to research when they need info fast?

Initial set-up

  • Rearrange whatever you have plugged into your car so that your pump can be plugged in and easily accessible. I recommend the passenger seat for your pump and bag with the pump as close to the driver seat as possible!

  • Make sure your towel(s) are within reach or – even better – lay them in your lap to catch any drips or spills!

Daily step-by-step


  • Buckle up and then set up your pump / flanges / cover / etc. Keep towels within reach! I recommend laying a towel across your lap *just in case* of spills or overflow.
  • Start up the car and start pumping
  • Once stopped, while still wearing the parts, unscrew the pump bottle and pour the milk into the storage bottles or bags.
  • Screw the pump bottles back onto flanges.
  • Remove entire flange / bottle assembly as one piece from pumping straps or bra and prep to store the flange / bottle assemblies all together.
  • Wipe down parts with pump wipes and / or store parts in a small cooler or bag with an ice pack or in a fridge for the day (a great way to avoid washing pump parts after *every* pump).
  • Once you’re home, bring in all pumped milk and parts. Prep bottles for the next day and / or freeze pumped milk and wash pump parts. Make sure to rinse out and air dry your pump part storage bags and coolers too! Oh, and get those ice packs into the freezer!

My Favorite Finds


Sometimes, the right tools make all the difference and these were the game changers for me:

Strap / pumping bra – both of these work with any nursing bra!
Brauxilary strap
Sarah Wells Pumpease - Love this because it coordinates with the rest of my pumping set-up
Sarah Wells bags / accessories - I love the Deco pattern as is probably obvious by my front seat.

The Sarah Wells Claire bag - it fits a laptop plus it has 2 insulated pouches that can keep pumped milk cold and plenty of other pockets for staying organized. It comes in black and brown (what I have) and after pumping, it'll make a great combo laptop / lunch bag. 
The Sarah Wells Kelly bag - Once I was able to drop the workday pumps, I switched over to this bag because it holds my pump plus everything I need to keep in the daily diaper bag. Plus it has backpack straps which makes it great when we're out and about! This is another one we definitely get a ton of use out of still because the insulated pockets are great for snacks and the bag has plenty of room for everything we need.
Pumparoo wet / dry bag - This accessory bag is great for holding my nursing strap or pumpease and pump parts (flanges, duckbills, bottles). Wet / dry bags also really come in handy for dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, ... you get the idea!
Small cooler for pumped milk - Sarah Wells has a coordinating cooler bag that comes with a great ice pack too. Yes, the pump bags have insulated pockets but if you need extra space or want to store it separate from your daily bag, you're gonna want this! https://amzn.to/2GhNLdI
Side note: I so appreciate the Sarah Wells Bags VIP group that is open to all BF-ing mommas. The community there is so supportive and helpful! https://www.facebook.com/groups/SarahWellsVIP

Towels! I just use our kitchen towels and keep a couple in the car

Bottles or bags for pumped milk

We had great luck with the smilo bottles (http://tiny.cc/smilogabi - 15% off and free shipping through that link!) which fit perfectly with the flat caps in the Sarah Wells Cold Gold!
Extra milk for the freezer stash – no issues at all with the Lanisoh bags
I don’t recommend pumping directly into the bags on the road (I’ve tried this!) or really any time because its way too open and spills are going to be really likely!

Car adapter - I have a Spectra S2 pump so this adapter works for me  – the same brand makes adapters for multiple pumps (including Medela)!

Nursing covers - It's not likely someone will see what you’re doing – especially if you’re wearing a nursing top – but these are my favorite covers when I want to use them

 This one doubles as car seat cover – super handy!
 This one is so soft and I love the little mesh “window”
And I love this one because it makes for a great scarf too!




Plenty of ice packs for both pumped milk and pump parts!

Pump wipes for midday cleaning - Medela wipes were recommended at the hospital and come in a great package that’s easy to keep handy


I think that about covers it! I truly found these tips so helpful and I'm glad to be able to add my own advice and share them with you. Pumping and nursing is plenty stressful so I'm all for anything that might make it a little easier!

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