The Ultimate Pumping Mom’s Backpack

The Challenge

  To successfully travel to North Carolina and back with 2 breast pumps and all the necessary gear.

My Inspiration

 I’m an exclusive pumper. This means that I pump breast milk for my son and feed it to him with a bottle. This also means I have to pump several times a day to maintain a good supply of milk and to make sure I avoid developing clogs which could lead to dreaded mastitis. I know, TMI, but it’s true.

I have two different pumps that I use. One pump is a standard insurance provided double electric pump (Medela Pump In Style Advanced “PISA”) and the other is a super expensive, rented on a monthly basis, hospital-grade pump (Medela Symphony). Both pumps are essential.  The PISA is small, easy to set up and can be powered with a car power adapter for pumping on the go. The Symphony is bulky, heavy and a little more complicated to set up, but it is a much nicer, boob-friendly pump. I know, TMI, but it’s true.

So what is one to do when she has to travel across the country via airplane, stay 2 nights in a hotel and still pump 5-6 times a day? Believe me when I tell you that I stressed about this for weeks. How was I going to haul around my precious pumping equipment, keep it all readily accessible and not have to needlessly check a bag because I had too much stuff to lug through the airport?

Here were my issues:

  • the TSA says you can only have 2 carry-on items
  • I was only leaving for 2.5 days so I really didn’t want to/need to check a bag
  • I have a ton of equipment to carry
  • The travel case for my hospital grade Symphony pump looks like this:

    Banana for scale.
  • I didn’t want to carry the above monstrosity over my shoulder walking through the airport.
  • The above monstrosity holds barely anything inside of it besides just the pump itself
  • If I carried the above monstrosity as my carry-on, I’d almost certainly have to check a bag because I wouldn’t physically be able to handle a rolling suitcase, a duffle bag or backpack AND the monstrosity.
  • United charges $25 per checked bag and this cheapskate did NOT want to pay that.

So, I researched bags specifically designed for traveling pumping moms and there was nothing out there that fit my needs. They were all extremely expensive, poorly designed and not very utilitarian. As the date of the trip grew closer, my anxiety heightened and I needed a solution. I could not and would not travel with the monstrosity of a case so I needed to get creative. I searched for hours for a backpack but nothing seemed sturdy enough, protective enough and large enough for what I needed… until…

I found the Amazon Basics DLSR and Laptop Backpack. You’re probably thinking.. “A photography backpack?” and “is this an #ad or #sponsored post?” and YES it is a photography backpack and NO, even though I wish it was, this is not a sponsored post. Sister likes free stuff, so Amazon if you’re reading this – it’s not too late to sponsor me!

I chose the photography backpack because it’s meant to keep things inside of it safe. I wanted to ensure the bag I chose had adequate padding so that my pumps wouldn’t get tossed around and possibly damaged. This bag had a great amount of padding, lots of pockets and just enough space for all the pumping gear I needed to take with me.

What I Need

  • Amazon Basics DSLR + Laptop backpack – Cost: $39.99 ($10 cheaper than checking a bag and it’s not money wasted!)
  • TONS of pumping equipment
  • a trip to the chiropractor after wearing a heavy backpack for 2.5 days

Who is Helping Me

 A special shout-out goes to my friend Joelle who shared a hotel with me and had to be with me the whole time I was in North Carolina. She had to accommodate me and my pumping needs all weekend long and she didn’t complain once. She sat with me while I pumped in the car, tolerated me pumping at 5am in the same room and didn’t noticeably gag when she had to see my pumping flanges on the bathroom counter.

Another special shout-out goes to the fellow pumping moms using the Mother’s Room Chicago O’Hare and Charlotte Douglas Airport. Special thanks to TSA for not caring that I had two breast pumps with me.

Who is NOT Helping Me

Medela and companies that make pumping accessories. Seriously.. ya’ll can’t design a better bag or traveling case? Pumping moms don’t sit home all day so we need to travel with our pump(s). Can you make it a little easier on us and design something that is functional and comfortable?

Podcast I Listened To

 “Wine for Normal People” is a podcast that’s exactly how it’s billed: it’s a wine podcast for normal people who want to know more about wine but don’t need all the pretentiousness that comes with it. The host is a sommelier and she has her “wine loving normal person” husband join her to ask questions and help clarify some of her more complex wine comments/jargon. I’ve learned a TON from this podcast. This week I listened to the episode that compares Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon to Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. My hubs and I are headed to Napa in September so I’m trying to learn as much as I can about it before we go. If you’re a nerd and like wine, I’d definitely recommend this podcast.

How I Did It

  1. I ordered the bag off of Amazon and in the 2 days it took to receive it, I prayed like crazy the bag would work the way I wanted it to.
  2. When it arrived, I took out all the inner padding compartments

    Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 9.55.10 PM.png
    This is how it looked when it cam – without camera parts in it, of course.
  3. I grabbed the pumps, the plugs, the bottles, flanges, tubing, car adapter, covers and bra and started arranging it all inside the bag.
  4. I cried a little because everything fit perfectly, it was exactly what I needed and I now had all my pumping equipment in one easy to carry bag!firstpack.jpgI took this picture the night I got the bag, so please excuse the quality. As you can see, I used the extra inner padding parts to create dividers and to provide an extra layer of padding over the top of my Symphony pump’s buttons.
An overhead view of the pack. Flanges omitted
Inside the front pouch – lots of space for essentials: Car adapter, Kindle, Gummies, Bible, Medela Pen (again, not an #ad)
Back laptop pouch – a perfect place for 2 covers and a pumping bra


mother's room.jpg

I had Joelle take a super dorky photo of me in front of the Charlotte Airport Mother’s Room. It was super nice!

Final Thoughts/Would I Do It Again?

Yes! Aside from how heavy it was, I LOVED carrying this backpack. It had supportive straps, durable zippers and handles and lots of space for everything I needed. I am so so so so glad I was able to get everything in one bag. Getting through TSA was an absolute breeze and the bag was definitely able to fit under the seat in front of me on the plane.

I cannot recommend this backpack enough for pumping moms. Big floppy duffle bags and ginormous plastic carrying cases are a thing of the past.. the backpack is where it’s at!



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