Equipment

 

BraSimple Wishes All-in-One is a pumping bra that doesn’t have to be put on or taken off. The cut is low enough to be worn with plunging necklines or button-ups. For A-C sizes the support is plenty to hold pumping assemblies snugly without adjustment. For C+ they provide additional straps but I can’t speak to how usable those are. It made such a big difference when I was to be able to add flanges and start pumping without having to literally put on a new bra (in public).

 

Wet-bagsCloth Zipper Wet Bags in various sizes. Large for holding clean and dirty pump parts. Small for holding bags of milk in a shared fridge, and Medium for holding the pump and extra milk bags so to that the whole set-up can be tucked into various pockets of an existing day bag. Begone is the day of needing a totally separate dedicated pumping bag; especially during air travel where every bag counts. People sorting through a shared fridge trying to find their own lunch typically look right over bags like these. Even if co-workers become wise to the content, the sweet prints only remind people of the delightful parts about having a baby.

 

Vessels.pngVessels! I’ve only encountered two types that are stainless-steel, double-walled, vacuum-sealed, wide-mouth, *and* still large enough to fit an ample volume of milk supply. For which YETI owns the patents but RTIC has clearly made a way cheaper version. This zero information statement about their settlement makes it sound like both may not be available indefinitely. In our experience the Yeti 1-Gallon can hold up to 70 oz (fourteen 5 oz bags) when the bags are frozen tightly into cylindrical shapes. Depending on your daily pumping volume each gallon carries 2-ish days worth of milk. Thus a week-long trip will require a few, making the cheaper RTIC 1-Gallon even more appealing.

For the long travel day to-and-fro your international destination having a smaller Yeti Half-Gallon with you on the plane, train, taxi, walk, whatever, can help keep all of your pumped milk cold while literally in transit. Far superior than the cheap lunch-box type of cooler which can barely last a work-day never mind a multi-leg, mutli-mode, 36-hour journey. There again is the cheaper RTIC Half-Gallon option too. Both are big enough capacity to hold about five to eight 5 oz bags of refrigerated milk. Sufficient to capture and collect everything from home to hotel. Also usable day-to-day if getting to-and-from a fridge every time you need to pump at work is a pain. Which it totally was for me. Shaves off at least five-minutes of time and greatly reduces the cognitive load to be able to step right out of a conference room, pump in the nearest closet, and then waltz back in. The aggregate time-saving from which can be significant.

 

Equipment-Images_v2Medela Freestyle and Spectra 9-Plus Portable an fit in the palm of your hand. Yet to try the Willow. I missed the timing. My first daughter was born in the era that I now call “before” the MIT Make the Breastpump Not Suck Hackathon. My second daughter was born shortly thereafter when only the Naya had come to market. But given that all of my pumping practices relied on the directness and portability of the Freestyle, I am an obvious fit for the Willow instead. All (not free) pumps have integrated rechargeable batteries. Too many pump users find this impressive. Why can’t the insurance coverage be a credit so that we’re driving innovation in pumps rather than distributing dated technology? As written today, does this policy even help? Freestyle uses vibration as part of the suction process to stimulate and extract. For sensitive nipples this can be comforting. But for maximum extraction at the start of production or to build supply it may struggle to be your only pump. Portability can be a trade-off in terms of speed and milk volume compared to larger hospital grade counterparts like the Spectra S1.

Thermo-Pen.pngThermoworks ThermaPen Mk4 is insanely expensive for a cooking thermometer. If you’re trying to win a BBQ competition this super accurate poke check might come in handy. The far less expensive ThermoPop drills down to the same thin split in degrees but requires you not to forget to turn it off and incidentally blow through the battery life. We temperature check the milk after a long day before freezing it. Typically the ice in the vessel will give some visual signal of chill temp but its far more gratifying to see a clear as day 33°F before sending milk off to be frozen.

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Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags are soft and rollable. These have a hermetically sealed rip-away top so that when one floats away into the bottom corner of your purse it can still be put into service. Most importantly the plastic is super flexible unlike many other brands. This allows you to easily roll the bags into cylindrical shapes in sushi rolls for freezing. Freezing the milk into “normal” rectangles will limit the carrying capacity of the vessel and leave air space which accelerates thawing. Annoyingly, the milk will not freeze directly in the vessel itself since the vessel protects the contents from surrounding temperatures (really well) even with the lid off. Milk will not freeze for days in the vessel in the freezer, especially in mass. This sounds so simple, but it took months, stubbornness, and mass milk-loss to finally admit.

Foam-BrushPortable Foam Tipped Bottle Brush for quick scrubs in hotel room sinks or office kitchens. We love it because it doesn’t come in three parts or with an entirely separate travel housing that adds to the pack-list. The foam provides a surprisingly thorough wash by bending into the corners and nooks of odd flange shapes. It glides over the commonly harsh ridges of mechanical engineering design without breaking or fraying.

 

Cooler-Shock-and-a-bag.pngCooler shock and a sturdy bag to hold it in so that you can send your ice packs to the freezer upon arriving at your international destination. Ideally the cooler shock packs are wrapped around a vessel inside that bag in order to follow the contour of the cylindrical shape which will make the cooler easier to assemble on departure day. Yes, you do need to assemble the cooler shock packs ahead of time which is like trying to fill an iron. Accept if you’re like me, you haven’t slept for a full night in months now and things like measurement and pouring accuracy have become embarrassingly inaccurate. I won’t lie, it’s a pain in the ass. But watching hours of beer cooler shoot-outs on YouTube has convinced me that the annoyance pays off. Cooler shock’s ability to hold a low temperature over a long period remains unrivaled. Also they’re thinner than big plastic packs and flexible enough to accept a contour, which means they can fit in a smaller cooler and leave more space for vessels of milk.

 

CoolerCarrying back an archive requires a high-density insulation foam cooler in a low-heat absorption color. Ideally highly reflective, like mirrored. Think space craft. Or at least a light blue or grey. Size depends entirely on how many vessels you are trying to fit. I love the AO Cooler line because they are just barely tall enough to hold the Yeti Gallon vessel standing upright so you can fit multiple in a single cooler that can be checked. The floor of the 24-can size is 10″ x  17″ which easily fits two vessels standing upright. The 36-can size is 10″ x  21″ which can fit three vessels. And the 48-can size we have not yet tried is 13″ x 21″ which could theoretically fit five vessels, we think, but getting enough ice inside is TBD. See the below diagram for all three scenarios. Vessel diameter by cooler foot-print. The 36-can size comes in the space-like mirror material which promises to hold ice for 24-hours in 120 degree weather. Gallon-Vessels-dimensions-fitting-cooler.png

 

 

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