Can I Pump and Drive?

Person assembling breast pump.

Getty Images / Karl Tapales

Whether you're a working or stay-at-home parent, pumping breastmilk is not always the easiest task. Maybe you're constantly trying to get a few ounces during your lunch break, or you're forced to pump while fending off your toddler's meltdown over the wrong color sippy cup.

Either way, trying to find a quiet, private place to pump isn't always possible, which is why some parents are taking their breast pumps on the road. Pumping while driving is becoming much more common among parents, and the reason is simple: efficiency.

"It's just practical," says Diana West, an international board certified lactation consultant, author, and former director of media relations for La Leche League International with over 20 years of experience. "Time spent driving can be used to pump. This is especially important to working [parents] who often have to hit the road running as soon as they get to work and may not have another chance to pump for several hours."

This begs the question: is pumping while driving safe? How can parents make use of its efficiency without endangering themselves or other drivers?

Here, we'll dive a little deeper into the logistics and safety of pumping breastmilk behind the wheel, and whether it's the right option for you.

Is It Legal to Pump and Drive?

While there is no law that specifically addresses pumping breastmilk while driving, many states do prohibit the use of handheld devices, such as cell phones.

And this is where it gets tricky: pumping while driving is not explicitly illegal, but distracted driving certainly is. According to Jessica Cowardin, Public Relations and Media Liaison for the Virginia DMV, "Drivers taking their eyes off the road was the number one cause of distracted driving crashes in Virginia [in 2021]."

Before using your pump in the car, be sure to check the laws in your specific area to ensure you are properly following them.

Is It Safe to Pump and Drive?

When it comes to the safety of pumping and driving, there is one undisputable truth: your focus needs to be on the road.

"We know [parents] are so busy, and multitasking is often necessary to get through the day’s tasks," says Cowardin. "However, behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is one place where [the] focus needs to be centered solely on one task: driving."

So, is it possible to pump a few ounces during your drive while focusing on the road? West provides her perspective: "I have come to believe that it can be an excellent strategy for collecting more milk and keeping the milk supply strong, [but only] if basic safety precautions are taken." 

If you are going to pump and drive, it is essential that, while the car is in motion, your hands are on the steering wheel—not the breast pump. The key, says West, is to start the pump before putting the car in drive and not touch it again until you park.

How to Pump and Drive

If you are determined to express milk while driving, an electric pumpnever a manual pump—should be used. You should also use a hands-free pumping bra.

It is also important to put on your seatbelt before assembling the pump. You can place the pump in the passenger's seat to keep it out of the way, as long as the tubes reach comfortably.

West provides a few tips for maximizing your safety while pumping and driving:

  • Connect the pump, turn it on, and start pumping before you begin driving
  • If you need to adjust the pump, or if the bottles are full, always pull over and park before addressing the issue
  • Ensure that no aspect of pumping distracts you or forces you to take your eyes off the road

To avoid spilling any full bottles (every pumping parent's nightmare!), make sure your cup holder is empty and, most importantly, wiped clean. You should also have a storage bag handy for your pump parts.

If you are going to be in the car for a long period of time, it's a good idea to pack a cooler to store your milk in to prevent spoilage. Of course, make sure you pull over and put the car in park before handling bottles or detaching them from the pump.

How to Handle Others’ Reactions

There may be times when other drivers catch a glimpse of your pumping session—and the reactions might not always be positive.

If you're bothered by the idea of others witnessing your pumping, West suggests arranging the pumps beneath your shirt. Of course, much like breastfeeding in public, you should do whatever makes you feel comfortable—and it's never your responsibility to manage the reactions' of others.

If you're still dealing with disapproving looks, the best thing to do is ignore them! That stoplight won't last long, and you should feel confident that you're doing what is best for you and your baby at that moment.

What If You Get Pulled Over?

Seeing those flashing lights in your rearview mirror is never a fun scenario, especially if you've been pumping while driving. That said, there's no need to panic!

"Honesty is always the best policy," says West. Provided no laws are being broken, you can explain to the police officer that you already set up your breast pump before hitting the road and have no plans to touch it until you arrive at your destination.

How to Know if Pumping While Driving Is Right For You

To put things into perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that sending or reading a text at 55 miles per hour is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. This is significant—and looking down at or adjusting a breast pump can be just as risky.

You know yourself best! If you are unable to drive without becoming easily distracted, pumping while driving might not be the safest option for you. "Even if a driver is using a hands-free device, there are still dangers involved when not fully concentrating on the road," says Cowardin.

If you cannot resist the urge to constantly check your pump, are excessively drowsy (as many parents are!), or have a medical condition that may impair your driving, you should avoid pumping while driving.

That said, many parents are able to successfully navigate pumping on the road, but only if proper safety precautions are taken. Working parents can especially benefit from the convenience it provides. " I definitely see the upside of getting in another pumping session that might otherwise not happen at work," says West.

A Word from Verywell

Whether pumping while driving is a new concept for you, or you've become a pro at it, there is no denying that it is a much-needed time saver for busy parents! If you believe it is the right option for you, the key is to completely ignore the pump while driving. Get yourself buckled, set up, and ready to go before hitting the road, and remember to pull over and park before removing bottles or adjusting or unhooking the pump.

In the busy world of parenting, finding ways to save time is essential—just make sure you're doing it safely!

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Governor's Highway Safety Association. Distracted Driving.

  2. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Distracted Driving.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Distracted Driving.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowsy Driving.

  5. Driver Knowledge Tests. Can you drive with a medical condition?

By Alex Vance
Alex Vance is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from pregnancy and parenting to health and wellness. She is a former news and features writer for and Blog Writer for The HOTH. Her motherhood-related pieces have been published on Scary Mommy, Motherhood Understood, and Thought Catalog.