Today's breast pumps are compact, simple to set up, and efficient. We recommend that you start by deciding what your user needs will be and how much you can afford to spend. Hopefully you can find the perfect balance. For more information about using a breast pump, visit our how to use a breast pump page.
Consider the following when deciding on a breast pump:
- Effectiveness: Look for breast pumps which cycle at least 25 times per minute. Those with cycling rates below 25 are often ineffective. Breast pumps that automatically cycle tend to be more effective. The pump's suction strength is also important to know. Pressures above the high 200's can cause you pain. Ouch! Pressures below 150 are reported to be ineffective at extracting milk. Frustrating!
- Comfort: Breast pumps with the auto-cycling features are more comfortable to use. Mothers with larger or smaller breasts and/or nipples may find the one size fits all pump does not actually fit them. Guess we are unique. Repetitive action manual pumps may not be ideal for those with hand or wrist problems. Consider that the comfortable you are, the less likely you will feel like you are hooked up to a milking machine.
- Pumping Action: Single breast pumps, whether manual or battery/electric, only pump one breast at a time. Pumps that provide alternating double suction, where the suction is created on one side as it is released on the other, provide more stimulation and a faster pumping time. Simultaneous double breast pumps offer premium pump performance. They pump both breasts at the same time. Decide if speed is your priority or quality of experience. You may not get both.
- Power Options: Depending on your needs, consider a breast pump that can also run on batteries just in case you find yourself without electricity. We do have power blackouts.
- Pump Durability: Choosing a pump whose purpose and lifespan fall below your pumping frequency needs is a waste of money. A good question to ask is how many children do we plan to have? Then buy a pump to suit your long-range family needs.
- Pump Quietness: The larger the pump, the more likely that the motor will be quieter. Manual pumps are very quiet.
- Portability: Decide if you will be traveling with your breast pump. Some breast pumps are easier to transport than others.
Breast Pump Types
The Manual Breast Pump is ideal if you don't plan to return to work, or know you'll need to pump just a few times a week. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes pumping both your breasts.
The Mini Electric Breast Pump is one step up from manual pumps. Mini electric breast pumps are compact and either battery or electrically operated. This style of pump is ideal for occasional use or travel.
The Full-Size Electric Breast Pump is the most efficient and popular breast pump for working mothers. They are lightweight, easy to use and may be covered by your health insurance. Typically, a full-sized electric pump comes with a one-year warranty.
How To Use Your Breast Pump
When your milk supply is established, you may learn to express or pump your milk so that it can be left with a caregiver to give to your baby. This can provide you with some freedom from breastfeeding and a refreshing, well-deserved break.
If you are having difficulty learning how to use your pump, ask for help from other mothers, your midwife, doula, a public health nurse, lactation specialist or the breast pump manufacturers. In the beginning, give yourself lots of time to learn this new skill. If you wait until you have a pressing engagement you will only add to your stress levels. By planning ahead and taking time to learn, your experience will be more positive.
When you return to work, (school/routine) you can express milk manually or mechanically by using a breast pump before you go to work. Then your babies caregiver can bottle feed your breast milk to your infant throughout the day.
Your own breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator (for up to 48 hours) or frozen. Refrigerate or freeze breast milk in plastic bottles or bags and date them. Then warm it up in hot tap water before it is used. Using a microwave oven to thaw or warm your breast milk is not recommended.