Whether you are going back to work; want to be able to get time away from baby to take care of yourself, run errands, or spend time with dad; or planning to pump exclusively, the breast pump can be an invaluable tool. Using a breast pump is also a great way to help increase your breast milk supply. While you are able to rent one from your local hospital, they can be bulky and heavy. If you are going to be breast pumping frequently, especially if you are going back to work, you may want to consider purchasing a breast pump. However, you may have some questions. Where do you buy a breast pump? There are so many different styles and types. Manual pumps, electric pumps, single pumps, double pumps. Some have breast milk storage systems, some don’t. Some have removable battery packs, some don’t. Some weigh less than others do and some come in convenient carrying cases. Which breast pump is better? Which is right for you?
You can buy manual breast pumps and some electric pumps at most places that sell baby supplies. There are also many private suppliers and online suppliers. If you have trouble finding a breast pump talk to a lactation consultant and she can tell you where to get a pump to suite your needs. The top brand names in pumps are Medela, Ameda, Avent, and Bailey Medical, so if you really need a quality pump, it is recommended that you go with one of these brands. There are two main classes of pumps: manual pumps and electric (or battery-powered) pumps.
Manual pumps work well for some women and some women prefer these to electric pumps. They are lighter and easier to carry and they are less expensive than their electric counterparts. Manual pumps are great for women who have an ample supply of breast milk as it can be more difficult to obtain milk from pumping manually and it can be difficult to empty your breasts completely which can lead to a decreased breast milk supply. They may be the best choice for someone who does not need to pump often, yet has an ample breast milk supply so that breast pumping is not difficult.
While some women like being able to control the pumping action themselves with the manual pump, other women find their hands get tired out from pumping continuously. Most manual pumps must be operated with two hands, but there are models that are made for one-handed operation. This may be preferable for you.
There is a wide range of electric or battery-powered pumps available. The lower-end electric or battery-powered pumps are generally designed to pump only one breast at a time and they often have a suction that is not adjustable and is either too strong or too weak. It is important to use caution when considering this type of pump as it can hurt your breasts or cause discomfort while pumping. These breast pumps generally need their batteries changed often and may be more trouble than they are worth.
A mid-range electric pump may be more practical for your purposes. They are very easy to transport and generally are able to pump both breasts at the same time. While they have an adjustable suction, pumping takes a little longer with these pumps as they have medium cycling times, but unless you pump during breaks or lunch at work or are otherwise pressed for time, this may be all you need.
Let’s face it. If you are a mom who is going back to work full-time and who will be pumping 2-3 times per day, often during breaks and lunch, then efficiency is the name of the game and the top-of-the-line pumps may be your only option. You will need something that is easy to transport, easy to set up, and easy to clean and something that offers a storage solution for the milk that you pump through the day. Make sure the user’s guide is straightforward and easy to read. It is also important to consider the size of the breast shield. If your nipples or breasts hurt during breast pumping, it may be that the size of the breast shield is too small. You can always contact the manufacturer and have them send you a large, extra-large, or soft shield, which will make pumping more comfortable for you.
If being discreet is important, you will also need to consider the level of noise the breast pump makes and test this out before you make your decision. High-end models have quick cycling times, adjustable suction, and are made with dual pumping capability. They generally come in attractive carrying cases and many of them include battery packs. There are also pumps that mimic the changing sucking patterns of your baby. There are even hands free pumps available that are designed to tuck into your bra for discreet use. This can be ideal when you are at work, especially if you are in an environment where privacy or time is an issue, or where support for the pumping and breastfeeding mother is not as high as it could and should be.
It is important to consider your needs and your lifestyle when deciding what type of pump to purchase. If you are going out for dinner once a month with your husband and baby is staying with grandma and grandpa, then it is probably not worth your while to drop $300 on a dual-capability electric pump. One the other hand, if you are pumping to feed your baby five days a week while you are at work, then you need something more efficient than a $50 manual pump.
Weigh your options, do your comparison-shopping, and get what feels right for you. After all, when all is said and done they are your breasts and you need to go with your own comfort level. And remember, you are choosing to pump because you want to give your baby the very best start in life you have to offer. So, get out there and start pumping.