Doctors and health professionals can't help but emphasize the importance of breastfeeding for your newborn. It not only ensures your baby receives proper nutrition but the whole experience offers a great bonding opportunity for you and the baby.
However, not all moms can be with their babies 24 hours a day, which is why you may have to invest in a breast pump. This step ensures you don't have to be on call every time you need to feed your baby. Your spouse can take over the job while you run errands or finally get some uninterrupted sleep.
What Is A Breast Pump
A breast pump allows nursing moms to pump and store breast milk in advance, which allows the baby to experience the benefits of breastfeeding even if the mother's not around. Breast pumps are handy for new moms who want to get back to work however stay-home mothers can also benefit from these pumps.
Why Do Women Use Breast Pumps
Breast pumps are handy for the following reasons:
When Is The Best Time To Buy A Breast Pump
Some parents like to be prepared and get all their shopping done before the baby's arrival. If you're planning on going back to work, then you'll need to invest in a breast pump a few weeks before your maternity leave ends.
If you're not so sure about how much you'll be using the pump, we suggest you wait till you have developed a healthy milk supply. Mothers who don't intend on leaving their little ones behind for too long can benefit from a manual breast pump.
When Should Women Start Pumping Milk
Some women begin pumping milk soon after the baby is born, which helps build milk supply in case the mother wants to go back to work. However, most experts feel it's best to wait before introducing a bottle to the baby.
Introducing a bottle too early may cause "nipple confusion," which happens when the baby starts preferring a bottle over breastfeeding.
Mothers are advised to start pumping weeks before their maternity leave ends. Similar to any parental skill, learning how to use a breast pump requires time and patience.
Additionally, the body will require plenty of time to get accustomed to the pump. In fact, it may take you a few days to finally pump milk without your baby's help while the baby may also need some time to get accustomed to the change.
Types Of Breast Pumps
To make the task easier, here are the different types of breast pumps:
Electric breast pumps an excellent choice for moms who need to pump milk regularly. Working mommies prefer using electric pumps since it allows them to express more milk in a relatively short period.
Mothers who want to increase milk supply can also opt for electric pumps. Additionally, using a double pump model can significantly decrease pumping time.
On the downside, electric breast pumps typically require more maintenance and can be bulk to carry around. Fortunately, many manufacturers have worked to create lightweight, portable pumps that don’t produce as much noise. For added convenience, some models can now also be operated using batteries.
Sure, electric pumps can be more expensive compared to manual models, but they are certainly worth the investment. Ensure you purchase a product that comes with some storage or carry case to prevent the expressed milk from spoiling.
How Does It Work
As the name indicates, these pumps require an external power source and a power cord to function. It offers more advanced features such as a timer, LCD screen, nightlight and multiple expression modes.
Above all, electric pumps have greater suction strength compared to most manual pumps. The only drawback is that these pumps weigh and typically cost more.
Manual pumps are a suitable option for moms who plan on pumping infrequently. What's best is that these pumps are compact and can conveniently fit inside purses and diaper bags. Another notable benefit is that you can purchase manual pumps at an affordable price.
The only downside is that these pumps are not as effective as electric models. Many new moms start off by using manual pumps until they can determine how long they plan on breastfeeding their baby.
While these pumps offer new mommies complete control over the speed and suction of the pump, you may grow tired while pumping milk since the process requires hand power.
How Does It Work
This kind of pump does not have an external power source and requires moms to use hand power to pump milk. Since manual pumps do not feature an external power source, you don’t have to worry about carrying around extra weight.
These pumps tend to be lightweight and portable. The only downside is that the pump offers reduced suction power and expresses less milk.
Hospital Grade Pumps
The term "hospital grade" is more of a marketing gimmick than a medical requirement. These pumps typically refer to advanced high-end double pumps which can be used by multiple women. Unlike pumps designed for personal use, hospital breast pumps are powerful enough to express milk 8 or more times in one day.
These pumps feature closed systems, which means there is minimal chance of contamination if multiple users are using the pump. They are also more powerful as compared to personal breast pumps and offer better suction and speed. On the downside, hospital grade breast pumps are typically more expensive than other types.
Double Breast Pump
These pumps allow mothers to express milk from both breasts simultaneously, significantly reducing pumping time. Double Electric Breast Pumps are a great option for moms with twins or busy mommies who want to cut down time on pumping milk.
Hospital grade double breast pumps are typically the most expensive options out there. The pumps are also great for moms who want to maintain milk supply.
Single Breast Pumps
Single breast pumps are the most popular choice among new moms. As the name indicates, these pumps allow mothers to express milk from one breast, which is a suitable choice for you if your baby has not developed much of an appetite or moms who don’t need to bottle up too much milk.
These pumps are easier to use and are more portable, resulting in easy carry. The only notable downside is that you won’t be able to express as much milk as with a double pump.
Factors To Consider When Using A Breast Pump
Here are a couple of basic factors you should consider when purchasing a breast pump:
With the birth of your newborn, you're probably struggling with some expenses. However, we do not suggest you invest in a cheap, low-quality product as it won't offer the best results.
Additionally, avoid renting or sharing breast pumps since it can potentially spread many diseases unless you are using a hospital-grade pump that is suitable for multiple users. If you don't want to spend big bucks right away, start off with a manual breast pump.
Once you have evaluated your schedule and your baby's needs, you can purchase a more high-end electric model. Your health insurance may also cover the pump.
Do you plan on going back to work after the baby is born? If so, you’ll need a portable breast pump so that you can transport the pump around without any inconveniences. Ensure the design isn't too bulky or too complicated to assemble. Buying a simple manual breast pump is a good option if you don't intend on expressing milk frequently.
Volume Of Milk
How frequently do you plan on using the pump? Some breast pumps are designed for regular use whereas others are best suited for occasional use. Determining how much milk you will require will help you decide whether you should opt for an electric or manual model.
Single Vs. Double Pump Models
New moms will agree that pumping breast milk can be an uncomfortable and time-consuming process, especially if you're still getting the hang of motherhood. If you want to save time, invest in a pump that expresses milk from both breasts simultaneously.
Easy To Clean
Ensure the breast pump does not have any complicated parts and is easy to put together. Reading complex instructions can make the process seem stressful which isn't good for the mother's health.
Invest in a breast pump that is easy to clean and requires minimal maintenance, which will help you save more time which you can spend with the baby.
We have already discussed how you can choose between a manual or electric breast pump. To avoid problems in the event of a power breakdown, we suggest you invest in an electric model that can also use battery power.
Realistically speaking, you may not always have access to a power cord, so a battery powered pump is a good option. Store a manual pump in a drawer at work or in your car for potential emergencies if you want to take special precautions.
The same strength and suction won't be suitable for every woman. Ensure you have invested in a breast pump that has an adjustable suction setting, which will allow you to modify the setting according to your needs.
How To Use A Breast Pump
In this section, we will provide you a detailed guide on how to use a breast pump. Do note that you should read the instructions that come with the pump carefully, regardless of its model. Here's everything you need to know:
Using A Manual Breast Pump
Follow these steps:
- Start by reading the instructions carefully. Once you have familiarized yourself with the model, you should wash your hands.
- Ensure all parts of the breast pump clean, which is crucial for the safety of your baby.
- Look for a quiet spot where you can relax. Start thinking about feeding your baby, which may trigger the hormones to release milk.
- Place the breast shield, securing it on the nipple.
- Start pumping. It may take a few minute for the milk to start flowing and maintain a steady flow.
- Once the milk starts flowing, adjust the pumping rate so that it is similar to a baby’s natural feeding motions.
- Switch breasts after a few minutes. Ensure that both breasts receive 15 minutes of stimulation. Don’t be surprised if one breast produces more milk as this is quite common.
- After you have pumped enough milk, remove the shield.
- To prevent any contamination, unscrew the bottle and cover it with a cap.
- Clean up afterward using warm soapy water.
- Separate the pieces of the pump, allowing it to air-dry.v
- While you can leave the milk out at room temperature for about six hours, most women like to refrigerate it. Breast milk and be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days without any problems.
Using An Electric Breast Pump
Follow these simple instructions:
- Before opening the box, read the instructions carefully and familiarize yourself with the particular model.
- Similar to using a hand pump, ensure your hands are clean and the pump is spick and span.
- Search for a quiet spot where you can relax and assemble the parts of the pump.
- Start thinking about your baby to trigger the hormones, which will aid the release of breast milk. Remember to sit calmly and relax as stress can affect the milk supply.
- Position the assembled breast shield and adjust them as required. Ensure the shield is placed directly over the nipple or else there can be problems with suction.
- Now switch on the machine, Wait for a minute or two to maintain a steady flow. Some high-end models may start to adjust the speed. If the machine does not automatically adjust the setting, we suggest you adjust it according to your comfort. Opt for speed or a setting that is comfortable and yields the most results. Pumping must not be painful so be careful.
- Use the time to listen to music, check your emails or look out the window. For some new mommies, monitoring the milk flow too closely can affect milk flow.
- Once the milk flow has started to slow down, you can switch off the breast pump.
- Remove the shields and unscrew the milk bottle. To prevent contamination, place a cap on the bottle.
- Use warm soapy water to clean yourself and the pump afterward
- Allow the pump’s pieces to air dry.
- You can keep the milk at room temperature for about 4 to 6 hours. You can also refrigerate or freeze the milk according to your use.
Tips For Using A Breast Pump
Becoming a new mom can be an overwhelming process which can quickly take a toll on the mother's health and overall confidence in her abilities.If you haven’t used a breast pump before, here are a few tips that will make the process much easier:
Get Plenty Of Practice
Similar to other parental skills, using a breast pump requires time and practice to get comfortable. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust since most women are not likely to receive much milk in the first few sessions.
Practice pumping before a week before you need to regularly start pumping, which will help you maintain a heavy flow. We advise you start pumping right after your baby feeds, which will signal the body to supply more milk.
Stick To The Baby’s Schedule
To ensure there is steady milk supply, try to pump milk as often as possible. Similar to nursing, it is crucial you stick to the schedule. If you are unable to do this, at least pump milk 3 or 4 times during the day.
Ensure you dress comfortably. If you are pumping milk somewhere semi-public, ensure you have a blanket to give yourself some privacy. You can also opt for a hands-free pump, which is beneficial for women who are working at their desk.
Top Manufactures For The Best Breast Pumps
Here are some of the top manufacturers in the industry:
Medela is among the most popular brands when it comes to promoting the health of mothers and the new born baby. The brand specializes in manufacturing breastfeeding products, ranging from nursing clothes to breast pumps. For the mother's benefit, the brand also offers numerous resources and information about breastfeeding.
Medela works hard to cover all the needs of new breastfeeding mothers. You will also find products that are suitable for breastfeeding premature babies. Medela’s beast pumps use the highest quality materials.
Spectra is another well-known brand that is popular more manufacturing quality breast pumps. Similar to other companies, Spectra also focuses on the importance of breast feeding for both the mother and the baby.
For maximum benefits, the brand works with a team of Lactation Consultants to help create the best accessories on the market. The breast pumps are designed to mimic the natural nursing pattern of the baby.
Lansinoh came into existence over 30 years ago when Resheda Hagen, breastfeeding mom reluctantly considered weaning off her baby as breastfeeding her newborn was now too painful.
Her husband, a doctor recommended she start applying lanolin to ease the pain. Fortunately, the cream brought instant relief.
The family then started packaging the cream on their own to help other breast feeding mothers. Over the years, the brand has expanded its selection and now sells many breast feeding products in the market.
Philips AVENT is an England based company that is known for manufacturing breast pumps, baby feeding products, bottles and other health accessories.
Over the years, the brand caters to many new moms who are in search of high-quality products.
Maintenance And Cleaning Breast Pumps
Most pumps come with a separate set of instructions for cleaning. Manual models are easier to clean since you can simply take the pieces apart. Regardless of the model, you opt for, here are a few basic instructions you should follow to clean the breast pump:
- Once you have finished expressing milk, disconnect the tubes and remove the breast shields
- Allow the pump to keep running for a minute or two once you're done, which helps dry the machine.
- After the machine is dry, switch it off and carefully disassemble the parts.
- Rinse the parts in cool water to wash away any residue.
- Use warm, soapy water to wash the breast pump. You may also use dish detergent or a more specialized product. Some brands offer special milk removal soap.
- Air-dry the parts before putting them back.
- Reassemble the parts for next use.
Similar to sanitizing the bottle, you can also sanitize the parts of the breast pump. You can do this by placing the parts in boiling water. Some brands also offer specialized steam bags to aid the process. Don't forget to clean the pump after each use. This step is important for the safety of your child.
Hopefully, this detailed guide has provided you all the information you need to know about breast pumps. If you are in the hunt for the best product, don’t forget to check out our detailed buyer’s guide. Good luck!