We will give you some insights on the selection of breast pumps available…
You made the choice to breastfeed your baby and you finally got the nursing part down pat but you’re a little nervous about using a breast pump. Plus honestly, you probably have no idea as to even how to choose the right breast pump, let alone how to use it properly! We will give you some insights on the selection of breast pumps available as well as cover some basics on how to use them.
Functions of a Breast Pump
A breast pump is a medical device which is regulated by the FDA and designed to extract breast milk from nursing mothers. It can also be used to maintain a mother’s milk supply, relieve clogged milk ducts, and help pull out inverted or flat nipples so a newborn can more easily latch on for nursing.
Why would I need to use a breast pump?
There are many reasons a woman would choose to use a breast pump. Here are some of the most common.
- Pumping to avoid having to supplement with formula when you are unable to nurse.
- Allow other family members to feed the baby.
- You need to return to work.
- For some reason your infant is unable to nurse properly.
- Create a supply for emergencies.
- Give you a chance for relaxation or relief from sore nipples or engorged breasts.
Should I buy a manual or electric breast pump?
Once you decide that you in fact want to purchase a breast pump, you have to decide whether you want to buy a manual (hand-held) or electric breast pump. There are pros and cons for both, but ultimately the choice is yours.
Manual Breast Pump
Many women choose a manual breast pump over electric simply because they are smaller, more lightweight and easier to use. If you are only pumping occasionally, you might want to opt for a manual pump. They are usually more affordable than an electric pump . A lot of women agree that a manual breast pump more closely mimics the feel of a baby nursing than an electric pump and they prefer the feeling of having more personal control with a manual pump.
Pros And Cons of Manual Breast Pumps
- less expensive and no additional cost after purchase.
- easier to clean as there are fewer parts
- lightweight and compact
- quiet and easy to use
- can take more time than an electric pump
- repetitive pumping can be exhausting on your hands
- may be difficult to get into a regular rhythm
How Do I Use A Manual Breast Pump?
First you need to assemble your pump. It will come with instructions, but if you are having difficulty, there are plenty of how-to videos available online. Next you need to thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands and find a comfortable spot to sit while pumping. Place the suction cup over your breast and squeeze the handle to create flow that will then stimulate milk flow. You may need two hands until you get used to it, but eventually you will be able to pump with one-hand without a second thought. It takes about 30-45 minutes to manually pump your breasts to get an adequate milk supply.
Will I Need Additional Supplies?
A manual breast pump should come with the following accessories and you can always find additional or replacement items if needed.
- bottles and nipples
- breast pump stand
- carry bag
- breast pads
- massage cup and/or cushion
Electric Breast Pump
If you find that you are going to be expressing milk more often, you should opt for an electric breast pump. You should definitely consider an electric pump if you are returning to work or have twins or multiples. Most lactation specialists will tell you that an electric pump is better as it operates faster and leaves your hands free to tend to your newborn. It also draws milk out more effectively.
Pros and Cons of an Electric Breast Pump
- great for frequent pumping, including multiple times a day
- may have adjustable speed and suction settings
- many of the newer models also have battery options as well
- more choices than manual, such as hospital grade pumps and double-breasted pumps
- more expensive than a manual breast pump.
- harder to clean and sterilize
- less portable
- slower cycling time
- batteries and motor may need to be frequently replaced
- if your pump is not battery operated you will need access to a power source in order to use your pump
How Do I Use An Electric Breast Pump?
As with a manual pump, you would follow the instructions to assemble your electric breast pump, wash and sanitize your hands and find a comfortable place to begin pumping. You would then apply a breast shield over your nipple, start the machine and let the pump do the rest. It only takes about 15 minutes to pump both breasts.
What Additional Equipment Will I Need?
Most electric breast pumps should come with the following items, but you may have to purchase replacement or additional parts or equipment
- bottles and nipples
- breast shield
- power cord and a/c adapter
- batteries and charger (on some models)
- carry bag
- nursing pads
- massage cup
How Do I Store My Breast Milk?
Any time you are going to be handling expressed milk, you should properly wash and sanitize your hands. The expressed milk should be stored in a sanitized clean glass or hard plastic BPA-free bottle or container.There are also special plastic bags sold specifically for milk storage and collection. These may damage easily, however, so it is a good idea to store these bags in a sealed plastic or glass container.
Expressed breast milk can then be stored at room temperature for 4-6 hours; insulated cooler for up to 24 hours; refrigerated storage for 4-5 days and deep freezer for 6-12 months.
Now that you have some basic information on the types of breast pumps as well as how to use them and how to store your breast milk, you can make an educated decision as to which breast pump is best for you.