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A Simple Guide to Choosing the Best Breast Pump

Marc Kaplan


Among all the daunting tasks that meet a mother after her baby is born, breastfeeding is one of them. Even though breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the first six months of a baby's life, some women may need assistance.

Choosing the best breast pump is different for everyone. Each mom shares her own unique challenges to how breastfeeding fits into her lifestyle.

Don't let being overwhelmed rob you from the joy of being a mom. Read on for some tips on how to choose a breast pump.

Why Choose A Breastpump?

Breastpumps offer many advantages and can be used for occasional or regular use. A pump may interest you for the following reasons:

  • Your baby has difficulty latching on
  • You and your baby will be apart due to work or other commitments
  • You need to increase your milk production

Whatever the reason, there is a pump that fits your needs.

Types of Pumps And When to Use Them

Evaluate the reasons you will be pumping and consider these two types of pumps.

Electric or Battery Powered

Electric or Battery powered pumps are chosen by most mothers who will spend time separated from their baby, who desire to increase their milk supply, or who are exclusively pumping. These pumps offer changeable levels of suction for comfort and allow you to pump in tandem. Some models have a feature that mimics the baby's initial letdown response.

Easily portable and light (about 5 pounds), electric or battery powered pumps come with a variety of accessories such as battery packs for when you're short an electrical outlet, storage bags, tubes, and more. An electric adaptor comes with some pumps so a mom-on-the-run can pump in the car.

A quality electric pump runs about $300 and some even carry lengthy warranties.

Hospital-grade pumps are recommended to moms having difficulty breastfeeding. Most likely, if you have a medical condition or if your baby is in the NICU, lactation consultants will point you to a hospital grade pump. More powerful and bulky than an electric pump, they drain breasts more efficiently by letting you double pump.

Manual Pumps

Manual pumps are perfect for short-term separations or pumping occasionally, usually a couple times a week. Compared to the electric pump manual pumps are more affordable, convenient, have better control over the suction, and lighter weighing in at about 2 pounds.

They work to express milk by pushing down on a lever to generate suction and empty milk into a bottle. Unlike electric pumps, most manual pumps are single pump only, since you need both hands to express. However, there are a few on the market that makes dual pumping possible.

A possible downside to a manual pump is it requires more work of the mom, versus the electric pump which does the work for you. This lack of power can cause the breasts to not drain well, possibly reducing milk supply. They also more time-consuming.

The warranty of a manual pump is shorter than an electric, anywhere from 30-90 days.

The Reputation of The Brand

If at all possible, choose a brand that specializes in breastfeeding pumps and not accessories or other products. These companies understand the immediate and unique needs of the breastfeeding and pumping mother and cater to them accordingly. Find a brand or a company with several years of experience and who've solidified themselves as a well-known name in the field.

Once you've narrowed down your possibilities, begin comparing and contrasting the pumps they provide. Make sure you know when and how you will be using the pump before making a decision. Do some research or talk to a lactation consultant about your situation and look at their recommendations.

To Buy or to Rent?

The choice to buy or rent a breast pump is a personal one.

If you're planning to purchase a breast pump, a quality electric pump runs about $300 and some even carry lengthy warranties. A manual pump is significantly lower, around $50 with a shorter warranty, and a hospital grade pump around $1,000.

There are certain advantages to buying a pump. Mothers who are planning to breastfeed long-term - longer than six months - will find purchasing a pump to be more economical than renting. Keep in mind, once you own the pump you're able to use it for other children.

Choosing to rent a pump is helpful if you plan on nursing short-term, or if you're having trouble nursing. In this case, renting a hospital grade pump is sufficient.

The FDA recognizes breast pumps as a medical device, so rental prices will vary according to different insurance plans. A normal price range is $1-3 a day, or $50 a month. Be sure to verify costs with your insurance company before moving forward with a rental.

You can get information about renting a pump at your local pharmacy or hospital.

Accessories Anyone?

There's an abundance of accessories that accompany a breast pump, though you may not need them all. Here's some to consider:

  • A well-fitted breast shield
  • Accessory wipes for on-the-go cleaning
  • Extra tubing
  • Bottles with lids or plastic bags for storing milk
  • Labels for dating milk
  • Cooling pack for proper storage

A Few Do's And Don'ts

Breast pumps are handy for mothers, but there are some safety concerns.

Never buy a used pump. The cost may be enticing and your friend might insist, but breast milk carries viruses and bacteria that can harm the pump. Milk can potentially enter the pump and be passed on to your baby, leading to an infection.

A single-user pump is the safest route, but the exception to this is the hospital grade and rental pumps, which are designed for multiple users.

Make sure you use the right size breast shield for comfort. Not doing so leads to sore breast and nipples and the breast being insufficiently emptied.

Clean the parts after using them. Washing and rinsing them in warm soapy water is best. However, avoid washing the tubing unless breastmilk enters them.

The Best Breast Pump is The One For You

Choosing the best breast pump shouldn't be difficult! You should feel confident in whichever breast pump you choose and that you're doing the best for you and your baby.

Start considering how pumping will fit into your life and begin your research today to find the pump that best fits your needs.

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