If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, you may be wondering if you need to purchase a breast pump — and if so, what kind do you get? With all the options on the market and a wide range of prices, how do you choose?
A breast pump will be either electric or manual (hand-powered), and single or double. Depending on your needs and how often you need to pump, you will probably find that one type suits you best. In general, you will pay more for a quicker, more efficient breast pump. Much of your selection will depend on how often you plan to be away from your baby and how much time you have for pumping.
Going back to work
If you plan to be away from your baby regularly, such as going back to work, a double electric pump is likely what you will need. Today’s higher-end pumps will express milk from both breasts quickly, similar to the rate of your baby. This means you can pump several ounces from both breasts in just a few minutes. You may need to use batteries or have an electrical outlet nearby. Many of these pumps also come with a cooler in which you store your pumped milk until you get home.
Not only will this type of pump allow you to have milk stored to feed your baby, but it will help maintain your milk supply by adequately emptying your breasts (provided you do it long enough and frequently enough, like for 15 minutes every three to four hours). If you plan to go back to work and want to continue breastfeeding, these are your best option.
A mid-range pump
If you don’t need to pump more than once a day, and don’t want to invest in a high-end double electric pump, a middle-of-the-road option is a battery powered single pump. Although these take longer to express milk, they are less expensive and can still do the job when you only need to pump on occasion. Sometimes, moms may use these in between feedings to store up some extra milk for feeding baby when they’re apart.
These models tend to be inexpensive, and because they don’t need power, they’re lightweight and portable. They usually include a mechanism that allows you to gently squeeze a lever or piston to express milk. Most will accommodate one breast at a time. Although they’re the slowest at expressing milk, they work fine if you’re only using them once in a while and aren’t crunched for time. They are handy for relieving engorgement — pump just enough to provide relief and stop. This can eliminate discomfort without stimulating more milk to come in.
Before you have your baby, think about your breast pump needs and look into the different brands and models. Once you’ve purchased one, sanitize and wash the parts according to the directions so it’s ready for you to use after baby arrives.
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