Tips for Buying a Breast Pump
A breast pump is one of the most useful devices for a new mother whether she is planning to go back to work or simply want some rest from the continuous feeding. The biggest advantage of using a breast pump is that your baby can enjoy the health benefits of your breast milk even while you are not around.
Before buying a breast pump, it is important that you gain as much information as possible regarding the various types available so that you can buy the right type for your needs. This is very important as only the right kind of pump can ensure free flow of the milk without getting blocked ducts or an infection.
If you are planning to use a breast pump, then it is best to begin this as early as possible as many babies will show reluctance to use a bottle if introduced much later. When your baby is around 3 to 4 weeks old, start pumping and bottle feeding so that your baby gets accustomed to this. Meanwhile, you can continue to breastfeed whenever possible.
What are the different types of breast pumps?
There are different models and styles of breast pumps but all these can be broadly classified into 2 main types;
- Electric or battery operated
- Manual (to be operated by hand)
Both types have its own advantages and it is entirely upto you to buy either one of the categories or both.
- Hospital Grade Electric Pump:
This type is best suited for mothers who find it difficult to nurse or have problems with milk supply. Especially recommended if you have a premature baby or for use in the NICU. This type of pump is also used by women who have some kind of medical condition that may affect the amount of milk they produce.
The hospital grade model is a heavy duty pump which comes with a double collection kit which means that both your breasts can be pumped at the same time which not just saves time but also helps to draw milk more effectively. This pump uses a rapid suck-and-release cycle mechanism which drains milk at the same rate that your baby will nurse.
- Expensive Electric Personal Pump:
This is the best choice for working mothers and for women who cannot nurse regularly as it is both efficient and convenient to use. Women who have a normal milk supply can make the best of this pump.
Features include double pumping kit, fully automatic, rapid cycling times and adjustable suction capability to prevent discomfort. These pumps are also marketed in attractive storage cases and also include accessories like bottles, nipple cream, labels and clips. Since the pump weighs only 5 pounds or less, it is apt for women who travel a lot with their babies. The other advantage is that these can be charged using your car’s cigarette lighter by getting a special adapter or a separate battery set.
- Medium-cost manual or electric pump:
This works best for moms who want to pump only once a day or for short-term separations but do not want to give formula milk while they are away.
Priced more affordably and weighs less than 2 pounds making it a good portable breast pump. The only problem is that these pumps may take slightly longer to drain milk and you may need to put in more effort when compared to the high end models.
- Medium-range electric/battery operated breast pump:
These are affordable and battery operated for convenient use. A downside is that only one breast can be pumped at a time and hence will take longer time for you to finish pumping. There are a few models which come with double collection kits but do not expect the performance or battery life like in the top end models.
- Inexpensive Manual Breast pump:
These, like the name suggests, are for mothers who cannot afford to buy the higher end models. A piston or lever is provided using which milk will have to be pumped out one breast at a time. Usually this one is used either by women who cannot afford the other models or for those who use the pump only sparingly. Some women use it because it is simple and feels more natural mimicking a baby’s suckling.
Note – Don’t purchase the old model manual pumps which resemble a bicycle horn; these can harbor bacteria giving you an infection.
- It might be quite tempting to purchase a second hand breast pump or share one with friends but this is not recommended by experts. Breast milk can be a carrier of bacteria and viruses like cytomegalovirus, HIV etc. which can be passed from woman to the other through the use of the same pump.
Droplets of milk get accumulated inside the pump which may not get cleaned thoroughly; so even if you use a new collection kit, the pump may still not be safe for use and may give you the infection.
There are some pumps available like the hospital grade ones which are safe to be used by multiple women. This is because these pumps are designed in such a way that milk does not get into the pump and different collection kits are used for each person making it totally safe.
If you are planning on purchasing a second hand pump, then find out from the packaging or from the manufacturer if it is a single use or a multiple use design.
- If you are having a double pump but if you are using it only for drawing milk from one side, then make sure that you seal the other side which you are not using. If you do not seal, it can cause a reduction in the pump’s suction power which can lead to a decrease in your milk supply.
- Make sure that you purchase breast shields which fit you perfectly so that your nipples will not hurt.
- Ensure that the pump is cleaned well after every use using a brush, soap and warm water. Most kits contain accessories for cleaning the pump also. Residual milk inside the pump allows room for the growth of microorganisms which can give you an infection.