A breast pump that fits your anatomy and helps you meet the unique demand of your lifestyle would definitely be an excellent investment for your pumping journey.
Here are a few things to consider when weighing your options.
The purpose of milk expression determines how often you pump. Some moms want to pump early to stimulate milk production for their babies, while others may want to build more supply to stock up. Different types of breast pumps are designed to meet these different needs.
Early stimulation or occasional pressure relief from unfed breasts can do with a manual pump or a portable battery-powered pump. On the other hand, heavy use electric pumps are recommended to maintain and stock up milk — their motor and suction power is more powerful and durable for frequent usage.
Generally, you need to pump as long as your normal nursing session. And if your baby usually drinks from both breasts, it would save a lot of time to choose a pump that allows you to pump from both breasts at once.
Electric or manual
Electric pumps are automated suction pumps that run on either battery or electricity. Manual pumps, on the other hand, have to be maneuvered physically with your hands. The option you choose depends on how much time and energy you have for expressing your milk. If you are expressing just to relieve engorgement from time to time — but wish to keep those milk for later use — you may find manual pumps suitable.
However, if you run short on time or energy and want to multitask during your pumping sessions, electric pumps or battery-powered ones will meet your needs. But expectedly, they cost more than manual pumps.
Not all electric pumps are created equal. Different types and brands of breast pumps have additional features that tailor to particular needs. Some offer an initial special suction feature that mimics a baby’s initial sucking to stimulate milk let-down before automatically switching to full-on feeding power. Also, many offer the ability to adjust the speed and power of the suction, pre-programmed functions, and timing features. Always study product specifications or ask the product provider to recommend a model that suits your pumping needs.
If you are mostly on the go and your child doesn’t accompany you, a portable pump that runs on a battery would be ideal. Make sure you check with the product’s specifications on how long the battery can last so you don’t run out of battery in the middle of your successive pumping sessions.
On the other hand, plug-in electric pumps are ideal if you are primarily at home with your baby but prefer to build up stock or are exclusively expressing milk. They are usually bigger and heavier but are more powerful and durable than portable ones.
A few other points to keep in mind
While the considerations mentioned above are important in deciding the proper breast pump, there are a few other points to keep in mind.
- Breast shield sizes: You need to choose the right size that matches your breasts to avoid cracked nipples. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for ways to find the right breast shield size for your breast.
- Maintenance: Spare parts should be easily ordered if you happen to lose small pieces during cleaning. The pumps should be easily disassembled for cleaning as well.
- Sounds: If you have to use an electric pump in a public space, it might be a good idea to choose pumps that make less noise.
- Secondhand: Be wary when buying secondhand breast pumps from other moms. They may not have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, so they pose risks of infection and cross-contamination.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (OB-GYN) (10 November 2021)