If you are planning on using a breast pump after your little one is born, more than likely you’ve looked at the different types available at a baby supply store or through an online search. There are a wide-variety of different models available on the market, which each have different features and accessories. It can be easy to be overwhelmed at what pump is the best for you. These tips will help you decide the best breast pump for you and your baby.
How to Know if You Will Need a Breast Pump
Many expecting moms think that they only need a breast pump if they are going to go back to work full time. Even if you are only planning to work part-time or are expecting to stay at home with your new little one, a breast pump can still help you as you nurse your little one. You may need a breast pump if:
- Your little one was born prematurely
- Your baby has developmental challenges that make breastfeeding difficult
- You have flat or inverted nipples
- Your baby has a tongue or lip tie
- You want to increase your milk supply
- You are planning on going back to work part-time or full-time
- You want to have others occasionally feed your little one while you go out or sleep
Different Types of Breast Pumps Available
Manual Breast Pumps
Manual or hand-operated pumps are breast pumps that express milk via either a cylinder or a handle squeeze mechanism. Cylinder hand-operated pumps are designed with two cylinders, one resting in the other, with a plastic gasket in-between the cylinders. The pump is operated by pushing one cylinder in-and-out, which creates suction. Handle squeeze manual pumps create suction by using a handle that is squeezed and released.
Manual pumps are quiet, portable, small and lightweight. They are a good option if you are only planning on occasionally pumping (no more than once per day).
Personal Electric Breast Pumps
Personal electric breast pumps are fully automatic, have varying cycle times to mimic a baby’s natural sucking pattern and have different levels of suction. Electric pumps typically cycle between 40 and 60 cycles per minute, which closely mimics a baby’s natural sucking cycle of 50 to 90 per minute.
Electric breast pumps are the best option if you are planning on pumping more than once per day, are trying to increase your milk supply, want to make a stockpile of milk for future use or are returning to work full-time. They come in both single and double models and can be operated with either batteries or an AC adapter.
Hospital Grade Breast Pumps
Hospital grade pumps are heavy-duty, multiple-user pumps that most closely resemble a baby’s natural sucking pattern. These pumps can be either rented or used at the hospital. They are best for moms who have a baby in the NICU or are having challenges making enough milk due to a medical condition in the mom or the baby. You will need to purchase your own milk collection kit in order to use a hospital-grade pump.
Breast Pump Features to Consider
Single versus Double Pumps
Each breast takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to empty with a breast pump. With a single breast pump, this means that each session will take 20 to 30 minutes total. Double breast pumps can be slightly more difficult to operate but can cut down your pumping time.
Closed versus Open Systems
Open system pumps don’t have a barrier between the pump mechanism and the collection kit, which makes it possible for air contaminants to be drawn into the system and into your little one’s milk. Closed systems have a barrier that prevents contaminants from entering the milk and the tubing, which eliminates having to clean and sterilize the tubing after each use. All Ameda pumps offer an FDA-approved closed-system barrier to keep your milk free of outside contaminants.
Battery-Operated versus Electric
Many pumps allow you to either use batteries or an AC adapter in order to provide your pump power to operate. Battery-powered pumps make it possible to pump if you lose electricity or if you pump in a location without electricity, but are also slower than models with AC adapters. Many new models will allow you to plug your pump into your car, making it easy to pump while driving or on your lunch break.
Accessories that Can Make Pumping Easier
Look for the following accessories, available with your pump or for purchase, which can make pumping easier:
- Varying sizes of flanges, which can make pumping easier and less painful for women with smaller or larger breasts
- Wipes to quickly clean your pump while on-the-go
- Vehicle adaptors to pump while in your car
- Cooler with ice packs to keep milk at the appropriate temperature when away from the refrigerator
- Milk bags or extra bottles for storing milk
- Nipple shields to help draw out flat or inverted nipples
What You Need to Know About Free Insurance-Provided Breast Pumps
The American Care Act (ACA) mandates that most insurance companies provide a breast pump, pump supplies and visits with a lactation consultant in order to help provide breast milk for your little one. The different models of breast pump provided by your insurance company will depend on you and your little one’s needs. Complete our three-step form to instantly see which pump you qualify for and to learn more about getting your free, insurance-provided Ameda breast pump.
Providing your baby with breast milk is the best nutritional option during their first year of life. If you are facing breastfeeding challenges, must return to work or want to build up a supply in order to occasionally leave, a breast pump will allow you to continue to provide your baby milk. Choosing the right breast pump for you and your individual needs is the first step in your breastfeeding journey with your little one.