Breast pumps can be a godsend for nursing mothers. They can give you the freedom to go back to work, ensuring your baby is well nourished, they can allow the father to enjoy the bonding experience of feeding, or they can simply give you some much needed rest while someone else feeds the baby.
Many mothers prefer to purchase a breast pump before the baby arrives as it gives them a chance to try out the device to make sure it’s right for them, as well as help prepare them for frequent use. In fact, it’s highly recommended that bottle feeding is introduced very early on to help the baby adapt as well. Many infants will reject the bottle if it’s introduced to them later on.
There are many different types of breast pumps, all with different features and accessories so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. This is especially helpful before you start reading breast pump reviews. We’ve put together some tips to help you find the best breast pump for your needs.
There are two main types of breast pumps available… manual breast pumps, and electric breast pumps.
Manual breast pumps are hand operated by pumping a handle. The pumping action creates suction which causes the milk to travel from the breast shield (the part that covers your breast) through the tubing and into the collection containers (usually baby bottles). Some manual pumps use a single handle, while others have two handles.
Manual pumps can make a good choice for mother’s who plan to pump at work as they’re generally lighter, and also quieter than electric pumps. However, they do take a bit more effort and can also be time consuming, so if you’re planning to use it frequently you may be better suited to an electric breast pump either in place of or in addition to a manual pump.
Electric breast pumps work the same way as a manual pump, however they’re operated via a motor instead of a hand pumping action.
You’ll find that an electric breast pump will generally give a higher amount of suction than a manual breast pump and also cut down on the time it takes to express. Many of the better electric pumps on the market such as the Medela Pump in Style come with carry discreet backpacks or carry bags that make them easier to transport if you plan on leaving the house with them.
And while they’re noisier than manual breast pumps, there are some on the market that are whisper quiet so don’t be completely put off by electric breast pumps.
Electric breast pumps also come in two different varieties… single breast pumps and double breast pumps.
Single Breast Pumps come with one breast shield or flange (the part that covers the breast) and one collection bottle. While Double Breast Pumps naturally come with 2 breast shields and 2 collection bottles.
A double electric breast pump will obviously produce more milk, in less time than a single pump. They can be tricky to get used to at first but again, if you plan on frequent use, the payoff is worth putting up with the learning curve.
It’s important to make sure that the parts of a breast pump that will come into contact with the milk, or with your baby are free of BPA. BPA is compound sometimes used in the manufacture of plastics, and is potentially harmful to your child. The majority of pumps on the market are BPA free but it’s always important to check.
The other concern to keep in mind is whether the breast pump uses an open system or a closed system
A Closed system breast pump means that the motor is completely blocked off from the parts of the pump that come into contact with the milk, such as the tubing, breast shield, and bottles.
In an Open system breast pump there can sometimes be a chance that the milk may overflow or somehow come into contact with the motor where it’s impossible to clean and can cause bacteria.
While a closed system is good for piece of mind, it isn’t a huge concern, as contamination is a very rare occurrence, especially when you take care to make sure you don’t overflow the bottles. And many of the top breast pumps that use an open system are designed with preventing this issue in mind.
One of the better features to look out for in an electric breast pump is a let-down function. This is a setting that will help stimulate the breasts when you first start pumping so that a natural milk flow is achieved. Again… It isn’t a necessity but it’s something that many mothers find very helpful.
Another feature to look out for in an electric breast pump is battery operation. Many of the better breast pumps can be operated either via AC power or batteries. While there can be a slight loss of power or suction when operating a pump via batteries, it can allow you to take the pump pretty much anywhere. Many pumps also offer car chargers as an additional accessory.
Choosing the best breast pump really comes down to your lifestyle and your personal preferences. Hopefully you now you have a better idea of what style of pump is suited to you and what features to look out for.