One of the top things that a family can do when preparing for the birth of their baby is to learn how to choose a breast pump.
Using a breast pump is often associated with parents who are going back to work out of the house so that they can continue to give their child breastmilk, however, a breast pump is used for more than just that!
Some parents choose to exclusively pump and feed their baby breastmilk out of a bottle, while some enjoy the option of being able to pump milk to have on hand in an event when they are able to occasionally offer baby a bottle of breastmilk instead of breastfeeding.
There are tons of options when it comes to how to choose a breast pump but the two main pumps you’ll see to select from are a manual pump and an electric pump.
How to choose a breast pump
There are a few components that will dictate your choice into which type of pump you go with:
Electric pumps can be pricey. Some medical plans will cover the cost of either buying or renting an electric pump, so make sure to look into what your coverage is before making a decision. Manual pumps are more cost-efficient.
You can find electric pumps second hand, but make sure that you wash and sterilize it before use. You can find out how to sterilize your breast pump here. Ask around between friends and family to see if anyone has a spare one that they’re willing to sell (or give) to you so that you know exactly where it came from and how it was used.
While an electric pump can be a bit more costly they do tend to last forever (especially if you use a reputable brand, such as Medela). They will likely work for you if you have more than one child and you can usually find replacement parts if something does go wrong.
Manual expression often takes more time than electric. Generally, the power in a manual pump is not as much as it is in an electric pump. If you are planning on using a pump for exclusive pumping or know that you would like to build a supply in the freezer for if you are going back to work out of the home a manual option may not be the most appropriate for you.
An electric pump can often be used on the go through the use of a pumping bra. This will allow you to be hands-free while you’re pumping one or both breasts.
A manual pump is powered by YOU. That means that you have to make it work by squeezing repeatedly as the pump works to express milk. An electric pump, however, does that job for you.
That said, using an electric breast pump requires electricity or batteries.
Many electric pumps offer different settings, including a “let down” mode that simulates what a baby will do during your let down to allow the expression of more milk.
You are able to do this using a manual pump but it requires a bit more thought.
Electric breast pumps make a bit of noise. It’s a distinguishable sound that every mother who has ever pumped recognizes almost immediately. While it’s not a very loud noise it may be better used away from sleeping folk.
Hey-O! This next part is where I’ve put all of my affiliate links. That means that if you purchase a pump through one of my links I may receive compensation at no cost to you. I’m also in no way obligated to promote the brands that I am and am doing so based entirely on my own professional and personal opinion.
I want a manual pump!
There are a couple different types of manual pumps that I recommend.
I’m a huge fan of Medela. They’re reputable, good quality, and offer all the parts that are necessary in case something goes missing (which, in my house it always did…because, kids.) I’ve always trusted them when it came to pumping, which is why of all the manual (and electric-see below) pumps I recommend this one:
Now, I worked with a client who was given a Haakaa and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. She couldn’t stop raving about it, and quite honestly, the simplicity of it is pretty appealing. It’s a one-piece silicone pump that works on suction. She said it was comfortable and easy to clean (you can pop it right in the dishwasher)! This is a great option if you’re looking to catch milk from one breast as you’re nursing from the other.
I want an electric breast pump!
If you’ve chosen an electric breast pump you now need to decide if you want a single or a double.
A single breast pump allows you to express milk from one breast at a time. This is great if you’re looking to do a little bit of expressing here and there.
I’m a huge fan of Medela. I had this particular model when I was pumping on occasion to be able to go for a long hike and leave my babies with their Dad. This particular model has the “let down” feature that I discussed earlier.
If you’re hoping to store a lot of milk it may be wise to get a double pump. Not only will this save you money, but it also stimulates your body, allowing most women to make more milk than if they expressed from each breast individually.
The double breast pump I’ve added below is a wonderful set that includes everything that you need for double pumping. The whole set up allows for organization at home, as well as the ability to take your pump with you wherever you need to go.
This was the pump that I used when I was trying to establish and maintain my milk supply as it provided me with the most power in the least amount of time.
Because of the hands-free nature of an electric breast pump you can use a nursing bra (as mentioned above) that will allow you to insert the breast flange through a slit in the bra that will hold the flange in place while you’re pumping.
Alternatively, you can just take an old sports bra and cut a couple of slits where your nipples are (do this carefully, please). You won’t have quite the same structure as a specific pumping/nursing bra but it’ll do in a pinch!
When it comes time to choose a breast pump make sure to carefully consider all of your options. Ask friends and family what their favorites were. Ask your midwife or doctor what their favorites are.
When you do receive your breast pump make sure to wash it, sterilize it, and follow all manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure that it works the best for you!