Breast pumps are designed to express milk from the breast, into a container or bottle. They are widely used by lactating mothers as an alternative to expressing milk by hand – which can be a long-drawn, frustrating process.
Breast Pumps are Particularly Useful When:
- You want to express enough milk to make up a feed. For example, if you are getting back to work and want your baby to continue breast milk, or to stock up before going out for the evening.
- You have to provide milk for a premature or ill baby who can’t breast-feed
- You are uncomfortably engorged with milk and want to relieve the pressure
Types of Breast Pumps
Breast pumps come in three main types – manual, battery-operated and electric.
Manual Pumps – These simple, hand-held pumps are ideal if you only plan to express occasionally or if your milk flows quickly. Also the most inexpensive, hand-pumps are simple to use and very portable. However, the manual pumping can be tiring on your hands and some women find that they are not as efficient as electric pumps.
Battery-operated Pumps – These pumps take over the work of manual pumping. Some of these pumps can also operate from the mains, and may come with a mains adaptor. You can also buy separate breast pump mains adaptors compatible with a variety of makes.
Electric Pumps – Electric pumps are quicker and more efficient than manual ones – but are also quite expensive and noisy. You could also hire them from hospitals that regularly lend them to mothers of premature babies. Electric pumps have a reputation of being tougher on the nipples and may also be difficult to clean and sterilize.
Time is the single biggest factor in deciding which kind you want. If you want to make your pumping time as short as possible, you’ll need an electric pump that is reliable, quiet and fast.
Breast Pump – Buying Tips
- Motors in breast pumps are notorious for burning out. So if you are planning to use one every day, it pays to invest in a good-quality one so that you don’t have to worry about overusing it
- If you are planning to express just once or twice a week, a hand pump will probably do just as well
- In a manual pump, you have to use your hand to pump the lever that creates suction – make sure you buy one that’s efficient
- Look for designs that pump the breast with each action of the handle, both as you squeeze and as you relax (rather than those which only pump as you squeeze). The double action is better at getting milk out of the breast
- Modern breast pumps have a soft inner lining attached to the piece that goes over your breast. It massages the breast and imitates a baby feeding
- Some breast pumps now come in handy “out and about” packs, which contain milk storage containers and ice packs too
- Whichever type of pump you buy, remember that the parts will need to be easy to clean and sterilize