As a breastfeeding mom, there may be times that you find it necessary to use a breast pump. For example, if you’ve had a premature baby that needs to stay in the NICU for an extended period of time. Or maybe you’re going back to work and want to continue breastfeeding. Or, perhaps your husband or partner would like to be involved with feeding the baby. Whatever the case may be, if you happen to find yourself in the market for a breast pump, be sure to continue reading. I’m sharing my tips on motherhood for choosing and using a breast pump.
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With both Sweet B and V, a breast pump was necessary for me. V was in the NICU for three months and only had breastmilk for his stay. It was the same situation with Sweet B when she was in the NICU for about a month. But then, with Squeaker, I knew I was going to be staying at home with her, so I didn’t think too much about getting a breast pump. Still, just in case I did want to pump, I started looking around for what would be best for my needs. I had also read that using a breast pump could help with increasing milk supply, so it was something else to consider.
A Breastfeeding Mom’s Guide to Choosing and Using a Breast Pump
Choosing a Breast Pump:
First, it’s important to know what types of breast pumps are available. When V was in the NICU, I rented a hospital grade breast pump that was covered by my insurance. With Sweet B, I was also able to rent a hospital grade breast pump.
So what are the types of breast pumps?
A manual breast pump is operated by hand and can come in both single and double varieties. Single variety is the more commonly seen, or at least that one that you might want to consider so you don’t wear out your muscles too quickly. Manual pumps are great for on the go situations, or if you’re looking to increase your milk supply.
Popular and well known manual pumps include:
- Medela Harmony Breast Pump
- Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump
- Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump
- Nuk Expressive Breast Pump
- Dr. Brown’s Manual Breast Pump
- The First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump
Ultimately, the one I ended up choosing for myself was the Tommee Tippee. I’m familiar with the Medela line as that was the manufacturer for the hospital grade pump. But I wanted to try the Tommee Tippee line for my manual pump.
Another type of breast pump to consider is a battery operated or electric breast pump. Usually, an electric breast pump can be plugged into an outlet but may also have a battery option for on the go use. They come in single or double use and are a better choice for a working mom who wants to continue breastfeeding.
Popular and well known electric pumps include:
- Spectra Baby USA
- Rumble Tuff Single Electric
- Medela Pump In Style
- Phillips Avent Double Electric
- The First Years Double
Regardless of which type of breast pump (electric or manual) that you end up choosing, you’ll also need breastmilk storage supplies such as bottles or bags to collect the milk. You can freeze breastmilk or you can store it in your fridge. Be sure to clearly label it though.
Storage guidelines for breastmilk:
- At room temperature- 4 to 6 hours
- Cooler bag – 24 hours
- Refrigerator – 72 hours to 8 days
- Freezer (attached to fridge) – 2 weeks
- Freezer (side by side with fridge) – 3 to 6 months
- Deep Freezer – 6 to 12 months
Using a Breast Pump
So now that you’ve picked out your breast pump, how exactly do you use this thing? Well, the best advice is to get comfortable and follow the instructions that are included. But, if it’s your first time using a breast pump, it can be quite uncomfortable. And even though they say it’s supposed to mimic how a baby breastfeeds, it’s not quite like that.
Preparing the breast pump
1. Read all the instructions in the kit very carefully.
2. Every part of the breast pump will need to be sterilized before you begin using it.
3. After use, all the parts of the pump will need to be washed in warm, soapy water, then rinsed with hot water and drained on a clean towel. The
plastic tubing doesn’t need to be cleaned unless you get milk into it. If you do wash it, it should be hung to allow time to dry and drain thoroughly.
4. If your doctor feels the need, the entire kit can be sterilized every day.
5. When you first start with an electric pump, the suction level should be on the lowest possible setting.
– Warm compresses, gentle massages of the breast and gentle nipple stimulation will help to stimulate a quick let down.
– You should always relax while doing breast massages during pumping. Some mothers prefer to close their eyes then think about nursing the
baby, imagining the baby in their arms. The more relaxed that you are, the better let down you’ll have and the more milk will be dispensed.
– Your first attempts at pumping should be considered practice sessions with learning to use the breast pump as the goal, not how much milk is
– When you use a hand pump, quick, short pumps at the start is stimulating and will imitate more closely the way a baby breast feeds. Once
the let down occurs and milk starts to flow freely, long, steadier strokes are more effective and less tiring.
– When you learn to pump, you should practice for 5 minutes on a side at least once or twice a day. Always pick the least stressful part of your day for pumping.
So, there you have it! This breastfeeding mom’s guide to choosing and using a breast pump.
Have you ever used a breast pump? What advice would you share?