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How to choose a breast pump

Using a breast pump is an excellent way to allow your child to continue benefiting from your breast milk if you return to work or simply go out for a while. A breast pump can also give mom a break from some feedings and give dad a chance to bond with the baby. There are a lot of different pumps available, which one is right for you? Our lactation specialists have some tips to consider when you’re looking for a breast pump.

Manual breast pump

Plan ahead to pump breast milk

If you are considering pumping, you should start using the pump and bottles shortly after breastfeeding has been established - around 3-4 weeks of age unless you are directed to do so earlier - so your baby can get used to the bottle. It’s also a good idea to help yourself get used to pumping. Don’t wait until the night before you’ve got a babysitter to try pumping for the first time. Different breast pumps work in different ways and it’s important to find one that works well for you and will help you keep your milk flowing.

Different types of breast pumps

There are two main categories of breast pumps: electric and manual (operated by hand). It’s worth considering each type and picking the one that best meets your needs.

Electric pumps

Double electric pumps are most efficient and work most like the baby. If you will be pumping full-time, it’s worth investing in a top-of-the-line, heavy duty, double electric pump. It cuts pumping time dramatically - 15 minutes total in most cases. These pumps are fully automatic, have adjustable suction levels and come in easy carrying cases. If you are considering pumping regularly, check with your insurance provider, many offer these now for free.

Mid-range electric pumps typically pump one breast at a time so pumping takes longer. However, these models are more affordable and more portable. These pumps are often a good fit if you will be pumping occasionally.

Manual pumps

Manual hand breast pumps are small and very affordable. While these pumps take longer than either electric type, many women think they feel more natural and like the simplicity of the hand pump.
A note of caution: If you are considering buying a used breast pump or borrowing a friend’s pump, reconsider. While some high-end pumps (i.e hospital grade rental pumps like the Symphony by Medela) are designed for multiple users, most pumps are not and carry a risk of contaminating your breast milk or getting an infection.
Breast pump equipment

Taking care of your breast pump

No matter which pump works best for you, it is important to clean all pump parts after each session. If you don’t, you run the risk of getting an infection or passing one on to your baby. Take the accessible pieces apart, many come with a brush to aid in cleaning, and wash the pump parts with mild soap and warm water. If you see milk residue in the tubes, clean them according to the manufacturer's instructions. Air dry all parts completely before putting them back on the pump. There are also microwave steam bags designed to clean pump parts which is a quick and easy way to disinfect.

Learn more about our lactation support services

Check out our app NP PEDS MD for further information and home care advice.

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