Breast Pump Selection and Use

Breast pumps can be a huge help to any mom, whether you need to pump because you are working, or you just want the new father to be able to share in feeding duties. With a wide variety of pump types and price points, do your research ahead of time to make sure to choose the one that suits your personal needs.

Types of Breast Pumps

There are a number of different brands and types of breast pumps available. What to buy depends on how often you plan to pump. For those who are only planning to pump occasionally, a basic manual pump will probably do the job. This is a great choice if you only plan to pump when you are going out for the evening, for example, and need someone else to feed the baby. It’s also a great backup pump to have on hand or keep in the diaper bag should the need arise. Look for one with simple, one-handed operation.

Electric pumps come in several types as well, from single horn to double horn, some with a special let-down function that changes the speed of the pump automatically after the first few minutes. If you plan to pump a lot, all day at work for example, a double horn electric model is a good choice. Single pumps take twice as long, but are more affordable, so they are a better choice if you don’t plan to pump often.

Hospital grade pumps are more powerful and a good choice for anyone who needs to pump exclusively for their child, such as in the case of a premature baby who can not latch on yet. Some insurance plans will cover the cost of the pump rental, but if not it might be too expensive for anyone who doesn’t need that level of performance.

Personalizing Your Pump

Whichever pump you choose, you will want to make sure you have the right size breast shields for your nipples. All pumps come with a standard sized shield, but that doesn’t mean it will fit you. When you choose a pump, make sure that the manufacturer offers different sizes of shields, and follow their directions for selecting the size that will fit you. Improperly sized shields can cause discomfort when pumping, so get the right size.

Using Your Pump

Once you have chosen a pump and selected the correct size shields, you are ready to get started. Some pumps come with the parts pre-sterilized and ready for use in sealed packaging. Others will need to be sterilized before use. As every pump is a little different, follow the manufacturer’s directions for the use of the pump. To make the feeling a little more pleasant, you can rub a small amount of lanolin on the inside of the shields.

To get the most out of pumping, continue running the pump for a couple of minutes after the milk has stopped. There is often more than one let down in every session, so be sure you have drained the breast completely. However, keep in mind that pumping for too long can cause pain, so try to keep pumping sessions to around 15-20 minutes. With a single pump, this will take twice as long as you will have to do each side separately.

After pumping, wash all pump parts in hot soapy water. You don’t need to sterilize your pump parts every time if you wash them thoroughly, but plan to sterilize at least every second day.

Pumping can be a lot of work, but it can also free you to enjoy activities away from your baby or let your baby’s father take over some of the feeding duties while you get some rest!

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