Breast pumps are kind of weird: the first time I saw one, I thought to myself, “What? Are you kidding?” But, after a week of expressing milk, I could talk for hours about breast pumps. Here’s an interesting fact: no matter how good a breast pump is, it’s never as good as a baby’s sucking motion. This is because breast pumps only suck, whereas babies suck and massage the milk out with their tongue.
For moms who express milk once in a while, save your money: try hand expression. For moms who express breast milk daily, breast pumps are a must-have. In my opinion, pay the extra money and get a good breast pump. It’s worth it.
There are many brands of breast pumps available but they all fall into 3 categories:
By far, the electric breast pumps are the best. You put the funnel shaped cover over your breast, plug in the machine, and it will do all the work for you – and fast too. Results vary with different women, but you can empty one breast in 10 minutes. Some electric pumps will pump one breast at a time while duo-pumps will pump both breasts at the same time.
Electric pumps work the best but they are also the most expensive. They are over $100 and if you get one with all the accessories, it can cost as high as $500. You can often rent one from hospitals, pharmacies, lactation specialists and La Leche League (approximately $5 per day).
• See electric breast pumps here.
There are a variety of hand held pumps. They all work, but they all require a bit of manual dexterity too. The most popular one has a lever which you squeeze. This causes a suction and draws the milk out of the breast and into a container. Some women can work this type of pump with one hand while other women need both hands to get it to work properly.
The syringe-type of breast pump has two barrels, one slides into the other. You slide-out the outer barrel and this causes a suction which draws out the breast milk. This type of breast pump requires two hands to use. When it comes to breast pumps, this type is an older model, but you can still find them around.
You should not use pumps which have a squeeze-bulb as its mode of achieving suction. The breast milk can get into the bulb and there is no way to effectively wash the bulb. This type of hand held breast pump may introduce bacteria into your breast milk.
Hand held pumps are the cheapest (approximately $30), but they take a good amount of work on your part to physically pump. Some women use manual breast pumps to express milk everyday while other women recommend it only if you plan to express infrequently.
• See manual pumps here.
Battery operated pumps are intermediate in price and functionality. Certainly, they are easier to use than manual pumps, but they are not as good as the electric ones.
One disadvantage of battery-operated pumps is that it uses up batteries fast. When the batteries are getting low it will become less and less effective in drawing out the milk. Be sure to have extra batteries around the house.
• See battery breast pump here.
- Read about Renting a Breast Pump
- Read about How to Express and Store Breast Milk
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