Breast pumps come in a variety of sizes, types, brands, and prices. There are so many to choose from that sometimes you’re not sure which way to go. This is a guide to help you find the right pump for you.
The well known brands of breast pumps are Evenflo, Gerber, Medela, and Ameda, Lansinoh, and Avent. The types of pumps include manual, AC adapter, battery powered, car adapter, and hospital grade. To get the best pump for you probably will require some research and asking questions. You don’t want to buy the most expensive one and then realize it had a lot of bad reviews. The best way to choose is to look for a pump that is easy to take apart, easy to clean, and fits into your budget.
Where to research:
There are several places you can research each breast pump. You can search online, compare each pump with the other, and decide what type you want. Then search the brand and see what sizes they have, and how many pieces come off (for washing purposes). Read reviews, and shop around for the best price.
You can ask around.
Ask other breast feeding mothers about their opinions, what they used and how they liked it. You can also ask your baby’s doctor, who could give you pamphlets with more information. Also, ask your health unit, or WIC office. WIC strongly recommends breast feeding, and they will give you all the information you need, as well as free classes.
There are a lot of books you can either buy from your local bookstore, or check out from the library. If your library has a video section, perhaps you can find video tutorials that would have information on the different style pumps.
*NOTE When I was looking for my electric and my hand pump, I went to www.walmart.com and searched their pumps. I read the product information, the price, and then the reviews placed by other mothers. Not all pumps had good reviews, so be sure to check that part out especially.
What questions to ask:
Do I want a pump that is home use only? (electric)
Do I need a pump for travel? (hand pump, or car charger, or battery)
Do I need a pump that is quick and easy access? (hand pump)
Is this easy to clean? Is this dishwasher safe? (some aren’t, and some have too many pieces to take apart)
Is this a brand I trust?
The different kinds of breast pumps:
Manual pumps with a trigger – These suction and pull the milk by you squeezing the triggered handle. And they seem to be the most effective and the best choice of hand pumps. The highlight of this pump is that it’s portable, doesn’t need batteries or an outlet, and you can use it with one hand. The downside of this pump, it’s not as effective as the electric pump and you have to continuously squeeze the trigger.
Syringe cylinder pumps – This type is one of the few that require both hands. Which could cause your hands to tire rather quickly. There is no trigger, which means you will have to hand pump your breast, while holding the flange and bottle tightly over your areola and nipple. The highlights of this pump, it’s effectiveness and it’s lightweight. The downside of this pump is that it takes two hands, and has no trigger.
Electric pumps – The suction action on this pump is very similar to that of your baby’s nursing pattern. Which makes this the ideal pump to use and it seems to be most effective. Electric pumps range in size, they can be large or small. Some can even be rented from your local drugstore or medical supply store. The highlights of this pump is the suction is just like baby’s sucking, one hand to operate, most effective (depend on brand) The downside of this pump, it has to be plugged in.
*NOTE Not all electric ones work correctly, it all depends on brand. Please research and read reviews first. When I was looking for my electric pump, I ran across too many expensive ones that had nothing but bad reviews. Be cautious when you are choosing your pump, but there are some out there that work wonderfully.
Battery powered pumps – Similar to electric pumps, but does not have quite as much power. The highlights of this pump, it’s more portable than the electric pumps and they don’t require an outlet, and is a one hand use. The downside of this pump is the batteries will have to be replaced every so often as needed.
Squeeze bulb pumps – Majority of these are shaped like a bike horn and are manually operated. I don’t know anyone that recommends this type of pump. The suction is bad, it’s difficult to clean, and requires too much energy, work, and time. The highlights of this pump is that it’s lightweight and portable. The downside of this pump, bad suction, hard to clean, too much effort to pump, will leave you feeling sore and tender, and your doctor will probably advise you NOT to get this pump.
Parts of the breast pump:
Most pieces of the pumps can be ordered from the Brand name’s company. The parts catalogue is usually found at the back of your pumps manual, or ordered online. This is mainly just in case any pieces get destroyed or misplaced. Ordering these pieces from the company are much cheaper than buying an entirely new pump. The only problem is waiting on the item to be shipped and received. Unless there is a local store with the piece you are looking for, you can call the brands hotline for more information.
How to use the breast pump:
If pump is properly hooked up, plugged in if needed, and has storage container attache, then you’re ready.
Place the flange over your nipple, this should cover almost your entire areola. The flange should fit snug, but still allowing your nipple to fit easily into the opening.
Start by pumping the first breast for 5-8 minutes, then the same for the second.
Then pump the first breast for 3-5 minutes, then the same for the second.
And again on the first breast for 2-3 minutes, then the same for the second.
You’ll want to repeat this last step until you have pumped all the milk, or breasts are too tender to go on.
In order to get more milk, you’ll want to switch from one breast to the other several times in one session. (This is not needed if you have a dual suction pump, one for each breast)
What I use:
Medela Double Select – Electric pump, with a suction action just like baby’s sucking pattern. This style comes with two flanges and bottles so you can have both going at once (this will require you to use both hands, one per pump, but it shortens the time dramatically!). Has several speeds in order to get the milk fast, and it’s very comfortable. Comes with bottles, and the system is lightweight with a long cord, making it easy to move. Great in any room.
This is the electric one that I used. It had several different suction speeds. I would always start on low, and gradually go to fast. This was my absolute favorite, it worked really well, had no problems with it, and was actually comfortable. The only thing you need to clean is the flanges and the bottles it’s connected to, after baby is done with it. You can pump straight into the bottle you want to feed your baby with. It comes with bottles, but it can also fit bigger sized bottles of a different brand (which is what I did). Or you can just buy more of the same Medela bottles in a different size.
Philips Avent ISIS – Dual manual pumps, that came with Avent bottles, replacement parts, a small cooler (which I loved) and two ice packs.
This pump worked perfectly for me, it’s not electric or battery powered, which is what I needed when I wasn’t pumping at home. I carried this with me, pumped when I needed to, and if baby wasn’t hungry right then, I just stored the bottle into the cooler. Or if I just didn’t feel like plugging in my electric pump (it moved room to room quite often) then I just grabbed this handy one. Very few parts to take off for cleaning, and although it was dishwasher safe, I still washed by hand as I do with all baby’s bottles.
Each pump might work differently for each woman, but the two pumps I have seem the best ones for me.