Selecting The Right Breast Pump
The best pumps for exclusively pumping are medical-grade pumps that are often bought by hospitals, medical offices, WIC offices and occasionally by lactation consultants. These pumps range in price from $800 to $1800 and are often available for rent for $50 to $100 per month. Renting is not very economical unless you are only planning to have one child and only be exclusively pumping for a few months.
If you are planning to have several children and plan on exclusively pumping for each, seriously consider purchasing a medical-grade breast pump. The power, reliability and longevity of a medical-grade pump will be a good longterm investment. Rent a medical-grade pump for a couple of weeks to make sure you like all of its features then find out where you can purchase your own.
If a medical-grade pump is not financially realistic, you’ll want to get as good of a consumer pump as you can afford. I have used and liked my Medela Pump In Style, but I did not exclusively pump. If you know mothers who are exclusively pumping, ask them about their pump, otherwise there’s a few review sites for breast pumps, including Amazon.com. Be sure to pay close attention to reviews by moms were exclusively pumping.
Consider joining one of the online forums for exclusively pumping moms. Not only can you get general guidance, support and tips, but it’s probably the best place to get candid opinions about selecting the right pump.
As for features, be sure to get a dual pump so that you can pump both breasts at the same time. This one feature alone will cut your pumping time in half. If you think it might be necessary to pump from your car or someplace that doesn’t have a power outlet, be sure your pump has a battery power option or car adaptor option. Look for a pump that has a button so you can reactivate the letdown suction cycle. Finally make sure your pump has a control that allows you to adjust the amount of suction.
Once you have chosen your pump be sure to be properly fitted by a lactation consultant. Pumping shouldn’t hurt! If pumping hurts you likely need to be fitted for a different size flange. See a lactation consultant that works with pumps and has different flanges to try. Flanges come in various sizes and stiffness and getting the correct fit is important for your comfort, for your nipple health and for the effectiveness of milk withdrawal. I know many exclusively pumping moms who were able to pump more milk simply by switching to a soft shield rather than the hard plastic ones because it was so much more comfortable.
Once you’ve been properly fitted to your new pump, it’s time to outfit it with handy accessories for exclusively pumping. Be sure to get plenty of pump bottles, flanges and any other part that comes into contact with milk and must be washed. Nothing will throw off your efficiency like having to deal with pump parts constantly needing to be washed. If you’re going to be transporting milk (say from the office to home) be sure to get a milk storage cooler and reusable ice packs. There’s even ice packs that are made for breast milk bottles. If you need to transport your pump frequently but it doesn’t have a carrying case, invest in a bag that can keep track of all of your pumping gear.
Congratulations, you’re now ready to begin exclusively pumping!