Breastfeeding? Bottle feeding? Choosing how to feed your baby is a big decision; so is picking the right pumps, bottles & accessories.
One of the tools that many breastfeeding moms find helpful is a breast pump. Designed to allow a lactating mom to extract milk to bottle for future feeding, or simply to regulate milk and relieve engorging when not feeding, breast pumps come in many forms, with many features to choose from. For example, you might opt for a manual pump that is operated by hand or foot, or an electric one that plugs in or runs by battery. Sears has a great selection of breast pumps available from brands like Avent® and Medela®. Here are some other breast pump basics to get you on your way.
There are three different pumping types: single, double, and double-alternating.
Type of Pump
What it does
|Single||Extracts milk from one breast at a time.||Most manual breast pumps are single pumps, although you can also find both battery-powered single pumps and electric ones.|
|Double||Can be used to extract milk from both breasts at the same time with two breast shields.||Most double pumps are electric as they require a lot of power.|
|Double-Alternating||Can be used to extract milk from both breasts at alternating times. It comes with two breast shields; one releases suction from one breast before applying suction to the other breast.||Most double-alternating pumps are electric as they require a lot of power.|
Parts of breast pumps include:
- A cone-shaped cup, called a breast-shield, which fits over the nipple and areola.
- A pump to create the gentle vacuum that expresses milk. The pump may be attached directly to the breast-shield or have plastic tubing connecting them.
- A detachable milk collection container that fits below the breast-shield. The container is typically a disposable bag or a reusable bottle.
Questions to Consider
How much time will it take you to pump?
If you don’t have a lot of time, electric or battery operated is your best bet in terms of speed, with double and double-alternating being even faster since they can be attached to both breasts at the same time.
Is the pump easy for you to use, with instructions that are easy to understand?
You want something that won’t be a chore to operate or put together as you’ll be using it a lot!
Where will you be using the pump?
Both the manual and battery-operated pumps are easy to transport because an electrical outlet is not required. Many often come in handy grab-and-go kits with all the tools you need in a bag. They are usually light-weight, and easily assembled so they are ideal for moms on the go or those who will be pumping at work. Otherwise, electric pumps work well at home, where you’ll have a comfortable area with an electrical outlet nearby.
Do you need a special breast shield size?
You should be able to comfortably centre your nipple inside the breast shield. As most pumps come with one size breast shield that doesn’t always fit all, feel free to purchase a size that best fits your breasts separately to attach to your pump. Remember, if your breast shield makes your breast sore or uncomfortable, replace it with a different size or texture that will work best for you.
Things to Remember
- Always go for a new breast pump, not used, unless it’s a hospital grade pump rented from a medical facility. Sharing pumps, even if thoroughly washed, can lead to infections.
- Look for a model that cleans easily. You’ll want to disinfect after every use, so the easier the better.
- Will you be on the go a lot? Several brands offer breast pumps and accessories in handy cases or backpacks that are ready to go at a moment’s notice.