Breast Pumps

The best breast pump for you and your newborn

The virtues of a breast pump are well-known to most seasoned mothers, but many new moms are wary about choosing and using one. Do you really need a breast pump if you plan to breastfeed exclusively? How do you know which pump will work best for you if you've never used a pump before? Breast pumps can be a little mysterious since no accessories really compare to them, and some require a fairly hefty investment. However, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn how much the right breast pump can help alleviate your stress and workload as you breastfeed your newborn, and with a few pieces of helpful advice, you should have no problem finding that perfect pump for your lifestyle.


Why Use a Breastfeeding Pump?

Unless you have all the time in the world and are blessed with an ideal breastfeeding experience, there's no reason not to use a breast pump. Between the discomfort of engorgement, adapting to a breastfeeding routine and the desire to incorporate bottle feedings, a breast pump may just become your new best friend by the end of your first week as a mom.

For many women, breastfeeding is not as easy as they expect it to be. Simply getting the baby to latch onto your nipple can test your patience and determination, and that task becomes even more difficult if you're dealing with inverted nipples or soreness. The gentle suction of a breast pump can help to extract the nipple, get your milk flowing, even unclog a blocked milk duct. Moreover, a pump will help to protect against future discomfort by allowing you to empty your breast entirely after a feeding.

Manual vs. Electric Breast Pumps

While a breast pump will be indispensible in the first days after your delivery, you'll get good use out of your breast pump well beyond that first week as you prepare to return to work or share feeding responsibilities. Carefully consider what you need in a pump before you make your purchase to get the most from your investment. Generally, breast pumps are divided into two types -- manual and electric -- and the version that suits you best will depend on your routine today and your plans for tomorrow.

For new moms who only need to express small amounts of milk (say, to fully empty their breasts after a feeding), a manual breast pump is a fine choice. It's more portable, cost effective and straightforward, and versions like the Medela breast pump are insightfully designed to decrease the effort required to use it. On the other hand, a manual pump would soon become a pain in the neck if you need to express large amounts of milk frequently, so an electric model will be the best breast pump for a new mom who plans to feed with a bottle at least as often as with the breast.

Within the electric breast pump category, you'll find an array of models that cater to certain uses. For instance, a hospital-grade electric pump is ideal for moms who need to pump around the clock, offering a rapid sucking cycle to draw the milk out gently and thoroughly. If you're looking for something that's a little more portable but still powerful, go with a personal electric pump. A battery-operated pump or manual pump is the most affordable and the most convenient type, but remember that efficiency will decrease and effort will increase as you move down from high-end electric pumps to the simplest manual model.

If you choose to purchase an electric breast pump, you'll find you have one more decision to make: whether to get the single or double model. A double breast pump can be a godsend to women who need to pump, then bottle feed rather than breastfeeding directly. If you're pumping at work, for example, you'll appreciate the time savings of being able to pump both breasts at once. A single pump is a better option if you plan to nurse your baby at one breast, then pump the other to store the milk for later.