How Do I Choose A Breast Pump?


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Pumping is necessary in many situations.  Not all breastfeeding mothers need to pump, but when mother and baby are separated for more than a few hours or breastfeeding is not possible for some other reason, pumping is important.

Kinds of pumps

Many types of pumps are available, each of which may be appropriate in different situations.  Pumps are generally separated into different categories:  electric piston driven (full -service electric such as the Ameda Purely Yours), small electric, battery operated and hand-operated (manual).  Also available are bulb-type pumps which resemble bicycle horns.  These are to be avoided.  They can damage the breast and are unable to be cleaned adequately.

A full-service electric breast pump is piston driven and most closely imitates the rhythmic sucking action and pressure of a nursing baby.  In most women, it quickly stimulates the let-down reflex making the milk available for expression.

Full-service electric pumps are convenient and efficient and are usually the best choice if breastfeeding must be delayed after birth, if breastfeeding is suspended temporarily as with a seriously ill hospitalized baby or mother or if a mother will have regular, lengthy times away from her baby, for example, if she is employed or a student.  

A manual or hand-operated breast pump may be all that is needed for pumping when a mother is separated from her baby for shorter periods of time.  Type and quality vary widely in this category of pumps.  The most commonly available are pumps designed as a set of cylinders which cause suction as they are pulled apart.

Small electric pumps range from the good to the very bad.  Most are suction-only device and the length of time needed to reach adequate suction is excessive in most models.  

Choosing a breast pump

Consider these questions when selecting a breast pump:


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