So you have decided that you need a breast pump after reading up on why you need one, but now you are faced with a variety of choices and are feeling overwhelmed. Answering these questions will help you gain more clarity:
- What’s the reason you want a breast pump? There are a variety of reasons one could want a breast pump, and if you have this sorted as to why exactly you require one, you are much more likely to make the correct choice as to which breast pump serves your needs the best.
- Will you use the breast pump only sporadically or regularly? Is this pump going to aid you from the moment the baby arrives, or are you intending to use it only when you return to work? If you are working from home, is it only for the one odd meeting that requires your physical attendance? Having help in the postpartum period is essential when you are exclusively breastfeeding. If help is limited, its a great idea to invest in a breast pump. For some women, the leak is so significant that it is better stored, and there are Hakkaa cups that fit on the breast to collect these too.
- What’s your budget? Since the breast pump is going to serve you as long as you choose to breastfeed or as long as you intend to provide breast milk for your infant, it’s a long term investment. If you are short on funds, it is worthwhile considering the options to suit your budget, and depending on why you want a breast pump, the amount you invest becomes relevant.
- Does your insurance cover the breast pump? If you have an insurance plan that is covering your expenses during delivery, then your plan also likely covers the purchase or rental services of a breast pump. Be sure to check what types they will pay for.
- Are you planning to rent or buy a breast pump? Both of these are viable options, due to hygiene concerns, it isn’t advisable to use a hand-me-down breast pump. While manual pumps fall in the cheaper range, the electric pumps can be pricey. The single electric pump would cost less than a double electric pump.
- How much noise does the breast pump make? This may seem silly at the outset, until you really hear the older versions or the battery operated versions, or the lower range of breast pumps. You want to hear this thing run to know, or at least read reviews on the device you have selected. You may find yourself in the middle of the night, in a chaotic situation quite literally. The last thing you want is to disturb the sleeping infant, and wreck chances of catching a wink.
- Are you carrying your pump to work? If you intend to carry the pump to work, you might want to go in for something that is sleek and has a portable bag to carry it to work and keep the tubings in place. As this requires extreme cleanliness, you can’t stuff the pump into any bag along with everything else. Lugging around a heavy instrument may be awkward and also tiresome for a mom who already has her fair share to handle.
- Do you have a supply of electricity everywhere you want to use it? If you are going in for a breast pump, you need to know whether you require a battery operated back up, or if it’s a device that can be charged once every few days, or is it something that requires electricity to operate.
- Can the suction settings be adjusted? Just as each of us have a different pain threshold, the suction settings are an important feature of the modern breast pumps. They account for the fact that each and every pumping session is unique and the suction that feels absolutely painless one day, could feel extremely tender on another. Each breast also requires different suction pressure at different times of the day. If you can afford to buy something with a suction setting, you will find this much easier on your breasts. If you want a breast pump handy, just in case, for that odd moment, then you could get by with something without a setting option.
- Does it have a night light and a clock option? While this isn’t essential, having a breast pump that has a soft light that is enough for you to adjust the pump, but not bright enough to wake your little tot up, might just add up to a few extra winks, which no new parent can willfully refuse.
Breast pumping accessories
While it seems like breastfeeding is “free”, it actually involves a lot of added expenses, which when worked out, are still certainly less than using formula.
- The breast pump, and its tubings, need to be carefully sterilized prior to use, and if you intend to use a breast pump regularly, it is advisable to also invest in a sterilizer and a bottle warmer or a device that performs both these functions, as it saves a lot of time.
- The bottles into which you can collect the breast milk are generally provided along with the breast pumps, but in case they aren’t make sure to buy a bottle that is compatible with your breast pump.
- Another useful purchase is breast milk storage bags, and there are some which are compatible with your breast pump directly so it saves you the trouble of having to pump into a bottle and transfer, however if time isn’t of essence, you can do quite fine even without it. If you have issues with the environmental impact of using lots of plastics, I advise my patients to use stainless steel containers. However, if you are regularly pumping, the commercial storage bags occupy a lot less space in your refrigerator.
- A double pumping, hands free pumping bra is an amazing invention and investment if you are considering purchasing a double electric breast pump. As nursing is a large part of a new mother’s day, being hands-free while at it, can really be a huge relief and she can hold on to her favorite magazine, or sort laundry while pumping. I know some mothers who even drive to work while pumping.
After reading this article, if you feel overwhelmed still, a useful resource is the lactation support groups provided by La Leche League.
The safest bet is to wait until after having your baby, to decide how often you really need the breast pump, and how much you intend to rely on it. In closing if you are still on the fence about the expense, trust me, having a breast pump on hand is a worthwhile investment.