Health Canada recommends that baby receives breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months and that he should continue to receive breast milk for at least the first 2 years of his life. But how is this even possible with mothers returning to work, moms who want an occasional night out without their babe and parents of premature babes or those want both partners to be part of the feeding process? That’s where a breast pump comes in: it easily allows for all of these circumstances to be tackled without complications.
So…Should you buy an electric breast pump? A double breast pump? A manual breast pump? If you’re in the market for a breast pump, here’s what you should know:
When does a hand pump make sense?
If you’ll be away from the baby only occasionally and your milk supply is well established, a simple hand pump—like the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump, the Ameda One-Hand Manual Breast Pump or the Lasinoh Manual Breast Pump—might be all you need. They’re pretty simple to use: place, squeeze and go.
When does an electric pump make sense?
If you’re going back to work full-time or you’re planning to be away from your baby for more than a few hours a day, an electric pump may be what you’re looking for. Usually a pumping session lasts about 10 to 15 minutes per breast. If you’ll be pumping at work or in other situations where time is an issue, you may want a double breast pump. Ones like the Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump or the Medela Freestyle Hands-Free will help stimulate milk production while reducing pumping time.
If you’re new to pumping and you want to try it out before committing, you might want to rent a hospital-grade electric breast pump from a hospital or medical supply store. If you rent a pump, you’ll need to buy the pumping kid to attach your breast to the pump. Some health insurance plans cover the cost of buying or renting a breast pump; check with your insurance provider for this information.
Breast milk storage
If you’re planning on pumping and storing significant amounts of breastmilk (if you’re going away or your partner would like to take on feedings for a while), stock up on breast milk storage containers. You also have a few options in this department (decisions, decisions!); there are sealable bags by Lasinoh, Nuk, Ameda and Medela and bottles from Medela and Ameda.
If you’re still unsure about which type of breast pump will be best, a lactation consultant can help you make the choice—and offer support as you start to use your breast pump. If you haven’t worked with a lactation consultant, ask your OB/GYN for a referral or check with one of the nurses in the hospital or doctor’s office.
Remember: Because there’s a small risk of contamination, don’t borrow or buy a used personal-use breast pump.