How to Choose a Breast Pump
Preparing to become a mother, women tend to make lists of necessary things for their baby. Among the important items, they include is a breast pump—a special device sucking off breast milk. In this article, you will learn what kind of breast pump is right for you and how to use it.
Choosing a Breast Pump
For starters, let’s establish why you would need to pump breast milk. The thing is, excessive accumulation of milk may make breasts stiff hence the necessity to extract it in time. Besides, pumps are often used to stimulate lactation for those with insufficient milk supply for proper feeding.
Sometimes, you may need to go somewhere when your baby needs to be fed. In this case, a milk pump will help you too—you can express your milk for dad, grandma or any other caregiver to feed the child. It is also often the case that an infant doesn’t want to suckle but is okay with drinking breast milk from a bottle. In a word, for all these situations breast milk pumping is necessary.
What’s the point in buying a breast pump if you can express milk by hand, you may ask. The answer is simple—this device will give you more free time and energy. Nowadays, there is a great variety of breast pumps to suit any needs and any wallet. To understand what kind of breast pump is the best for you, let us see what the market has to offer.
So, all breast pumps fall into 2 categories:
First let’s look at mechanical breast pumps, which are also called manual. They are cheaper than the electrical ones and can be:
- Bulb-type. These are the simplest devices that consist of two parts: a breast shield and a rubber pump (a bulb syringe). Milk is pumped by means of frequent squeezing of the pump (this helps compress the breast and collect milk). The disadvantage is that your hand gets tired quickly. Besides, there is a risk of nipple fissures and insufficient milk pumping.
- Syringe-type. This type of pumps consists of two cylinders one of which is applied to a nipple; after that, the other cylinder (the outer one) is moved back and forth. This kind of breast pumps is easier to use and clean. Moreover, it is compact. The disadvantage is that this device is quite old-fashioned, and your hand will get tired quickly as well.
- Piston-type. Such breast pumps consist of a bottle, a silicone breast shield and a handle. To pump milk, you need to tightly press a shield against your breast and push a handle. It is much like natural breastfeeding and helps pump milk quickly and quietly. However, such breast pumps tend to break often. Besides, your hand will get tired quickly just like with the other pump types.
As to electrical breast pumps, they really simplify the procedure and are easy to use. Just push the button and the device powered by a special motor will start working. Such pumps can save the mode you set; they help pump breast milk very efficiently (some models even do that from two breasts at once). Also, they give you no nipple fissures. The downside is that such devices may be noisy, making it inconvenient to use the pump while the baby is sleeping at your side.
Some electronic breast pumps are equipped with microcontrollers which adjust the milk pumping process. Mains- or battery-powered, such pumps are quite expensive too.
Preparing for Breast Pumping
Before you start:
- Wash your hands and breast with water at room temperature.
- Drink a cup of tea or warm water to stimulate milk let-down.
- Read the manual for your breast pump.
- Boil thoroughly the breast pump parts that need to be disinfected, air-dry them and assemble the device; then prepare a clean storage vessel for breast milk.
- Choose a breast shield that best fits your nipple—otherwise, the procedure will be painful and slow.
- Rub your breast with a damp towel for the shield to fit closely to the breast.
- Find a comfortable place and position.
- Choose a pace of milk pumping which is convenient for you.
- Massage your breast with light circular movements to stimulate lactation before the procedure and during it.
If you have any inconvenience pumping, don’t worry—this procedure is just an imitation of breastfeeding. To achieve the desired result, the production of oxytocin is key. Taking a bath, covering your breast with a warm towel, contemplating your baby’s photos—all that will make things easier for you.
How to Pump Milk
For best results, follow the recommendations below:
- It takes about 15 minutes to pump milk from each breast, so don’t hurry up to put the pump away if it went faster—go on for a couple of minutes more.
- Lean forward a bit—this position makes the process easier.
- Make sure the nipple is properly centred in the shield and the breast fits closely; otherwise, the necessary vacuum will not be created, and pumping will be problematic.
- Observe your breast; if it becomes soft and no palpable indurations are present, you may stop pumping (you may want to massage your breast once more moving from the arm-pit to the centre to extract the milk to the last drop),
- Use the pumped milk immediately (or put it into a freezer).
Why Can’t I Pump Milk?
There may be several reasons why you are unable to pump milk at all:
- The air gets between the shield and the nipple—in this case, your breast pump may not work properly,
- Engorgement (galactostasis)—if your breast is too indurated and hurts in several places, it will be rather difficult to pump milk quickly; to stimulate lactation, it is necessary to either massage the breast by softly touching the nipples or breastfeed your baby from one breast and pump milk from the other.
- You are mentally and physically not prepared for pumping as a ritual (not enough oxytocin has been produced).