Tips for First Time Moms Buying a Breast Pump
Breastfeeding can seem simple from the surface. All you need is to feed the baby, and you're set, right? If you're taking some time away from your baby, need to head back to work, or you find that your baby prefers the bottle, you might need to buy and learn how to use a breast pump. The breast pump includes many options to choose from, including various prices, shapes, and sizes that can make it a breeze to provide nutrition for your baby.
What Features Should Be Considered for A Breast Pump?
Before purchasing a breast pump, it's important to first narrow down what you need from a breast pump or what features are essential for your lifestyle. With many options available on the market, consider the following before choosing your go-to pump.
- Frequency of Use: Determine how often you'll be needing to use your breast pump. If you're going to be away from the baby for more than a few hours or heading back to work full-time, an electric pump may be a better option. If you're only gone from your baby for short periods, you might be fine using a hand pump that allows you to shield your breast and use the handle to squeeze the milk out.
- Speed of Pumping: On average, a pumping session can last between 5-15 minutes per breast, depending on how full they are. If you're in a time-crunch situation, or you're going to have to pump at work, an electric pump or double-breast pump might help speed up the milk production process.
- Budget: You can purchase breast pumps from many sources, including department stores, baby product retailers, online shops, or medical grade supply stores. Think about the budget you're able to spend on a breast pump. If you need to buy a less expensive option, always choose a reputable brand and read reviews. In general, a manual model breast pump will cost less than an electric pump.
- Electricity Supply: Will you always have access to power and an outlet? If not, you might want to re-consider using an electric pump with a built-in rechargeable battery or make sure a rechargeable battery pack is included with your pump. If you're concerned this might be an issue, a manual pump would be an excellent backup option.
- Breast Shield Size: A breast shield is a cone-shaped cup that sits over your nipples. If you think that the standard size could be too small, check with the specific brand about other options, as they usually have larger sizes available.
- Hands-Free: Do you want to be able to do other things while pumping, or do you plan to relax and take a break during that time? Using a hands-free shield or pump allows you to do other things while pumping your milk.
- Transport: Will you be using this pump at home, or will you need to travel with your pump? Some breast pumps can be hard to clean, take apart or assemble, making them difficult to transport around. Consider the breast pump's weight and noise level with the type of situation you'll be pumping in. If you need to be discreet, you'll probably prefer an electric pump.
Accessories to Help with Breast Pumping
Besides purchasing the actual breast pump, there are lots of other products and pumping accessories that can make your life a bit easier. Once you've decided on the type of pump, consider grabbing these additional products to make pumping a breeze.
Hands-Free Bra: There are two options here. You can opt for the bra or buy a wireless breast pump. Using a hands-free model relieves you of the need to hold the breast shields in place and allows you to do other activities during your pumping session.
Extra Parts: Make sure to have spare parts so that you don't have to continuously clean and use the same ones. Having at least two to three sets will allow you more flexibility.
Rechargeable Battery Pack: It's always good to have an extra battery pack for your pump if it doesn't already include one so you don't have to attach it to an outlet. Check with your specific model to find out what type of voltage you'll need.
- Lactation Massager: If you want your milk to release faster, or you need to clear out clogged ducts, investing in a lactation massager will help with both issues.
Tips to Make Breast Pumps Easier
Once you've chosen a pump and have your accessories, it's time to get pumping. Check out these tips to ensure a smooth, easy time with your machine.
- Use Lubrication: Your nipples may feel sore or uncomfortable after or during your pumping session. It could be from rubbing, moving, or the suction against your skin. Adding lubrication like olive oil or coconut oil before feeding will help relieve this pain and is safe for your baby to drink if it gets into your milk.
- Stimulate Letdown: You might find it hard to get your milk to flow while you're away from your baby. This is totally normal! To help encourage let down, keep some type of visual cue with you, such as a picture of your baby or their blanket while you pump.
Length of Pump: Don't stress out if longer pumping sessions aren't working for you. Try to do shorter, more frequent pumping sessions instead of longer pumping sessions. You'll feel more comfortable and see better results.
- Keep Extra Parts: Always keep backup parts on you or at work, so you never worry about not being able to pump if you forgot your main set or if something happens to break. Being prepared will help to ensure a stress-free pump.
- Use Storage Bags: Always have storage bags on hand to fill with your milk, and don't feel like you have to fill them up completely before storing them. Smaller batches will be easier to thaw out and are less likely to spill over.
Finding a breast pump doesn't have to be overwhelming. By considering what's important to your body and your needs, you can find a pump that works with your lifestyle. Remember to give yourself grace during this process and that it's okay to adjust your pumping process to make it feel right for you.