Breastfeeding your baby would prove very difficult or even impossible for all working moms out there, if it weren’t for breast pumps. These little tools have proven to be very convenient mediators between our babies and us. Of course, nobody would gladly use a plastic contraption to pump out their milk for later use. But I like to know that my baby is satiated and happy even when I am not around.
As many moms already know, breast milk is the single most valuable food a baby can have. And there’s no supplement that can replace it entirely. It contains thousands of proteins made of amino acids, sugars that stimulate and feed the good bacteria, antibodies, enzymes, fatty acids. All of these ingredients are essential for your baby’s proper development and health. That’s why I have done a bit of digging to present the best breast pumps you can buy on the market.
Benefits of Using Breast Pumps
Pumping isn’t a great idea exclusively for moms who plan on getting back to work. It’s extremely convenient in many other situations too. For example, it provides the dads with a chance to spend yet another heartwarming moment with their infant. Frankly, tending to the baby’s numerous needs can be an overwhelming experience. And you will need a break from time to time. That’s when your breast pump comes in handy. Just pump up some of that precious white liquid and give yourself a well-deserved pause.
However, breast pumps are not all about convenience. They can also increase your milk supply, if that’s one of your concerns. During the lactation period, female body has its ways of regulating the milk flow. The more you pump, the more milk it will produce. If a regular 10-minute pumping session doesn’t produce satisfactory results, try pumping for 15-20 minutes. In time, you should notice an increased amount of milk.
For moms whose babies have latching issues, a good breast pump can be a lifesaver. They can avoid frustrating the baby while still feeding them the best food that money can’t buy. Also, mom’s milk can last up to 12 months when frozen deep. So, storing milk supplies is a great thing if you happen to run out of milk or experience a mastitis issue at a certain point.
When Is It Best to Start Pumping?
First-time moms, this section is for you.
This is a very personal question and there isn’t a universal answer to it. Pediatricians generally agree that the best time to start pumping is when your baby gets three to four weeks old. That period is kind of a perfect balance because your baby will get used to suckling and won’t choose a plastic nipple over your own. She will get to adore breastfeeding, but still won’t suffer if you have to be away for a few hours each day.
But the situation might be a bit more complicated. If you need to get back to work within the first month from delivery, you should definitely start pumping earlier in order to maintain milk supply. Moms who only intend to pump should start doing it much sooner – already a few hours after delivery. This also stands with preterm babies. In such cases, breast pump is invaluable because it will help initiate and maintain milk production when your baby can’t. However, don’t freak out if there are only few drops of milk. Just keep pumping until you reach the full milk supply.
If you decide to give pumping a shot, make sure to acquire the best breast pump of high-quality (more on that below). I know, the price can be an issue. But check if your insurance company will cover it. In many cases, they will cover the entire cost, or at least part of it.
What Types of Breast Pumps Are There?
All breast pumps have similar parts and principle of functioning. The basic part is a breast shield or cup that attaches to the nipple and areola. The pump itself is responsible for creating suction, so that the milk starts pouring from the breast. Finally, there is also a container that collects milk.
- Manual breast pumps. Just like the name says, you manually create suction by squeezing a lever or handle. Generally, they are quiet but harder to operate, since you have to do the majority of work. They are also cheaper. However, I don’t recommend them as your first choice. They might come in handy every once in a while, when you’re on the go or have no power source for your electric pump. But they require too much effort for everyday use.
- Electric breast pumps. They are powered either by batteries or an electric cord. A great feature of some more advanced models is that suction method is customizable, so that it imitates your baby’s suckling rhythm. Another great benefit is that you don’t have to do anything, since the motor does the pumping for you. A special category here are hospital-grade pumps, with very powerful motors. Being the most expensive, they are generally available for rent.
Both types can be single or double breast pumps, depending on whether you want to express a single or both breasts at the same time. The former are more affordable and convenient for occasional use. Another advantage is that you can breastfeed your baby and pump milk for later use at the same time. Moms who need larger supplies of milk or pump regularly will find double pumps more useful. Of course, you can always get a double pump and use it as a single when needed.
5 Best Breast Pump Choices – Our Top Picks
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Another kit that contains everything you need for pumping, this Spectra Baby USA breast pump can be used as a single or double pump, however you need it. Even if it doesn’t work up to its advertisement as a hospital grade pump, I still think it’s a very powerful contraption. Here’s what you will get in the pack: the pump itself, a power adapter, detachable power cord prongs, two Spectra wide-neck bottles, two Spectra backflow protectors, two duckbill valves, two tubes, four flanges. A great advantage is that tubes don’t need cleaning, since they work in a closed system and will never get wet. The suction is completely customizable, so you can adjust it to your milk flow. There is also an awesome massage feature that should stimulate your let-down. Apart from being useful, it’s also very pleasant.
The working moms will be pleased to know that the pump is super quiet. You can answer a conference call and pump at the same time without emulating those awkward sounds. It’s also pretty lightweight, so you can save your back for when you start needing it with the baby.
With this electric breast pump, you will be equipped for all situations. You can pump whenever works best for you, regardless of whether you are at home, at work, or out and about. The pump comes in a stylish microfiber tote that can accomodate all the accessories, including a battery pack. It also contains a removable cooler bag with ice pack, that can hold up to four bottles of milk. This breast pump was specially designed for moms who pump multiple times a day. It features 2-Phase Expression Technology for producing more milk by imitating the baby’s natural feeding rhythm and speed.
Even though it’s a bit on the costlier side, you may rest assured that you’ll have everything you need with this pumping kit. The only con that I can think of is that there are lots of parts to clean. The tubes can get especially tricky in this regard. But the product is overall so satisfactory that the pros outweigh the cons by far.
As far as pumping kits go, this one is Medela’s closest competitor. So much so that pumping moms are waging online wars over which one is better. Everything is there: a Cool’N’Carry milk tote with four storage bottles and an ice pack, the breast pump adjustable for single or double pumping. There’s no need to worry about airborne bacteria and other nasty contaminants, since you will also get a diaphragm to lock down the system. The tubes won’t ever get moist, making the cleaning process easier and more convenient. Moms often complaint that breast pumps don’t fit their boobs. Ameda has taken care of that issue with customizable flanges that should fit everyone.
Now, there are some significant cons to this product. Most negative user reviews on Amazon concern the kit’s longevity. Allegedly, it tends to break pretty fast. Some moms report it broke on them even after several weeks of use. Others claim that the suction is far from satisfactory. Frankly, I’m surprised at this, since the pump can be adjusted for multi-phase pumping, and has whopping 32 customization options.
Even though electric pumps are very powerful, there are situations when you will need a tiny and lightweight manual pump. This one is very simple and convenient. It features a massage cushion that feels warm against your skin. That translates to comfort which, in turn, stimulates your milk flow. You don’t have to lean forward in order to use it.
Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. The product consists of a few parts, so you won’t have to sweat over cleaning it. Toss it into your dishwasher and it will get squeaky clean. You are in full control of the suction. So, if it feels too hard on your nipples, just squeeze the handle more lightly. The product is excellent when you’re out and about, as your second breast pump. Another feature I like is that you can seamlessly transform the container into a milk bottle.
You know how tiresome it can be when you only use one position to pump? This Medela manual pump beats that issue due to its ergonomic swivel handle. It allows you to change hand positions as frequently or rarely as you need. The handle is also great because it allows you to control the vacuum.
Depending on which side of the handle you grab, you can switch between faster or slower sucking cycles. Also, the 2-Phase Expression Technology mimics the baby’s natural suckling patterns. Which is both more comfortable and more convenient for you and your milk supply. The personal-fit breast shields should work fine on breasts of any size. Here’s what you’ll get in the package: a manual pump, two 5-ounce bottles with lids, a bottle stand, a nipple with collar, a cap and two membranes.
Cleaning is a no-brainer, and some moms even claim that this simple pump outperforms many electric pumps. Note, however, that this cute Medela is made with occasional use in mind. While that stands for most manual pumps, the manufacturer admits it, and I really respect that.