Breast Pumps, Udderly Ridiculous or Absolute Necessity?

Women pump for many reasons: to relieve engorgement, to have an emergency stash of milk in the freezer, to prepare a bottle so mom can have a night out, to continue exclusively feeding with breast milk when mom returns to work or school, or if there is a situation where mom won’t be able to nurse for a few days and wants to maintain her milk supply. Even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed your baby, having a pump on hand may be a good idea.

Breast pumps come in different shapes and styles, electric and hand-powered. To determine which one to purchase (or even rent) it is important to determine what level of use you’ll require.

Manual (or hand) pumps are easily obtained at many baby and drug stores and are perfect for occasional or short-term use. It is important to look for a model that is easily cleaned so that the milk does not become contaminated through improper cleaning. There are models ranging from those that look like a bicycle horn (extremely difficult to clean properly) to ones that look like a spray bottle with a funnel attached. Pulling the handle (or cylinder, depending on the model) creates negative pressure drawing the milk into a receptacle, oftentimes the bottle itself, making it easy to just pop on a nipple and feed baby.

Electric pumps are more efficient and easier to use than manual pumps and are used when the mother needs to pump for more than the occasional use. They come in different styles and can vary in price from over one thousand dollars to several hundred dollars. It is possible to rent them, which may be more practical if you only need it for a limited time.

Covering the middle ground between manual and electric pumps are foot pedal pumps. They work just like the electric pump though instead of using electricity, the mother presses down on a foot petal to operate the pump.

Check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant for their recommendations for your personal situation. The benefits of breast milk have been well documented, and you may find it to be a rewarding experience.

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