When you are breastfeeding, a breast pump can come in handy sometimes.
One of the things I love the most about it is to be able to pump and let someone else (hello, daddy!) bottle-feed your baby when you are not able to.
Using a breast pump can also help to initiate your milk production, and can be an alternative to breastfeeding when your nipples are sore.
When do you use a breast pump?
The breast-feeding period is divided into three different stages. You should choose your breast pump depending on what stage you are in, your personal circumstances, your baby’s needs and your approach to breastfeeding and pumping;
• Initiate – the period that occurs during the first five days. Here, a breast pump can be suitable to start breastfeeding properly and get the body to start fully production and start a good flow after the colostrum. Sometimes the hospital helps during this phase and helps with the breastfeeding before you leave BB with their own breast pumps.
• Build up – takes place from day six to about day thirty. During this period, the body finds its rhythm and how much it should produce to satisfy the baby (or the babies!) Here, a pump can really be good to build up a good flow, even if you do not breastfeed directly from the breast. You can obviously vary between pumping and breastfeeding if it feels good and right.
• Maintain – after the first thirty days the flow is determined, and the body produces the amount that it feels that the baby needs. When you stop, the production will eventually stop, so a breast pump will then really be in place as long as you want to be able to have a milk production to be able to feed the baby.
Related: Medela Symphony vs Medela Pump in Style – The best pump for your buck.
What type of breast pumps are there?
There are essentially two types of breast pumps: manual breast pumps and electric breast pumps. The type of breast pump that suits you best depends on how much you use it – if you plan to pump a lot, for example, then an electric breast pump is recommended.
For those who pump full time or donate breast milk, it may also be possible to rent a breast pump at BB or the local breastfeeding clinic.
For those of you who pump sometimes, a manual pump is enough. They can be a bit slow to get started, but once the milk has started to flow, it goes quickly and smoothly.
My recommendations of breast pump based on your needs
I have compiled a guide here with some of the market’s best breast pumps and accessories. You will find everything from smaller manual pumps to electric double pumps and storage cans. This is a summary of my recommendations, more information below.
|Your need||My recommendation||Alternative recommendation|
|Your baby can’t/won’t breastfeed||Meddela Symphony||Medela Sonata Smart|
|Stimulating your milk production||Medela Symphony (Rent)||Medela Freestyle Flex|
|You want to pump a little now and then||Meddela Harmony||Meddela Swing Flex|
|You need to pump at work etc||Meddela Swing Flex||Medela Freestyle Flex|
If your baby can’t breastfeed, and you need to use a pump often
Some children cannot breastfeed because they have difficulty grasping or sucking, and this may be due to the fact that they were born prematurely, have special needs or are ill. Some newborns need to be separated from their mother in order to receive medical treatment. Some mothers want to give their children all the benefits of breast milk but for various reasons they cannot breastfeed themselves.
The key to producing enough breast milk in all these situations is to start using an electric hospital-rated Symphony double-breast pump with initiation technology already within a few hours after giving birth.
If you pump exclusively, you need a hospital-class double pump that gives the breasts about the same level of stimulation as from a hungry child.
The unique initiator program in the electric double-breast pump Medela Symphony mimics the newborn baby’s suction pattern during the first days, with fast suctions and longer breaks. Research results have shown that these sucking patterns stimulate the mother’s breasts for optimal milk production.
By starting with the initiation program, you get a significantly larger amount of milk during the first fourteen days compared to if you start with the standard program.
Medela Symphony breast pumps are not only the first choice in many hospitals and maternity wards, but they can also be rented for home use. When you get home, you can use the same pumping technology and pumping accessories that your body is already used to.
You can rent a Symphony-breat pump here and also complete with and a bra for hands-free pumping.
Related: Food Poisoning and Breastfeeding: When to Worry?
If you have difficulty with starting your milk production
It is not uncommon for children to have difficulty getting a suckling flu, or for mothers to worry about their milk production during the first days of breastfeeding. If you and your newborn baby are struggling to get milk production started, seek help from a breastfeeding counselor or breastfeeding specialist as soon as possible – expert advice on sucking and placement is often helpful.
If you are still in the hospital or if your baby is only a few days old, use a hospital-grade breast pump with initiation program. This allows you to get started and build up your milk production and feed your baby with pumped milk.
You may need to pump for a few days or weeks until your baby and body get used to breastfeeding. Use the pump as often as you can to increase your milk production, especially if you have twins.
When you use a double-breast pump, you can maximize the amount of pumped-out milk that you can produce in the shortest possible time, and the milk also has a higher calorie content.
You probably won’t need to pump full time in the long run, so you may want to consider renting a Medela Symphony-breast pump that is classified by the hospital – the only hospital-classified breast pump with research-based initiation technology – for a few months.
I thought Medela’s double breast pump was amazing.
If you do not need the initiator and you prefer to have your own breast pump, or if you want a portable alternative, choose an efficient dual-breast electric pump, such as the Medela Freestyle Flex, which has a long-lasting rechargeable battery. Alternatively, you can also consider the electric dual-breast pump Medela Swing Maxi Flex.
If breastfeeding is working but you need to pump a little now and then.
If you have established breastfeeding and now want to pump out a little now and then – perhaps so that your partner or a caregiver can feed your child while you are away – a manual breast pump or an electric single breast pump is a good alternative.
You can choose between the manual breast pump Medela Harmony or the electric single breast pump Medela Swing Flex.
I used the electric single breast pump Medela Swing to relieve the symptoms of mastitis when I had my first child. It was perfect because the pump was fast and quiet, triggered milk expulsion quickly and could be powered by batteries when there was no outlet nearby.
If you need to pump at work etc.
As a breastfeeding and working mother, it is likely that you will have to pump every day for a number of months, and you may also want to take the breast pump to and from work.
In that case, a light and portable breast pump is ideal, and an electric dual pump, such as the Medela Swing Maxi Flex or Medela Freestyle Flex will allow you to get more milk in less time, making it ideal for fast pumping times.
I was still breastfeeding when I went back to work, but my boss was very accommodating, and I had to take breaks when I needed to pump milk. I used the Medela Swing Maxi.
Things to keep in mind when choosing a breast pump
Hopefully you now feel that you have a little bit more understanding about what type of pump that is right for you. Do not forget that efficient pumping is not just about the type of breast pump you have. How and when you use your breast pump can also make a big difference to the amount of milk you pump out. And a chest funnel with the right fit is also a must.
Here are some answers to common questions about breast pumps.
Do I need a breast pump at all?
During a pregnancy, a breast pump may not be the first thing on your mind, as long as you have not made your choice early. In many cases, it is once you know how breastfeeding works, that you even need to think about a breast pump.
No matter what you think, it is always good to still think about it and know what breast pumps that can help you with it. In addition to being able to pump, and let someone else bottle-feed the baby, it can also help both to start breastfeeding and to end it by letting yourself take control of the flow. It can also be supportive if you have very high production and need to get more than what the baby eats, and it is a saving alternative if you get very sore from breastfeeding.
So, the answer to the question is a “maybe, but probably” and the need varies completely depending on the situation around breastfeeding and how you want to do it.
Related: Here is What Happens When You Stop Breastfeeding.
Should you go for an electric or a manual breast pump?
It is obviously an individual choice, and you decide what you think feels the best. When choosing, however, you can start thinking from how much you have planned to use it. If you plan to pump a lot, an electric pump is definitely the most flexible choice.
For those of you who only pump occasionally, a manual pump is good enough. Many people may find that it can be slow to get started with a manual pump, but once the milk starts to flow, there are usually no problems.
Another aspect to consider when choosing between electric and manual is how easy it is to bring along. Of course, it is possible to bring an electric one, some also have rechargeable batteries which makes it even easier to bring, but obviously it is much easier to pack a manual, it is a lot smaller in the diaper bag. ‘
If I choose an electric, should I have a double pump or a single pump?
Again, this is an individual choice. A double pump is of course more practical if you pump at more regular intervals – for example for medical reasons or because you will not be as available. Double pumping reduces the pumping into half, and draws an average of 18% more milk than a single pumping. A good choice for mothers that have their hands full!
How does a breast pump work?
Most electric pumps work by switching between two different modes. A position that initiates the pumping and thus mimics the baby’s first suction on the wart. In this way, the expulsion of the milk in the breast starts – this phase is called the stimulation phase.
The second mode simulates the baby’s sucking once the milk has flowed and is characterized by stronger sucking but lower frequency – this phase is called the expulsion phase.
An electric breast pump contains a pump motor that is connected to a breast funnel, the piece of pump that is placed against the breasts and where a vacuum is formed to drive the milk out of the breast.
The nipple should be centrally located in the funnel for a more even pressure, and so that the nipple does not risk getting rubbed by the edges.
After the pump has been switched on, the stimulation phase begins. If the pump does not automatically switch to the expulsion phase, you can switch it on yourself when you see that milk is coming. The amount of time it takes for this is very individually.
Most manual pumps with handles work in a similar way initially. You attach the funnel to the chest with the same idea as with the electric pump.
The nipple should be placed in the middle and not be able to rub against the edges. On many of the pumps you can then regulate the pressure with a small valve, to imitate the two different suction phases and then start pumping by hand on the handle.
The milk is expelled and ends up directly in containers. You can there vary if you attach a bottle or a bag, and it can be used directly or stored in the fridge or freezer.
Related: How to Properly Store Breast Milk
Is it safe to store the pumped breast milk?
It is possible to save breast milk for later. In this way, you can pump out milk if you want to skip breastfeeding at some point, for example if the other partner or other adult wants to take care of the baby for a while.
The thing to keep in mind if you are going to save breast milk is mainly the hygiene. Both the pump and all vessels in which breast milk is stored, must be really well washed and preferably also sterilized to prevent bacterial growth. Most pumps and vessels can sterilize by boiling them in a saucepan for ten minutes.
How to store breast milk that is pumped?
If the baby is to receive the breast milk on the same day, the milk can stand in room temperature for up to six hours, but preferably it should be stored in the refrigerator.
The milk can be stored in the refrigerator up to three days, and it should not be hot when you set it in the refrigerator.
Before putting it in the refrigerator you should cool it down in cold water by rinsing the bottle or putting it in a water bath.
You can also freeze breast milk, and many freeze breast milk in ice cube trays, because it is then easy to produce exactly as many cubes as you need for a meal. Do not forget to write the date when you freeze the milk so you know it will never be older than six months!
Never mix cold and hot milk as this can cause bacteria to form in the cold milk. However, it is possible to mix cold milk and other cold milk.
When defrosting frozen breast milk, you can do it in room temperature, in a water bath or under running water. Never heat up breast milk in the microwave as it can be difficult to regulate the temperature and the quality of the milk may deteriorate.
Hygiene and storage of breast milk
Remember to store breast milk hygienically before giving it to your baby. Breast milk should only be stored in clean, preferably sterilized, packaging and for a maximum of 3 days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, it can last up to 6 months.
It is also important to keep your breast pump clean to avoid bacterial growth. Therefore, clean the entire pump thoroughly after each use. Some breast pumps can be disassembled and washed in the dishwasher, there are also sterilization boxes and sterilization bags that clean even more efficiently.