WAIT to buy a breast pump till after baby is born and breastfeeding is well established unless there is a medical necessity to buy or rent one sooner. Many years of experience with helping mothers to breastfeed has taught Pat to discourages mothers from buying a breast pump before the baby is born. Ideally, pumping should not take place until breastfeeding is well established at the breast and baby is gaining well. However, there are some medical indications to use a pump shortly after the birth such as: Premature or sick infants, jaundice baby under bili lights (phototherapy), sever engorgement (when baby isn't doing an adequate job or not nursing frequently enough to prevent engorgement), mother is too sick to nurse her baby or a baby with birth defects who can not suckle at breast. In these cases, a hospital grade rental pump is going to give the mother the best possible chances for successfully building and maintaining her milk supply. Another reason to wait on the purchase of a breast pump is because there are a small percent of mothers who cannot make enough milk for their baby. By waiting till breastfeeding is going well and the baby gaining well on mother's milk, mothers are less likely to end up with an expensive piece of equipment that they aren't able to use because the breastfeeding did not work out for them.
Buying a breast pump is NOT the answer to solving all breastfeeding problems.
Mothers who are having breastfeeding problems are best served by seeking professional help from a Board Certified Lactation Consultant with a face to face visit to determine the cause of the problem and a resolution to the problem. Quickly seeking help could make the difference in successfully obtaining your breastfeeding goals with comfort and enjoyment and will save you money in the long run. Don't make the mistake of thinking purchasing a pump will fix the problem. Mothers who try to fix the breastfeeding problem by buying an expensive pump may find the pump in the corner gathering dust and the baby receiving bottles of formula. Used pumps should not be sold or used by another nursing mother due to concerns with cross contamination.
All breast pumps are NOT created equal! When considering a breast pump, it's important to look for one that will come as close to mimicking your baby when feeding at the breast as possible. This is the difference in what makes a pump effective and comfortable versus one that is ineffective and may even cause pain or trauma to the nipple or breast tissue.
Criteria to consider when comparing breast pumps...
1 - Effectiveness. This is determined by both how often the pump cycles (creates suction and releases it) and the pressure of each suction. A healthy nursing baby will suckle 40-55 times a minute. Pumps which cycle close to this range are more effective at yielding the most milk as well as maintaining the milk supply more effectively. Look for a pump which cycle at least 25 or more times per minute. Cycling rates below 25 are often ineffective at yielding milk. Additionally with a lower cycle, the suction is sustained for longer which many times leads to pain of the breast and nipple tissue. Breast pump suction pressures range from 20-650 mm Hg negative pressure. Pressures in the high 200s often cause pain. Pressures below 150 are reported to be ineffective at extracting milk. A breast pump that is similar to a nursing baby creates around 200-230 mm Hg negative pressure and cycles about 45-60 times per minute.
2 - Comfort. Most mothers find pumps with the auto cycling feature are more comfortable to use. Some breast pumps also are limited to only one size breast shields. Mothers with larger nipples and/or breasts may find these "one size fits all" pumps less effective and uncomfortable.
3 - Type of pumping action. Single or Double?? Single pumps, whether manual or battery/electric, only pump one breast at a time. Single pumps provide less stimulation than double pumping and the pumping time required is twice as when a double pump is used. Single pumping one breast then the other breast is a good option if you will only need to use a breast pump occasionally. Single pumps are a good choice for the stay-at-home mom or the mom only working part-time and needing to use a breast pump no more than an average of once per day. Simultaneous double pumps, often referred to as hospital or professional grade pumps, offer the best pump performance. They pump both breasts at the same time, thus cutting pumping time in half over single pumping. Additionally, there is research to suggest that simultaneous double pumping increases the hormone responsible for milk production and therefore better maintains milk supply over a longer period of time.
4 - Pump durability. When choosing a breast pump, it's important to have an idea of how often and how long you'll need to use the pump. Some pump have smaller and less durable motors. These may carry a shorter guarantee then the larger motor pumps. They are usually not designed to hold up to frequent use (using more than once per day) and usually indicate on the box that this pump is adequate for the mom pumping for occasional bottles. Others are designed to be used frequently and for longer periods of time and therefore have larger and more durable motors with longer guarantees. Don't make the mistake of choosing a pump that's purpose and life span fall below your pumping goal or needs. This can result in premature motor wear and many times a compromised milk supply once the motor begins to wear out. Manual pumps, of course, do not depend upon a motor for operation. With frequent use, mother is more likely to "wear out" before a manual pump. Some manual pumps are more of a work out than others.
5 - Other points to consider: One feature that you may be concerned about is the quietness of the pump. The larger the pump, the more likely that the motor will be quieter. The smaller the pump, the more likely that the motor will be louder and therefore less discreet. Manual pumps, by their very nature, are very quiet. What power options the pump provides is also of importance. If you will need to pump in a place without an electrical outlet, then you'll want to consider a pump which runs either on batteries or vehicle adapter power source. Other considerations could be, its discreet design and/or its portability.
6 - When pumping due to medical necessity: if pumping for a preemie or baby who is not latching therefore not feeding from the breast (exclusively pumping) or pumping to increase a low milk supply, the best choice for stimulating to build an adequate milk supply and maintaining a healthy milk supply is a hospital-grade rental pump. These are rented due to the cost being so great ($850.00 - $2100.00). After breastfeeding of your baby is well established and baby is now nursing effectively from the breast, you may then purchase a pump for either occasional bottles or return to work. Until that time, you need every bit of help in building an adequate supply and maintaining your supply since you don't have the benefit of the baby nursing from the breast.
7- Even with the best pump on the market, mothers who don't use the pump adequately or without some knowledge of the process of milk making and some personal instruction of the care and use of the pump she has chosen, may limit their success with pumping. Pat suggest that you purchase or rent a pump from a qualified source such as a Board Certified Lactation Consultant who gives instruction on pumping and care of the pump. Buying a quality pump is an investment! If you buy from a department store, you will not get this valuable expert information which could make a big difference in your success.
© 2001-2011 Pat Lindsey, IBCLC - Lactation Services all rights reserved.
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