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Breast pumps- What you must know before buying

By Kirk Benjamin November 18, 2011

Breast pumps can be a great benefit for nursing mothers. They can give you the freedom to return to work, ensuring your little one is well nourished, they can allow dad to take pleasure in the bonding experience of feeding, or they can simply give you some much wanted respite while someone else feeds the baby.

Many mothers prefer to purchase a breast pump prior to the baby arriving as it gives them a opportunity to test out the device to make sure it’s right for them, as well as assist train them for regular use. In fact, it’s highly advised that bottle feeding is introduced very early on to assist the baby adapt as well. Many infants will refuse the bottle if it’s introduced to them later on.

There are various types of breast pumps, all with varying settings and accessories so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. This is particularly useful prior to reading breast pump reviews. We’ve put together some instructions to help you discover the best breast pump for your needs.

There are two foremost types of breast pumps available… manual breast pumps, and electric breast pumps.

Manual breast pumps are operated by rapidly pumping a handle. The pumping stroke creates a vacuum which causes the milk to pass from the breast shield (the part that is placed over your breast) through the tubing and into the collection bottles. A few manual pumps use one handle, while some have two.

Manual pumps can be a good choice for mothers who plan to pump at the office as they’re usually of a lighter weight, and also quieter than electric pumps. However, they often take a bit more exertion and can also be time intensive, so if you’re planning to use it frequently you might be better matched to an electric breast pump, either in place of, or in addition to a manual pump.


Electric breast pumps work the same way as a manual pump, however they’re operated via a motor in place of of a hand pumping action.

You’ll find that an electric breast pump will often give a greater amount of suction than a manual breast pump and also cut down on the amount of time it takes to express. A number of of the better electric pumps on the market such as the Medela Pump in Style come with inconspicuous backpacks or carry bags that make them easier to transport if you plan on leaving the house with them.

And while they’re noisier than manual breast pumps, there are some on the market that are very quiet so don’t be completely discouraged by electric breast pumps.

Electric breast pumps also come in two different types… single breast pumps and double breast pumps.

Single Breast Pumps come with one breast shield or flange (the part that covers the breast) and one collection bottle.

While Double Breast Pumps logically come with 2 flanges and 2 collection bottles.

A double electric breast pump will obviously produce a greater amount of milk, in much less time than a single pump. They can be tricky to get acclimatized to at first but again, if you plan on regularly use, the payoff is worth enduring the learning curve.

Safety

It’s important to ensure that the parts of the breast pump that may come into contact with the milk, or with your baby are free of BPA. BPA is compound often used in the creation of plastics, and can be potentially harmful to your child. The majority of pumps out there today are free of BPA but it’s always a good idea to check.

Another concern to keep in mind is whether the breast pump uses an open system, or closed system

A Closed system breast pump means that the motor is totally exclcuded from the parts of the pump that may come into contact with the milk, like the tubing, breast shield, and bottles.

In an Open system breast pump there can sometimes be a chance that the milk may overflow or somehow come into contact with the motor where it’s extremely difficult to clean and can create bacteria.

While a closed system is good for piece of mind, it isn’t a huge concern, as contamination is a very rare occurrence, particularly when are careful to ensure you don’t overfill the bottles. Also most of the high end breast pumps that make use of an open system are manufactured with preventing this issue in mind.


Features

One of the helpful settings to watch for in an electric breast pump is a let-down feature. This is a setting that may help stimulate the breasts when you first begin pumping so that a natural milk flow is achieved. Again… It isn’t mandatory however it’s something that many mothers find very useful.

Another option to watch for in an electric breast pump is battery operation. Most of the higher quality breast pumps are able to be operated either via AC power or batteries. While there might be a slight loss of power and suction when operating a pump via batteries, it allows you to take the pump almost anywhere. Many pumps also have car chargers as an extra accessory.

Selecting the best breast pump will most likely come down to your lifestyle and your personal choice. Hopefully now you have a better idea of what type of pump is suitable to you and what features to watch for.
 

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