I’m back to share some tips for how to choose your breast pump! Consider me your breastfriend! Choosing a pump can sometimes be overwhelming and intimidating for most- as if you’re not stressed enough welcoming a new bundle of joy! I, myself, went through 4 different pumps until I found what worked for me. I hope today’s blog can help some new mommas to be in choosing a pump that works for you!
Pumping itself, whether you are doing it exclusively, while you are away from baby, or as a way to include your partner with night time feedings, is extremely time consuming. It requires dedication and patience. It also requires support— this is something most times gets over looked. Did you know that breastfeeding for a year is the equivalent of working an average of 1800 hours? Having a supportive partner is crucial especially during the first few weeks when time is precious.
Every mom pumps for different reasons. Depending on the reasons and your personal breastfeeding journey, your choice of pump might differ. I began pumping the second day Baby V was born. He was born a little bit jaundice- a condition that causes the yellowing of the skin due to red blood cells not being broken down properly. It’s actually one of the most common conditions babies are sometimes born with that most times can be remedied with constant feeding or with photo therapy light. This condition also makes the already sleepy newborns even sleepier! Baby V would constantly fall asleep at the boob and would not properly eat. As a result, he lost 10% of his body weight in 2 days. Cue in the dreaded constant pressure to formula feed instead of trying to supplement with your own breastmilk- or at least being given the option and support to do so.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I had a nurse who encouraged me to begin pumping to see if any colostrum or milk would come out. I actually had harvested my colostrum prior to birth which helped me have some peace of mind while we helped him gain weight with my own breast milk. If you’re interested in harvesting colostrum, hopefully you stick around long enough and we can discuss the benefits in the next post!
So how do you choose your pump? Most importantly how do you size yourself for a flange that is just right for you. For one, WAIT….wait until you have given birth and have had a couple pumping sessions to measure yourself for correct sizing. I always knew every woman’s nipples were different but it never occurred to me that the diameter would have to be taken into consideration when getting measured for a flange. Did you also know that incorrect flange sizes (whether too big or too small can affect the effectiveness of proper milk removal? Amazon sells cheap rulers you can buy, and most LC (lactation consultants) will be able to measure you as well. A well fitting flange will make a world of difference. Remember breastfeeding and or pumping should never be painful. Let’s talk about the four different styles of pumps I tried and how I arrived to the one I currently use and cannot live without.
I first began pumping with the Spectra S2 breast pump and easily found myself filling my bottles and being left with sore nipples. Since the Spectra S2 is not wireless, it meant I was constantly at a wall outlet every 2-3 hours for 15-20 mins. In other words I felt stuck! This was the first time I had ever considered the option of wired vs wireless pumps. I found a portable battery that allowed me to move from room to room but it was still way to bulky to take in the go. Although I did lug around a some trips in the car because you know… a momma HAD to pump. If you are looking for a hands free option you can look into the S1 version, although I will say, if you keep reading, I will discuss my absolute all-time favorite hands-free pump!
I hadn’t done much research prior to breastfeeding so I wasn’t sure what I wanted in a pump, but I knew I needed some freedom. The power suction on the Spectra is great, it is a hospital grade pump after all, so as far as suction and power I would say it’s a 8/10. It has a closed system which means milk will not flow back and the flanges are somewhat comfortable, even though they are not cushioned. However, the box only came with 24mm flanges and 28 mm flanges. I had no idea these both were way too big for me and for weeks pumped and dealt with soreness before I learned about sizing. Regardless of the incorrect sized flanges I was producing milk …. and a lot! I am an over producer which means my body makes 2-3 times what my baby needs. As the weeks progressed I began noticing my needs as a pumping mama were changing and I had to start taking these preferences specific to my breastfeeding/pumping journey into consideration!
I researched and knew I wanted to be hands free so I ordered the Elvie. Now the Elvie is a hands free pump that’s runs for about $500 . Yikes. Before I describe my experience with the Elvie, I will say if you are an over producer like myself, or produce more than 4 oz per boob, this may not be the pump for you. I also will say that I pump everywhere I go! One my way to work. At the zoo. In laws house. Sitting in traffic. So choosing a pump that would correctly empty me out was essential.
Now the pros were amazing: hands free, NO CORDS, easy to pop on and off, and semi-discreet and pretty stylish. I also did enjoy having the little collection bottles come with caps for easy storage and having an app that tracked the ounces collected was nice. The cons, however, made me only use this luxury and highly priced pump a total of about 10-15 times (if that). Some of the cons I found were the following: the app and ounce sensor was never accurate. The pump would stop automatically signaling it was full when it was not. Another downfall for me, was the positioning of the nipple. Although, the device itself was easy to put in and off, positioning the flange correctly was extremely important. If the nipple was not correctly inserted- proper milk removal was affected. The suction was at most a 4/10 for me and I found myself constantly having to use my spectra after sessions to empty out. I did however find a hack with the Elvie using Legendairy Milk flanges which were soo comfortable! I will say if you do buy these cushioned flanges DO not block the two tiny openings that control the suction on the top center of the pump. It found this pump helped in situations where I was on the go and needed a quick relief, but never fully did the job for me. And lastly, as I mentioned before, I had to constantly stop pumping, pour some out and continue to pump because of my over production. Cute concept, ineffective in my opinion due to my over production. However, if you produce overall between 3-5 ounces per session combined, which by the way, is considered normal— with a little cushioned hack you might find this pump is the one for you!
I was still on the hunt for a pump that emptied me out and was friendly on the go! A friend who had previously given birth a couple months before me recommended the Baby Buddha (cue in singing angels). This pump is AMAZING, let me tell you why. The pump itself is smaller than my iPhone but the power is stronger than my Spectra, even on level 12. I’ve actually never really ventured past level 6 on my Baby Buddha because it is that strong.
This pump also comes with cushioned flanges! Such a huge plus! It also has two collection bottle sizes- 5 ounces and 8 ounce bottles. Guess what this girl got? The 8 ounce bottles of course. Finally a bottle that I didn’t have to pump and stop! What sold me the most, as side from being hands free and powerful, was that it cut my pumping time by 20-30% I was removing MORE milk in LESS time! It’s priced at around $180 which makes it even more attractive. If I had to mention a con, it would have to be the lanyard it comes with to hang on your neck. Pay close attention mamas, DO NOT hang it around your necks! We’re already dealing with back pains from breastfeeding/pumping and carrying our little bundles of joy. Luckily, like most situations now a days, nothing Amazon didn’t have! Get yourself a belt clip and voila neck pain gone!
The last pump I experimented with was the Medela manual pump. The name says it all. You manually have to pump out the milk with your hands. The flange is not the most comfortable but in emergency situations like loss of power, forgetting your pump at home (mom brain) or a quick night out , it gets the job done!
The pros to manual pumping is that you control the suction, the rhythm and overall output. It also is easily stored if you already have the Medea storage bottles by just pumping and popping in a screw-on lid. The con couldn’t be more obvious… there’s a lot of labor involved and after some time your hands cramp up if you try to use a manual pump to replace an entire session. However, was pleasantly surprised.
Regardless of the pump you choose, here are some tips that helped my pumping journey. Lubricate. Yes you heard correct, lubricate, the tiniest bit of coconut oil works wonders. Legendairy Milk also has a great pumping spray. Let those nipples glide instead of rub! Buy more than one set. I’ll repeat it again, buy more than one set. As if washing, sterilizing and drying bottles all day was not enough. Don’t drive yourself crazy washing the same set 4-5 times a day. Get multiple sets of flanges and collection bottles if you can. This way you always have a set ready to go. Replace your duck valves! If your valves are starting to become lose, it’s time to change them. Every 2-3 months usually is a good time frame. Loose duck valves equals infective suction.
Lastly, remember that what may work for one momma may not work for another. Do your research, make a list of your preference and when in doubt, order the Baby Buddha! I have yet to recommend this pump to a mom who has not loved it.
‘Til next time! … Grace.