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If you're breastfeeding, chances are you'd want your baby to be able to have your milk any time even when you're not around to breastfeed. So you're looking to buy a breast pump and may be wondering what kind of pump you would need.
Generally, breast pumps fall into 3 main categories and here are your options.
Manual breast pumps. Manual pumps require your hand and arm strength to pump one breast at a time by squeezing a lever. Some models may even require two hands to operate. Manual pumps are suitable for "casual user" mothers who only pump occasionally, once a day max. You should avoid bicycle horn-style manual pumps because they can damage sensitive breast tissue and harbour harmful bacteria in the difficult-to-reach and hard-to-clean rubber suction bulb.
Manual pumps are the least expensive (up to $100) and are relatively light. Although they are simple to use and can work anywhere, manual pumps are slow, tiring to use and may not be effective if you need to pump daily. Many moms also find hand pumps don't completely empty their breasts, which can lead to a lowered milk supply.
- Home-use electric pumps. These pumps are the ideal choice for mothers returning to work or study, those who pump regularly to supplement direct breastfeeding and also those pumping exclusively. Lower-end models let you pump 2-3 times a day while higher-end models let you pump 6-8 times a day. Most home-use electric breast pumps let you to pump one breast at a time but some models offer double expression, which not only cuts pumping time by half but also increases your hormone responsible for milk production and therefore better maintains your milk supply. Look for electric pumps that can imitate a baby's sucking pattern, which helps stimulate milk supply.
Home-use electric pumps are highly portable, weighing 0.5 kg up to 1 kg, and affordable, considering their efficiency, with prices ranging from $150 to $300. These pumps generally run on both electricity and batteries, which gives you more freedom as you don't have to be close to an electricity outlet to express milk. They also come with a wide range of accessories for true mobility.
- Hospital-grade electric pumps. These high-end pumps are "industrial strength" pumps featuring powerful motors and double collection kits, which means you can pump both breasts at once. Hospital grade pumps are suitable for moms requiring "heavy duty" expression (e.g. pumping for hospitalised preemies) or those needing help with establishing milk supply or those pumping exclusively, 8-10 times a day. Hospital grade pumps are usually used with the recommendation of a doctor or lactation consultant.
Hospital-grade pumps are the most efficient but keep in mind that they are very bulky and heavy, weighing 8-10 kg, and they are not portable at all. They are also priciest costing $2,000 to $3,500. You can also rent a hospital grade pump for around $30 - $40 a week.
So the most important question is: how often do you plan to use it... and whether or not you need to pump outside of your home?
Your answer to that critical question will determine what kind of breast pump is right for you.
Enjoy breastfeeding and breast-pumping!
Please also check out my other Guides on related breastfeeding and breast pumping topics.
Hi my name is Pia and I'm a qualified early childhood educator who has worked directly with hundreds of babies, children and families in Australia and Canada over the past 8 years. Thanks for stopping by and reading my Guide. For more information, drop by my eBay Store and check out quality breastfeeding products that I've personally picked for you.