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Choosing a Breastpump

Posted by Barbara Glare on

A breastpump is a breastpump is a breastpump, right?  Well, no.  Breastpumps are made for different purposes and different price points, and their are plenty of traps for new players. Here we present come common scenarios and decode them.

Should I get a breastpump before the baby is born?

Despite what the "Baby Essentials" lists in pregnancy mags and websites will tell you - breastpumps are not "essential" for successful breastfeeding.  Many mothers breastfeed for months and even years without ever needing or using a breastpump.  Breastpumps are readily available and it might be best to wait and see what your needs are and choosing according to your circumstances.  On the other hand there are pumps that actually just don't really work very well (but you won't find that out until you have opened the package, and tried it out - then it will be difficult to get the manufacturer to take responsibility and refund you.

But I'll need a breastpump so I can have "me" time?

The first six weeks or so with a new baby is tough going - a very steep learning curve.  There is no hint of a routine at all, and caring for a baby is really intense.  There is good news - it gets better!  over time babies can be more predictable.  There will be times of the day you know you could leave the little one with dad or grandma and get out and about for 2-3 hours.  Baby won't starve - there might some time where they have to jiggle the baby, but then there are times *you* have to jiggle too - everyone will cope and you won't have to express.

What if my baby is premature or sick?

If your baby is premature or sick and can't feed or doesn't feed very effectively you need the good pump.  A handpump won't cut the mustard here.  And buying a small electric pump at this is false economy.  You need to hire a hospital grade breastpump like a medela symphony. Think of it like this; the dustbuster might be good for sucking up a small spill in the kitchen or the car, but if you have to vaccuum your 5 bedroom house, you will need a really good vaccuum cleaner - you won't be mucking around with a dustbuster.  The same is true of breastpumps.  If your baby is sick or premature you will be needing to express AT LEAST 8 times in 24 hours.  On the flip side, as your little one grows and is able to breastfeed you may not need a breastpump at all.

Buy the best you can afford

If you are having your first child and you are going to return to work in the first 6 months it's a good idea to invest in a really good breastpump - get the best you can afford. It will be a very worthwhile investment.

3 Booby Traps for new players

1.  It's OK you don't need to buy a pump; my sister in law's cousin's best friend can lend you her old one....

Don't fall for this.  If you need a pump you need a new pump, you need a good quality pump.  Buying a second hand pump offers little security.  You don't know how many people have used it, whether it has all the pieces, how clapped out the motor is or how the seals have perished.  This is especially fraught when you are needing to bring in your milk solely with the pump.  You need the right equipment for the job.

2.  Worried about milk supply?  I'll just pump and then I will know for sure how much milk I've got.

Invariably breastfeeding counsellors get this call at about 5.45pm.  Baby has been cluster feeding all afternoon - and mother's breasts feel like empty. wrong out socks.  He surely can't want "another feed"  So you get the new (or even worse - second hand) pump out of the box.  Baby is crying in the rocker as you put it together and then steralise it.  You rock him with one foot while you try to pump for the first time - and now the phone is ringing.  After 10 mins you tearfully conclude you just have no milk, and tell your other half to pick up formula on the way home.  What you can get with the breastpump tells you NOTHING about how much milk you are making

This scenario tells me  tired, hungry, stressed out and the baby has been cluster feed all afternoon and you are inexpereinced at pumping - nothing about your milk supply.  Life all new skills in life it may not work too well the first time; it will get better with practice.

3.  "So, we'll get a breastpump, then she can sleep and I'll do the night feed"


 It sounds perfect doesn't it? just like an American sit-com Except, it just really doesn't work.  So, what really happens is, baby cries, and with your finely attuned senses you are awake instantly.  You other half hears nothing until you jab him in the ribs.  He stumbles about picking up the baby and heading to the kitchen.  You hear. every. cry. and. bump.  Your milk lets down and you are lying in a milky pool, every muscle tense.  As he gets the bottle feeding happening you drift back to sleep only to be woken an hour later - because now your breasts and full and need to be emptied, but baby is full and asleep - so now you are up "feeding" the breastpump.  Better to by-pass the breastpump all together and get into the natural rhythm of your baby's feeding.

At the Warrnambool Breastfeeding Centre you can always be sure of getting knowledgeable support and guidance with your breastpump purchase.  We are also happy to send you away without purchasing a breastpump if you decide that, in light of new information you don't need it.

At the Warrnambool Breastfeeding Centre we hire out Medela Symphony and Medela Lactina hospital grade breastpumps and sell a full range of quality Medela Breastpumps.  Our staff are trained to assess your needs and assist in your decision making


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