Choosing a Breastpump and Milk Storage Guidelines
Trends in baby showers aside, you don’t need to have a breastpump in order to breastfeed. As one Portland lactation consultant is known to say: all you need to breastfeed is a baby and a breast!
The principal purpose of breastpumps is to allow for expression of breastmilk in the event that mom and baby are separated. The pumped milk is collected in bottles or bags and then cooled or frozen to give to the baby for later feedings by a childcare provider. Breastpumps are also used for medical reasons to help bring milk in, increase supply, or relieve fullness.
Breastpumps are intended for a single user, unless they are a commercial grade pump which is specifically designed for multiple users. Multi-user pumps require the user to purchase personal use tubing kits to keep their milk sterile.
The type of breastpump needed depends on what type of separation will be occurring. For example, brief, occasional separations like trips to the store or an evening out will not require the same technology as a pump that will be called upon for daily, extended absences.
A few distinctions to get started:
- Electric: run by battery, power cord, or car adapter. This is the option for more frequent pumping.
- Manual: run by mama power, meaning the mother uses a hand pump or foot pedal to operate the pump. This option is only for occasional use.
- Double: A double electric pump is essential for maintaining a milk supply when routinely separated. It’s also efficient, as it allows for expressing both breasts at once.
- Single: Does not provide enough stimulation to maintain milk supply for daily separation. Pumps one breast at a time.
- Purchase: A single user pump has an initial expense of $200-$300, with some ongoing recurring expense for batteries (if needed) and storage bags. Still vastly less expensive than purchasing formula at $1000-$1500 annually.
- Rental: Rental pumps are specifically designed for hygienic use by more than one person. Requires the one-time purchase of a personal tubing kit, approx. $30.
Beyond this, each breastpump manufacturer will offer a bevy of options, from the cycling technology to the case it’s carried in, all of which affects the price. Many manufacturers offer online questionnaires about your intended use, which will guide in your pump selection.