Decide what type of breast milk pumper you will be
“There are three primary reasons for a mother to pump breast milk,” says Rappin. Decide whether you are breastfeeding because of:
1. Medical necessity
Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy for every mother and baby. Tired, overmedicated babies, those born tongue-tied or with a cleft palette, and some preemies can have trouble latching on. A breast pump can stimulate your milk production and allow the baby to be fed breast milk through a bottle or syringe until he can feed on his own.
Breast pumps are also necessary when a baby must spend time in the NICU, or the mother needs a boost to help stimulate her milk production. In these cases you may want to look at borrowing a hospital-grade pump (rental is usually free for NICU babies). “They’re extremely durable, effective and easy-to-use,” says Rappin. Rentals are great for moms who need to breast pump every few hours for the first few weeks or months but may not use a pump often after that.
2. You need to go back to work
Convenience really becomes a factor for working moms. Look at your work environment before you buy a pump. Will you always have an outlet or is a battery pack essential? If you have a closed-door office, hands free is a great option. You can pump while you work or even talk on the phone.
If you’re going to be pumping every day for months, it’s worth making an investment in a quality breast pump. “You get what you pay for,” says Dr. Shari Caplan, a reproductive life family doctor with Women’s College Hospital. But cost doesn’t guarantee a good pump. Do your research. “Research brand names to see who is reputable and talk to other moms to see what they recommend,” says Caplan.
If you’re pumping at work every day you need a quality double pump that will be efficient at drawing your milk. Also, it needs to be strong enough to draw out sufficient milk. “Substituting a feeding with a weak pump can diminish your milk supply,” says Caplan. High-end pumps also come with extras such as discreet carrying bags and cooler bags to store milk in. “Most moms aren’t comfortable storing their breast milk in the company fridge,” says Rappin. A cooler bag can be incredibly handy and also provides a safe environment to carry milk home in.
3. You crave an occasional break from baby
Even stay-at-home moms who are exclusively breastfeeding sometimes want an evening on their own or a few hours to run errands. Occasional pumping allows someone else to feed your baby. The occasional feeder may not want to invest a lot of money in a pump and can look to single or even manual options. “You could even try hand expressing and you may be able to get a few ounces and skip buying a pump,” says Jean Kouba, president of the Canadian Lactation Consultant Association.