When considering a pump, take into account pumping needs and the environment you will be pumping in. This includes things like access to an outlet, quiet and clean rooms, on-the-go/in the car while multitasking, and more.
Pumping can be used therapeutically when engorged before or after a feeding or to relieve mastitis, clogs, etc. This should not be a full pumping session, or the condition it is trying to help could actually worsen. Breastmilk supply is based on demand/stimulation. So if feeding fully and then pumping, it could tell the body to make even more. Instead, pump to relief, perhaps 5 minutes, and apply cold compress after to help with swelling as needed.
Pumping exclusively or in place of any regular feeding, such as part-time/working, should last approximately 10-15, depending on the quality of the pump and the mother’s responsiveness.
Pumping should also take place as often as the minimal frequency of how often a baby would feed. For example, pumping every 2-3 hours, with at least 1-2 sessions at night, is frequent enough to mimic your baby’s feeding patterns and keep milk-producing hormones on alert. This level of pumping requires a pump designed for larger volume output potential that also has an engine to keep up with the duration of your pumping career.
An important tip: remember not to wait until breast(s) feel full to pump, but stick to a routine based on frequency and with a relaxing atmosphere.
Common Terminology When Selecting Your Pump
- Plugs in and generally sustains better suction strength and duration. If pumping for larger volume needs, this is the route to go.
- Self-powered through squeezing a handle or the pump itself to provide gentle suction. Great for removing excess milk from engorgement as well as clogs.
- Can also be used to prime the nipple to aid in the baby latching. Great for bringing in-tow.
- Massage: this is the start of the pumping session, using low suction and higher cycle settings to trigger your milk ejection, or “letdown,” response
- Expression: this is the majority of the pumping session, simulating a steadily drinking baby. Settings for this should be higher suction and lower cycle.
- Versatility in pumping locations and options! Premium brands will last several hours of pumping and also maintain effective suction strength.
- Plug-in or battery-operated pump that pumps one breast at a time. In some models, pumping strength is stronger when not sharing two ports.
- Plug-in or battery-operated pump that has the capacity to pump both breasts simultaneously. Great for time effectiveness. Premium brand pumps are designed to not lose suction strength levels when divided or sharing suction power for pumping both breasts.
- Hands-free, versatile in pumping location. May sacrifice suction strength or duration in exchange for convenience. A great option for those who respond well to pumping regardless of suction strength maximization.
- Closed filtration system maximizes pumping strength and can be used for multiple users. Ideal, also, for pumping for multiples!
Selecting Your Pump
Manual Silicone Breast Pump
If needing only occasional pumping or something for quick relief, opt for a silicone hand pump and perhaps a small electric/battery-operated pump. A top-level pump is not needed. This pump uses a single squeeze by hand to engage in vacuum suction. Other uses for using this type of pump:
- Saline or saltwater in the bottle for drawing out clogs
- Priming the nipple for latching
- Travel-friendly back-up
Travel and Pump On-The-Go!
Traveling pumping needs require something lightweight, battery-operated for ease and versatility. Extra points if it is quiet and fits in your travel bag or diaper bag!
Small, quiet, and compact, this pump can be toted around easily. It also has battery and plug-in options. This pump is ideal for:
- Pumping for one baby
- Part-time Pumping
- Pumping in the car or other means of transport
Similar to the Twist, the Duo is a wonderful option for pumping virtually anywhere. The Duo got a makeover in 2022, and now comes complete with a lanyard and hands-free pumping bra! Part of what makes this pump special is the programmable settings for massage and expression modes. This pump is ideal for:
- Pumping for one baby
- Part-time pumping
- Pumping on the go, in the car or other means of transport
Part-Time and Exclusive Pumping
For exclusive or part-time pumping, especially for long-term usage, time-efficiency, a closed filtration system, and an effective motor is the way to go. Replacing membranes and valves every 4-6 weeks is important, so access to these will be important. Observe if outlets will be an option, too, to determine if electric or battery-operated will be best. Motif pumps will also be quiet, which is great for working in an office or if pumping near a sleeping baby.
With both battery and plug-in options, the Luna pump is the epitome of having the ultimate pump. The engine is designed for optimal pumping, whether single- or double-pumping, with no impact on suction strength and stability to maintain. Steady suction power and adjustable settings allow moms to pump more milk in less time, which takes the burden off of both time constraints and volume output. This pump is ideal for
- exclusive and/or long-term pumping
- stash and donor stash establishment
- pumping for multiples
- part-time pumping or majority of day pumping
- supply enhancement or building
- mastitis/engorgement relief*
- *when under guidance from an IBCLC or other lactation professional
Listen to your body, and use the pump to complement your own personal goals!