The first decision you will make when buying your breast pump is whether to buy a manual breast pump (hand operated) or an electric/battery operated breast pump. You will need to take into consideration how often you will be pumping, how long you will need to use the pump, and how much time you have to express milk.
Manual Breast Pumps
Hand-operated pumps are ideal if you express occasionally, for the odd night out or for short periods when you are away from your baby. They tend to be very light and compact, and so easy to carry around in your bag while out and about. And of course, you do not need to worry about an electricity supply or any sound – most manual breast pumps are silent to use. Some women find that their wrist tires relatively quickly when using a manual pump, so be sure to choose one with an ergonomically designed handle. You may find it takes some time to master the best rhythm for you – but, with a little practice, this will come. Manual pumps are easier to use when your breasts are full than when they are soft. Look out for a manual breast pump with 2 phases – let down and expression phases, to make each expression easier, quicker and more effective. Also, some pumps now offer compatibility between the pump bottles and breastmilk feeding bottles.
Electric Breast Pumps
Electric pumps are the preferred option if you will be expressing regularly, if you have a baby in special care, or are returning to work. They are also extremely useful if you have very limited time, as they are quicker than manual ones. Look for an electric breast pump that has separately adjustable suction and cycle levels, as this will enable you to choose settings that most closely resemble the way your baby suckles. It is also useful to have a pump that operates in two phases: one to stimulate the let down of your milk, and then the second for efficient expressing. Some electric pumps are now surprisingly light, so you may also want to take this into account. Some electric breast pumps can also be used with batteries or mains electrical supply, offering total flexibility in where and when you express. Also, some pumps now offer compatibility between the pump bottles and breastmilk feeding bottles.
Single or Double Electric Breast Pumps
All mums know how important time saving strategies are and a double electric pump will enable you to express milk in up to half the time, as you can use it to express from both breasts at once. A double pumping session can be achieved in as little as 10 minutes, compared with 20 to 30 minutes using a single pump. Expressing from both breasts simultaneously has also been found to stimulate prolactin levels and increase milk production more effectively than single pumping.*
You may also choose to use a pumping bra, which will free both your hands enabling you to use your mobile phone or computer at the same time so that you can stay in touch with friends or even work. A double breast pump is also the obvious option if you have twins, if breastfeeding is delayed after birth or if you and your baby are regularly separated for long periods.
A single electric breast pump is ideal especially if you tend to express and breastfeed at the same time. It is also more affordable than a double electric breast pump and might also be easier to take with you when out and about.