The lowdown on breast pumps
If you’re getting ready to go back to work, or you’d like to be able to leave home baby-free, or you just want to get some rest, using a breast pump will allow your baby to benefit from your milk even when you’re not around.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans should now cover the purchase or rental of a pump and accessories, along with visits to a lactation consultantwho can show you how to use it properly once your baby is born.
See which breast pumps moms like best in BabyCenter’s Moms Picks.
Types of breast pumps
Breast pumps fall into 2 main categories: electric/battery-powered and manual, which are completely operated by hand. A look at which type may suit your needs:
For moms who pump more than once a day: Top-end electric personal-use pumps
Top-end electric pumps are a popular choice for moms who return to work full-time or are frequently away from their baby and can’t nurse regularly.
These pumps are fully automatic, with variable cycling times and adjustable suction levels to help avoid nipple discomfort. Most electric pumps are double pumps – they can do both breasts at once – but a few are single.
Some models are designed to mimic a baby’s sucking patterns; they start with short, quick sucks to elicit the letdown response and then move into a slower, deeper sucking pattern. This feature can make pumping more comfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll produce more milk.
Generally weighing in at 5 pounds or less, electric pumps come with carrying cases and often include bottles along with accessories like storage bags, clips, labels, and nipple ointment. If you choose an electric pump, consider picking up a nursing bustier as well for hands-free pumping.
Many pumps come with a built-in battery pack, a handy option if you’re pumping on the go or in a room lacking a convenient electrical outlet. Top-end pumps can run on a car’s power outlet with an adapter that’s sold separately for moms who need to pump in their cars while parked.
For moms having trouble breastfeeding: Hospital-grade electric breast pumps
If you’re having trouble nursing during those first few weeks after you give birth, or your baby isn’t able to nurse enough to build up your milk supply, your caregiver may recommend renting this kind of pump. It’s probably what you’ll use if your baby’s a preemie or in the NICU or if you’re a mom with a medical condition that affects how much milk you produce.
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